Creating Textured Walls and Floors
by Jeff Junker
The base is made of real-estate sign board with ¼” square balsa glued around the edge to act as a dam for the Plaster of Paris. After pouring the plaster onto the base, it was than leveled using a palette knife (A putty knife would work fine also.) Dipping the knife in water will make it easier to smooth the surface.
I then let it thoroughly dry – about a week (which is probably about 5 days longer than needed.) The next step is to wet sand the plaster until the surface looks like tile. Wet sanding keeps the dust down to practically nothing and I do it outside to make sure none of the dust migrates through the house via the air conditioning system.
After deciding what size the tile should be, I marked off the equal distance along the front and back (the floor was spaced at 1″; the wall at ½”).
Using a pencil and ruler to connect the dots (going right to left): the #1 hole in the back is drawn to the #2 hole in the front; the #2 in the back to #3 in the front and so on. Then I cross- hatched it, starting in the opposite direction – going left to right.
From here, use an Xacto #11 blade to etch the lines. (Should by some chance the knife strays and etches outside the line, think of it as adding character!)
I had to go over the lines several times to get the lines to the depth and width that looked best. Painting is done as one normally would do on plastic, using a black wash to enhance the appearances of the individual tiles.
There’s nothing like a textured wall to create additional atmosphere to any diorama. Sure, you can buy wall sections, but it’s just as easy to custom-build them for your particular scene.
Materials needed will be the medium to plaster the wall (water-based spackling paste like DAP or Woodland Scenics Foam Putty), acrylic paint, and model railroad ballast.
Put the spackling paste on a piece of wax paper or in a cup. Add some acrylic paint – the color depends on the type of wall you wish to create. I like gray-tones, so I use a medium gray. (The reason for adding the paint now is if a part of your wall chips while carving it, it will be same color throughout.) To break up the monotone, add some model railroad ballast in a contrasting color. I use a reddish Iron Ore for a gray wall. Mix it up, adding a little water if necessary.
Float the mixture on to the wall surface (foam core, bass or balsawood, real estate sign board, etc) using a wet popsicle stick or palate knife to smooth it out. After it dries, use an Xacto knife to etch the pattern you want. Let a black wash (black acrylic thinned with a lot of water) seep into the recessed areas between the bricks or stones you just etched. Drybrush some of the bricks with a light shade of gray to add highlights.
Photos by Phil Novak