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Clinic - Moving Mountains - Scenery Fundamentals

For this clinic we will concentrate on creating the hard-shell to which rock molds will be placed.  There are many ways to create the shell but I will cover a way that will help cut down some of the weight that is present in scenery.  

Instead of using lumber to create the vertical supports for the mountains I use Styrofoam.  It's light weight and you won't believe how fast you can accumulate some once you start saving it.  Most things that you buy today that comes in a box has Styrofoam used as packing to protect the product during shipping.  I use this foam to mount to the rear of the bench work, and in some cases, hot glued directly to the sky board.

You can create the side of your shell with screen wire, chick wire, and several other variants on that theme.  I don't like using wire for a couple of reasons.  First off you almost always end you cutting yourself on it which is never fun and second...you have to buy it.  I use a weave made of strips of cardboard.  Most grocery stores will give you boxes.  I go to my Sam's Club and get sheets of the stuff that comes between layers of bulk packaged paper towels.  They put a sheet between layers as they stack them on a pallet for shipping. 

Cut the cardboard to length from top to bottom first, about an inch wide, and hot glue them to the top of the Styrofoam and the bottom of the scenery area.  I space them apart 4 to 6 inches depending on how big an area I am working on.  You also want to make the strip a little long than is necessary.  This will allow you to create a shape to you mountain by bending the strip around in the middle.  We complete our base by weaving strips from side to side like a basket.  This is hot glued on either end and at each point where the strip touch.  Use clothes pins to clamp the strip together until the hot glue sets up.  Don't hold them with your hands because you WILL get burned.  I then take pieces of newspaper and wad them up to various sizes.  This is then taped to the top of the Styrofoam.  This will create the peaks of your mountains.

Next, mix hydrocal or molding plaster into a tomato soup thickness in a large tub.  Take paper towels one at a time and dunk them into the plaster.  Take them out of the plaster and spread the towel out over the weave of strips.  Repeat this process until the weave has been covered in plaster soaked towels.  There is no way to do this step without creating a mess so be careful.  Once this has dried you have a hard shell to which you can attach your rock molds.  To see how to create rock molds please see my clinic on 'Creating Rock Molds'.


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