More terrain-making, and a new material

I'm trying out another river segment, built in pretty much the same way as my first one, but this time I'm using a a material that is new to me, SculptaMold from Amaco. I saw it used on Luke's APS on Youtube and liked the look of it, so I popped down and bought a bag from Gordon Harris art supplies. It cost me about twenty-two bucks for about 1.3 kg, which should be enough to do a reasonable amount of terrain. It would probably get a bit pricey if you wanted to build a whole table, but for my purposes it's OK.

It's a plaster and paper (?) fibre mix; I don't know if there's anything else in there. Depending on the amount of water you use it can be mixed to a cottage cheese-like paste, as I've used it here, or to a more liquid slurry that can be cast in rubber moulds. It sets up more slowly than plain plaster; by the time I'd finished laying out the river banks and setting in all the gravel, it was still quite workable, so I slapped together a little rocky outcrop on a plastic cutting board, using some bits of pine bark and the left-over goop from the river banks. I wasn't really keeping track of time, but I'd guess that you probably have 15 to 20 minutes of working time, which is plenty for most things.

When it's wet, it retains a quite knobbly cottage cheese texture, which is fine if it's going to be under flock and stuff. If you want a smoother finish though, just leave it for about another ten minutes or quarter of an hour to stiffen up a bit, and then it can be smoothed with wet fingers or modelling tools, or just with a wet soft brush.

It's early days yet, but at first acquaintance I think I'm going to like it.

Later...

OK, so here are the two pieces, painted but not yet flocked and vegetated.

The SculptaMold takes longer to set fully than I'd assumed from Luke's video, but I have a little toaster-oven, and an hour or so in that at its lowest heat got everything set solid.

Something that this stuff has in common with regular plaster is that it's bright, bright white. I think it would be a good idea to add some ink or paint or something to the mixing water, to stain it it right through. That way, any pin-pricks of white left behind after painting will be avoided.

The river banks have been left just as the stuff goes on wet, and you can see that it has quite a knobbly texture. The SculptaMold on the little rocky outcrop was smoothed a bit with wet fingers after it had stiffened up, but not set fully, and it's a lot smoother where I did that. It looks a bit rugged in this photo, because the bark pieces forming the cliff face are facing the camera.

Painting the knoll has revealed that, though definitely tougher than regular plaster, SculptaMold terrain will still definitely need to be on a protective base of some sort. The edges are vulnerable to crumbling under handling otherwise, and as I haven't tinted it, any breakages are pretty obvious, being glaring white.

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