How to apply static grass to miniature bases without an applicator?

How to apply static grass to war game miniature bases when you don’t have an electric applicator.

Static grass, the short fibres that stand up straight to give a more natural look for grass, is typically applied to miniature bases and dioramas using a static grass applicator. You can make your own or buy it from World War Scenics amongst others, their 2mm length grass is ideal for miniatures.

To apply the grass to a base, you usually need an applicator. A device that creates a static charge as the grass is sprinkled over the area. I tested and picked the best static applicator a while back but what if you don’t have one of these?

Well, there is an alternative.

What you’ll need

How to apply static grass without an applicator

First, inflate your balloon and tie it shut. Rub this on a cloth to build up a static charge.

Next paint on some PVA, or your preferred equivalent, to the base as described here.

With that done, hold the base upside down and throw some of the static grass against it. The fibres will stick in the glue and hang down. 

Now turn to the base over and hold the balloon just above the grass. The static charge on the balloon will attract the fibres and lift them up. Some will come off but others will remain stuck in the glue but not stand vertically.

You may need to repeat the process several times to cover all areas of the base.

If the base is too large to hold upside down, just sprinkle the grass on the area as above and wave the balloon over it as above but do so with smaller amounts of grass in each application – so the grass doesn’t clog up and there’s more opportunity for the individual strands to be lifted up by the static of the balloon.

Finally, pop the balloon 🙂

This technique isn’t one that I’d like to use for a large area of static grass but for small layouts and Warhammer miniature bases such as 25, 32 and 40mm it’s okay and can be just as effective as an expensive applicator. My recommendation to get the best bases, however, is still use an applicator, read my review of the best applicators including lower-priced versions.

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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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