Make a realistic thatched roof

making a thatched roof model

Living in Surrey, I see a lot of thatched roofs. There’s no denying their beauty. But recreating them in miniature for a model railway or diorama is incredibly difficult. One modeller however has nailed it.

Other techniques to create thatch I’ve seen, using strands of string or drawing a comb across clay, don’t come close to the realistic texture Model Railway Engineer community member and scenic diorama modeller John Simpson creates.

The results also easily surpass the pre-made models commonly available.

John recently posted some photos of the thatched roofed buildings he’s made and I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re some of the most realistically textured model thatching I’ve seen.

I reached out to John and he kindly agreed to share his technique here.

John starts with the base of the cottage or building he’ll be adding the thatch too. He makes his own roofs from 5mm balsa but other model materials could work just as well.

making a model of a thatched roofTo this he adds a thick, dense, layer of 6mm static grass held down with PVA glue, see here.

This is then left to set.

Next he applies a further coating of PVA. John recommends painting this on in a downloads direction and flattening the grass down as you go.

Let this dry and tidy up any stray strands, cutting or filing them down.

Finally paint and weather to your desired coloured.

That’s it. I’m sure you’ll agree the results speak for themselves, it creates beautiful thatching that will add and compliment any layout.

Further examples of John’s outstanding work can be seen on his Facebook page.

Pictures, reproduced here by kind permission and (c) John Simpson.

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