Tag Archives: mortar

The Bridge – the next chapter

Other than setting the bridge into the landscape and adding a bit of weedy flora, the road bridge is more or less done.

A Southern Region horsebox and 12T MOGO disappear under the bridge heading towards the MOD sidings...
A Southern Region horsebox and 12T MOGO disappear under the bridge heading towards the MOD sidings…

Here are the things I’ve learned:

  • Rendering stonework is not the hard part
  • Roads and lanes are very difficult. To start with, they’re not even black…
  • Pigment powder is very, very dense, no matter how little you think you’re using…
I'm going to have to think about that road surface...
I’m going to have to think about that road surface… Yes, the inside wall is whitewashed and there’s a wooden rubbing strip

So, I think it’s time to look at track… Let’s get something running!

Building Bridges

Where was I? Oh yes. I spent days, yes, days, applying stonework to my MDF bridge armature using my DAS clay technique.

In the end it looks great. A bit of a caricature of vernacular stonework if I’m honest, but as the scale gets smaller a bit of emphasis helps.

Okay. I know the arch is asymmetrical. But there’s a story behind it. At least, there will be…

A few weeks ago I was in Home Depot and I noticed in the shaky can section they had a textured “granite” spray, so this was a chance to try it out. After masking out the roadway and whitewashed walls and wooden rubbing strip I spent a happy moment in the garage carefully priming the structure. This paint goes on really thick, so take your time with several thin coats letting it dry in between

In the event it was pretty cold there, so the paint had a problem “drying” in the garage, so in the end I brought it indoors, where Mrs Hill and I spent a heady night with the bridge perched above a heating vent.

Once again, the texture was possibly a bit much, but as I started to render the surface back it started to look pretty good. I also started to pick out individual blocks in various shades of grey. Just a fine brush and a palette of black and warm white with the occasional bit of pink. Yes. Granite has pink in it. I also treated a couple of areas with a mossy green colour under ledges and in corners although these aren’t evident in the images, but will pull out when I apply the final matt varnish coat… I hope.

Initially I used dropper bottles to drip various mixtures of grey/cream to represent mortar between the stones. Moisten with “wet-water” first. If you dilute your mixtures correctly, at first the courses look pretty garish, but as the paint dries it cuts back. If I found any particular spot was looking a bit too much I used a torn edge of paper towel to soak up the excess. Once dry use a stiff dry-brush to cut it back further if required

You’ll notice that above the tracks I’ve tried to imply soot and grime from the steam and exhaust of the engines. Also, on the right I’ve started to suggest the cornerstones have been painted white for safety reasons. There will be a platform continuing under the bridge. I’m also going to place a light in there for effect – and the convenience of people waiting for a train.

Tailgating? What’s that?

And this is where I’m at. A bit of a local traffic jam on the bridge where the new NHS midwife is on her way to a prenatal home visit. Obviously, she’s new to Dartmoor from the Big City or she wouldn’t have a Morris Minor convertible. Just wait for the first real downpour or blizzard… Meanwhile the RAC guy is on the rounds, fixing the “Do Not Feed The Ponies” signs and rescuing damsels in distress.

So now the bridge awaits the application of  weathering powders and a bit of plant life sprouting from appropriate places before blending into the landscape.

The road surface – actually one of the most difficult modelling challenges – is also awaiting treatment a la Kathy Millatt, while the wooden rubbing strip is going to be aged using another fine product, MicroMark Age-It-Easy.

Time to get the mortar in – II

Yesterday’s efforts weren’t as effective as I would have hoped.

The blocking and embossing techniques are good at establishing the texture of a stone wall, but so far, all I’ve tried has knocked all the effort back into blandness, only a step up from using embossed plastic card.

So, for the next step, I’ve taken some time over making up a dilute wash of a vaguely cement/mortar type colour. The thing is, you can be too careful. At first the mix was far too dilute, and for me the correct mix seemed to be just past the point when you start thinking, “This must be too thick.” In fact in the end I went even further.

To apply the mortar I arranged surfaces to be treated as close to the horizontal plane as practicable. At first I used an ingenious combination of third-hands and a digital level to set the plane. But let me tell you. Don’t waste your time. If it looks close to, it’ll be okay.

Dropper and Dopper - see what I did there?
Dropper and Dopper – see what I did there?

So, here is the first pass. I used a dropper bottle, available from your recycling bin or local craft store, to dribble my acrylic mortar slurry – in this case, a slightly green tinged beige suggesting moss and algae for this location by a Dartmoor river/stream/leat – and after seeing how it was drying out, dopped off any excess with a stencil sponge. Is “dopped” a word? I think you know what I mean.

Already showing more character, even if it's looking like a new wall although the
Already showing more character, even if it’s looking like a new wall although the “mortar” drops back as it dries

Once that rendering was dry, I dropped a slightly thinner black wash to give a little more relief. Once again, areas which took too much paint were adjusted with the sponge dopper

Close to good... finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in
Close to good… finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in

The effect is far more evident to the naked eye, and will get a little more apparent upon receiving its final fine matte coat in situ.

So, the next step is the entire Boltorr dam wall itself. I learnt a lot from the smaller bridge abutments, so hopefully I’ll get this done quite quickly.

Before the structure is set in stone, as it were, I want to fix a couple of features, some iron rings, and possibly, where my masonry looks a bit suspect, a couple of ties, all nice and rusty and streaking down the wall.

I also need to get the roof of the brick arches correctly coloured before I forget!

Materials used: foam board, DAS Clay, PVA glue, heat glue, UHU cement, cheap acrylics and paint samples, Woodland Scenics Earth Colors Kit C1215, various cheap brushes and sponges, clay roller.