Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Art Park and the quirks of grass mat installation

Back in the summer I bought a Busch grass mat at George’s Trains. I was browsing and saw a big stack of them in a box and thought I’d buy one just to see if I might have some idea for using it. It’s a little bigger than a 81/2 x 11 sheet of paper; has a ‘grassy’ surface – well, if grassy means a stubbly surface like you’d have after getting a flattop at the barber - on one side, and a papery surface on the other.

It languished in my supplies box for awhile. When I started working on Art Park it seemed like the best material for making a smooth, uniform lawn, which is what I wanted for this scene. Grass mats are a little hokey looking, but for the lawns in a scene that is somewhat fanciful to begin with, it seemed like a good way to quickly build the look I wanted.

I cut the various pieces for the grounds by laying out the patterns on the back of the mat and then sliced them out with a knife and straight-edge. Gluing them down was a little tricky. I got a little frustrated because the glues I had on hand either wouldn’t bond properly, or required a long curing time that necessitated holding down the mat pieces with weights. I finally resorted to overkill and used thick super-glue to do the job. It easily holds down the mat to the form-core base and sets up quickly. The downside is that you need to place the mat on the scenery base correctly the first time because the glue sets up quickly and has only a very narrow window for making adjustments. But, once you’ve practiced a little, you’ll get nice looking results very quickly.

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