13 February 2013

The Further Adventures of Foamex....

...And the Perils of Painting Stonework

Ok, maybe not perils, but I had an awful lot of heartache over painting this one.

Continuing on from the experimentation with building stone walls and a tunnel portal purely from foamex, I decided to see what results I could get out of construcing a building out of the same material.

Following a quick experiment using 1mm foamex, I discovered that is was easy to scribe, and cutting windows out was a doddle, leaving a scale 3 inch recess behind which to mount the windows using the same technique as described in a previous post, only leaving "bleed" around the edges of the plastic so as to give a border to glue and fix.

The only issue with the 1mm stuff is it's rather flimsy when used as a wall, so a lot of internal bracing is required to give solidity. I also cut out a floor to give it more structure. the chimney walls were cut from 3mm foamex and laminated together to give extra thickness, then glued into place at the gable end, and in the middle. This added instant rigidity to the structure, which made scribing easier.

Yes, before you fall over in shock. I scribed the stonework onto the walls when the structure was glued together using an engineers set square to achieve true horizontals (well they would have been true, if I hadn't slipped with the screwdiver a couple of times)
Scribing went by my now usual method of using a scalpel to mark out the courses, then going over again with my honed screwdriver. It's this bit you really have to be careful with as the material has a slight grain, which if you haven't scribed a starter line first, the screwdriver tends to want to wander off-line. I wouldn't look too closely as the lines, but as I was aiming for a slightly rustic look to the building I'm not too over bothered, and I'm sure my 5 year old won't even notice. Unlike the DAS clay method, foamex is quite unforgiving when it comes to mistakes as you can't just fill over the mistake and rescribe when dry. You can to some extent carve out the error, giving the impression of extra relief, which I had to do in some cases.

Going round corners involved making sure in the first instant that the two joins were fairly square to start with, then gluing tightly with UHU, and sanding the joint when dry. Scribing carefully around the corners making sure the indent was apparent (helps to exaggerate with a scalpel) masks the join, and even more so when painted, so I was quite happy with this.

... Which leads me to the subtitle...

I was originally aiming to paint it with a light, clean stonework, but the mortar courses didn't show, and I was reluctant to go for a dark mortar ( I may try this with subsequent builds though), so after the first attempt, I went over with a dry brush, dirtying up the stonework with greys.

I didn't like this though, as it just looked like I'd gone over a light sandy colour with grey, so, on to attempt 3. This involved mixing some muddy browns and dry brushing over the top. The results looked pretty good, but again, I wasn't quite happy. I then went over again with a mix of greys, and now it started to stand out, the brown undercoat helped mix with the greys creating a quite effective grubby stone colour. It wasn't quite the effect I was initially after, but created quite a striking effect especially when set against the pale mortar colour. Some of this was darkened when going through the numerous coats, so I used a tip I'd picked up on another blog somewhere and mixed up a watery mortar colour (The trusty B&Q Sandstone) and added a droplet of washing up liquid. Then loading the mix onto a brush, I dropped the wet mix very lightly into the mortar courses, and the paint just runs into the gaps- bingo!
If you're not careful though, it does leave a light blob where you touched the paint onto the model. I wanted a slight lime streak effect though, so this was a bit of a happy accident.

Guttering was scratch built using Geoff's excellent guttering technique, using 1mm foamex instead of styrene, but a reasonable result was achieved.
I have to admit to cheating with the downpipe though. I was going to scratch build one, until I realised that the wire I was going to use was too thin. Then I found an old Hornby plastic kit I'd been given, which upon investigation was missing some vital parts, namely walls and floor!, but what it did have was some useful drainpipes, which I duly painted and put to good use.

It's not quite finished yet, but I was eager to get it photographed.

What I intend to do still is add flashing round the chimney and weather the roof and doors a little, oh and add some chimney pots.


  1. A very thorough and interesting account. The result certainly looks extremely would be interesting to see a close-up of the texture. No harm in using bits of kits for downpipes...anything that saves precious time!!

  2. Looks very nice from here Lee, glad you found the guttering idea worked for you. Like Iain I have no problem with using parts from kits or components from the Wills material packs come to that.

    I look forward to seeing how you model the flashing around the chimney. Having tried both paper and a little DAS I have yet to find the ideal method.