Giving nature a helping hand

Scenery is one of those things that's fairly personal. Each modeler has their way of achieving the look they want. Then there's the scale. An Oak tree in G would yield about a dozen or so of the same in N. The larger the scale the more detail you need to make it look realistic. So in creating the scenes, we have to give nature a bit of a helping hand.

As I pondered how the Hook River mountainside will look, the realization that I may need some colors that are not available and will have to make my own bits of ground cover foliage (not a lot, just a few patches). But, what to do on that score?
Sipping a cup of coffee, the thought came, why not use my coffee bean grinder and stick a bit of foam in, So that's what I did (yes it got hot). It needs a touch of yellow coloring to look right, but I now have some nice ground foam to work with.

There are a few modellers here who can do some very realistic scenery. Even to the point of spending a month building an almost perfect scale Oak tree from photos they have taken. Each bough and branch is in place and the color is exact. Looking at the scenes, I could not tell the difference between the model and the real thing (except for the tree leaves). Most model in 00 Scale, which is smaller and about the same as HO. If you're gonna do exact prototype, do it—just don't give others a hard time if they don't.

Geerally speaking, there weren't many modellers who went to such lengths when I did my model railroad in the 80's. A handful made their layouts artistic expressions. John Olson and Malcolm Furlow were two of them and way back some guy who built a layout named The Gorre and Daphetid (think his name was Allen or something like that).

Furlow, especially, was able to pack in the sense of mountain grandeur as a caricature. Extreme cliff faces and trestles that almost defied engineering principles by exaggerating the experience. When I first saw his HOn3 work my first thought was, this guy's an artist, not a model railroader per se. Nit pickers didn't like him (I know I had one get on my case and just told him to take a hike) and I think Malcolm dropped out of the scene because of those guys. He now paints.

So if you read this and want to do some model making that's out of the norm or you don't know the "prototype", you will get the same treatment. As I say at the bottom of the page quoting Kerouac, "I don't know, I don't care and it doesn't make any difference". Just make your model, enjoy it and screw the rest of them. It's no crime to alter nature a little on your model railroad.

One really big thing that's happened in the last 25 years is how water is modeled. I won't be doing any, but I like what I see has emerged.

Model rails as an artistic expression can be a lot of fun and quite fulfilling, so have yourself a ball.
Dec 17, 2017