I’m a huge fan of plaster cloth. It’s messy, it works and it’s super satisfying but it also costs. Until now.
I love plaster cloth.
Am I the only one who finds getting my hands covered in it and then washing it off later deeply gratifying? Please tell me I’m not — having just told the world my little secret that would be so awkward…
But more importantly, it’s also one of my best go-to materials for scenery construction.
Lay the foundation’s of your hills, mountains, tunnels and even lakes and rivers; cover with plaster cloth; allow to dry, and then paint and apply scatter, static grass and rock faces and you have it: super scenery. It’s wonderful stuff.
The problem, of course, is that it costs. Sure at around £8 for 10sq feet, if you use the Woodland Scenics variety, less for other brands and makes such as ModRoc, it’s not a lot but it still costs.
And, as I’ve said numerous times before, if I can figure out a way to make something instead of spending money on it then I’d much rather do that and then put that money towards something that I can’t make — like a new Hornby, Bachmann or Dapol loco.
Plaster cloth or modelling rock (ModRoc) is ripe for this.
After all, how difficult can making it be? It’s just cloth and plaster of Paris right? And even better, if I use my own cloth I wouldn’t have the annoying holes often seen in modelling plaster bandages and which need covering over later.
All seems good until I tried making my own.
I just couldn’t get it to work with the finish I wanted.
Whatever I tried It just didn’t lay how I wanted or dried as expected. I just ended up with a gloopy mess and a ruined t-shirt that I was using as a test fabric.
But I did get my hands covered in plaster and had a fun few minutes washing it off so it wasn’t a complete disappointment 🙂
Second Attempt – DIY Plaster Cloth Success
With my hands dry, I then went in search of other techniques. And after a lot of reading, chatting with the MRE community and watching YouTube I came across the following video by Alan Plumb. He’s a man after my own heart and revealed a slightly different technique that produces much better results than my attempts.
(The guide to making plaster cloth starts at 10.16mins in).
The difference is that this uses a mix of soapy water, filler and plaster. This combination is something I didn’t try and on using this it works so much better. I’ve since used this approach on a few trial landscapes already and it really does work.
No more Woodland Scenics plaster cloth for me but my hands still get delightfully messy! Thanks to Alan for sharing.
Go and give this technique a go and let me know how you get on.
>A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.