Make your own ground foam

my DIY ground foam on a layout

Making your own ground foam for scenery is fun, much cheaper than buying the commercial stuff and gives your more flexibility in your scenery.

But finding the blender that produced the right results took a long time. Here’s how I do it and the blender I use.

I use a lot of ground foam ā€” the little spongy stuff from Woodland Scenics and others ā€” to create vegetation and foliage on my layouts and dioramas. An awful lot!

The Woodland Scenics stuff is great, I use it a lot, but the cost can mount up.

Instead I now make my own.

For starters, you need a blender.

This sounds easy but it took me quite a long time to find one that cuts up the sponge correctly.

Some don’t do anything. Literally.

One one model, I tore off bits of sponge, filled the container and left it on max for a few minutes only to find exactly the same size bit of sponge on opening the lid.

Various YouTube videos suggested adding water to the sponge first but this didn’t help either. I just ended up with the same size chunks only this time they were soggy.

I tried others. These wizzed the sponge in to particles that were to small. They ripped it apart, rendering my yellow sponges into tiny particles that are more like scatter than ground foam and I already have a technique for making scatter. I guess these blenders and juicers were intended for turning fruit and vegetables into Smoothies or purees so it wasn’t the fault of the blender but it wasn’t helping me.

Several people suggested the old fashioned metal grinders I remember my mum using. The type where meat etc was pushed in at the top, a wooden handle was turned and minced meat appeared out of the side. I tried one out and while it certainly produced sponge of the right shape it would take hours and hours of hard work to produce even a small amount of material.

In the end, I found this one on eBay.

As soon as it arrived, I tore off bits of sponge in chunks about 10 mili-meters, from the inside of the sponge so as not to get any flat surfaces in the final product, and filled the smaller of the containers provided.

Food blender for making model railway ground foam

It took me a long time to find but this blender makes perfect ground foam.

With anticipation, I turned it on at it’s lowest settings for about 2 minutes, switched it to a higher setting for approximately 30 seconds and then unscrewed the top and peered in.

A tub fill of perfectly sized bits of sponge looked back. Woohoo!

It’s easily the best blender I’ve tried for making ground foam.

The small bits it produces are irregular shaped and a nice mix of small sizes for scenery in the main model making and railway scales and wargaming use.

With the sponge cut to size and shape, it needs colouring.

(Another advantage of making your own is that you can make it in whatever colours you want instead of what the manufacturer produces).

colouring sponge for model making vegetation ground cover

With the sponge cut up into bits, stir it into a mix of your preferred colouring.

I like dark Greens so opted for a mix Raw Sienna, Olive Green and Sap Green (I use Winsor Newton Acrylics although any acrylics should work) in a ratio of 5:2:1 mixed into approx 100ml of water, but just experiment until you get a watery colour you desire.

Into this dark Green fluid I spoon in the sponge and churn it around in until all the bits are saturated. I find plastic food containers, recycled from takeaways ā€” I had a order Chinese just to test this process šŸ˜‰ ā€” make ideal mixing pots for this.

Push and mash it around until the sponge has soaked up all the water and there’s nothing left.

Then it’s just a case of laying them out on Greaseproof paper or tin foil and leaving to dry. It took approx. at 36 hours in a centrally heated home.Ā  (I popped them into the an oven on a low heat for a few minutes to speed this step up but I’m not recommending anyone else do due to risk of fire).

And that’s it.

I now have as much ground foam as I want, in whatever colours I want.

To me it looks and acts just like the Woodland Scenics equivalent but it’s cheaper and I have the satisfaction of knowing I made it myself and, between you and me, had fun getting my fingers covered in paint šŸ™‚

It can be held in place on a layout (as I’ve done in the picture at the top), diorama or wargaming board to create really good looking vegetation or foliage with no more than PVA.


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