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"Thicket Tutorial" Topic

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18th Century

904 hits since 2 Jul 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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nevinsrip02 Jul 2018 1:07 a.m. PST

Since I received quite a few requests for a tutorial, I'll forego the magazine article and just publish it here. I guess the first step should be to gather up all the necessary ingredients that go into baking this cake.
Before we begin, let me say that I buy almost all of my supplies from Scenic Express. Great service, quick shipping and they carry everything. I'm linking to the site to make it easy on people who wish to  get started right away. I have no interest in the company and I am not an employee. I'm just a satisfied customer.

 Scenic Express! The Largest Selection of Scale Model Railroad Scenery on the Web.

So, here's your shopping list:

Sisal string……. or any sort of hemp that you can unravel into multiple strands.
Dark Brown Spray Paint… ……….I used Krylon Coco Brown, because I had a can of it in my paint cabinet. Any dark brown will do
6 MM Static Grass.. ………………….Any brand, any color will do.
PVA, Elmers…….. any brand will do.
Sharp Scissors ……………………..(Absolutely, no running with these!!)
Cheap, non scented, super hold, Hair Spray…… Dollar store is your friend, here. I buy 6 cans at a time. The stuff is essential for making trees, bushes, etc.
Wax Paper ……….regular wax paper. Perfect for drying stuff on. Easy to unstick from.
Mini Leaves…….. There are several good brands available, in all sorts of colors. Heki, Noch and some others, all make miniature leaves in every shape and color imaginable.

 TONGS. ……..    If I am only making a few bushes at a sitting, I use an old pair of Bar-B-Que type tongs to hold the bush away from me, as I'm spraying it with paint or hair spray.

CRAFT STICKS…….. If you're planning to make a lot of bushes at one time, then I suggest hot gluing the individual bushes to craft sticks. That way you can spray 5 or 6 at the same time. This is the preferred method.

HOT GLUE GUN……….  For attaching the individual bushes to the craft sticks.

TESTORS DULCOTE……… For the final touch. A spritz locks it all in.

Okay, let's begin.

Pour out a dollop of PVA glue into a small container about the size of a shot glass. Now cut off a piece of sisal string. Start with a 2 inch piece.
Dip one end of the string into the white glue about 1/2 inch down.
Rotate it around so that the entire end is cover in glue.
Place the sing on the wax paper and wait for it to dry.
Overnight is best.
Repeat this process, while varying the lengths of the cuts. Continue until you have enough pieces cut to complete your project. You may wish to start small and see how it works out for you. Don't get me wrong, this is a simple process that's hard to foul up. Anyone can make these. But trying a few test pieces never hurt anyone. These bushes are for 28 mm figures, so you don't need 6 or 7 inch pieces. Keep them short.

Once the glue has dried on your string pieces, you can begin to unravel them.
Just keep pulling the strands apart until you form an acceptable armature. Don't be afraid to crush these or to twist them every which way. The more irregular shaped they are, better they will look.

If you are just plan on making a couple of pieces, then skip this step.

Now that all your string is all unraveled it's time to glue them onto craft sticks.
Use the hot glue gun to fasten them to the sticks. Be sure to leave plenty of space in between bushes. You'll need room to spray paint, hairspray and to apply leaves/foliage/turf.
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Here's where it gets a bit tricky. Gather up your Coco Spray paint and 6 mm static grass. You're going to need a couple of cardboard boxes and a plastic tub to get through this step.
One box is to catch the over spray of the paint. I use a large box and I hold the craft stick inside the box, as I spray. The next step can be done several different ways, but they all produce the same result. It's a matter of preference, how you wish to proceed. You can spray paint the entire craft stick, including 5 or 6 armatures at once. Or you can remove them from the sticks, and spray one at a time.  Find what works for you.
If you do 5 or 6 at a time, you'll need to work fast. You can't take too long or the paint will dry and the fibres won't adhere to it
Open your container of 6 mm static grass and keep it handy. Now, spray as many of the armatures as you wish to work on. Give them a good thick coat.
As soon as you finish spraying, begin to sprinkle the static grass onto the painted armatures. The wet paint will attract the fibers and cause them to stick.
Cover the entire armature with the grass. Once that's done, blast the armature again with the Coco brown paint. This will cement the grass to the twine and really fill out the bush. Repeat this step until you are satisfied and you bush is full. Place these on our wax paper to dry.

Let these dry ovenight. If you're in a rush, you can move on to the next step after the paint is no longer sticky to the touch. However things that are done in a rush, generally look it.

In any event, now comes the time to douse the bush with the hairspray.
Make sure to use the overs pray box to catch the excess spray.
Give it a good blast all around. Don't be shy here. Soak that bad boy! On top, underneath and all sides. Fire away!!

This is where the plastic container comes in. One of those "shoebox" size containers is perfect. Okay now, holding the bush over the plastic box, begin to sprinkle whatever leaf/flock material you chose all over the bush. I use common salt shakers to dispense the flock, as it allows a nice even flow from the top down, rather than great blobs of flock falling onto you bush. Shake off the excess into the plastic box and examine your creation. If you're satisfied with it, then throw the completed bush into the second cardboard box to dry.
It's finished.
Feel free to give the finished piece another shot of hairspray, just to make sure everything stays together.
If you detect bare spots or thin coatings, then spray it again and repeat the process, until you have a full bush that you are happy with.
If you're going to use the same flock, then keep going.

If you decide to change flocks, then gather up what's left in the plastic container and put the excess back in your flock box. The plastic makes it easier to scoop up the excess and retrieve it, which is why I use it rather than cardboard.

You don't have to use leaves. You can substitute any sort of ground cover or Turf, depending on which type of vegetation you wish to represent. You can even customize your own mixtures. You can make bushes as full or as sparse as you wish. There really is no end to the various textures and colors that you can use to fill out these armatures.
Here are some examples
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I hope that this tutorial has been clear and easy to follow.
There's nothing complicated here. Just follow the steps and you'll be amazed what you can do.

gavandjosh0202 Jul 2018 1:26 a.m. PST


Lonkka1Actual02 Jul 2018 1:48 a.m. PST


Nice to get those few unclear materials/ stages clarified.


FlyXwire02 Jul 2018 5:37 a.m. PST

Thickets – well in part of the country we call these briars! :)))
(actually, printing out your tut now)

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2018 6:47 a.m. PST

A question about the 6mm static grass; I don't see it in any of the photos, perhaps that is just me not knowing exactly what I'm looking for though. Is a static grass applicator necessary in that particular step?

nevinsrip02 Jul 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

Is a static grass applicator necessary in that particular step?

Absolutely not. Just sprinkle it on with your fingers.

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2018 3:33 p.m. PST

Thank you! I have my list and I'm headed off to the store!

torokchar Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2018 5:28 p.m. PST

Beautiful Bill – Hey just so you know, Skipper John is my older brother!! Great looking stuff as always.

nevinsrip04 Jul 2018 1:45 a.m. PST

Johnny Horton sang:

"Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles. And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go"

Are these briars, brambles or bushes?

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2018 10:56 a.m. PST

So I got my supplies together. Went to Lowe's for the sisal rope. 27 cents a foot. "A bucks worth please." says I.

The rope is made of 3 strands and the 3 are of 5 strands each. 8 inches gives me 60 pieces! Dang! A bucks worth was way too much!!!

Now where is my Elmers?

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