Well I finally did it. I made my own flexible terrain mat. Some of you have read Tobi's blog post on making a Flexible Terrain Mat. If you haven't it's worth the trip over there. I've had the canvas and some of the materials for about 6 months or so, I was lacking time and space in the garage to set this up and do it. I was inspired by Tobi's mat to try my own but the only thing about his post was the lack of details on HOW he did it. For example he doesn't specify how much water he mixed into the sand and paint.
So to give this a whirl I bought a small piece of artist canvas and the supplies and decided to take the plunge.
The bare white canvas. Tobi drilled screws or something like that into his table to hold the canvas down and to stop it from shrinking. First time out I just used some clamps to hold it place. The work space is 4'x4'.
I stopped by the local Ace Hardware and picked up 50lbs of Play ground sand for $5. Again no real proportions were given so I just poured some in remembering my scenery building days from theatre and a little bit of sand goes a long way.
The acrylic latex caulk. Inexpensive ones. I did notice that some of the caulk had silicon in it so I avoided that type.
The paint! Again at the local Ace they had these quart sized cans that had been returned and my 9 yr old daughter helped me pick out two different colors we thought would work out.
The rest of the supplies. Gloves (very needed), water, underbrush foliage, static grass and fine turf. Also a strainer and a pencil which you can't see.
The two buckets of paint, sand and caulk and water. I used all three tubes of caulk about 1 1/2 in each bucket. I poured in the water and then realized I had too much water. What should have turned out to be a paste like substance was more like a thick soup. I added a little more paint to the mix. I put on the gloves and mixed it all together. This took the longest amount of time. The caulk does not break up easily in paint, sand, water mixture. I'm thinking for the next one I will pick up an used hand held mixer at Goodwill and use that instead.
So I smeared the mixture onto the canvas. The darker color was a lot more runny and I feared it wouldn't work. I was also unsure how smooth the mixture should be on the canvas. I tried a few times to smooth it out but it only made it worse. Again all of this was applied by hand. No brushes or putty knives etc..
Now the flocking. Note to anyone who decides to do this. When opening up one of Woodland Scenics big bottles of Fine Turf, make sure you have opened up the shaker side first before you turn the thing over. See that big dark patch, yep the spoon side was open. Oh well as Bob Ross would say, "A happy accident".
These three pictures show the different colors of static grass I used and the little bit of clump foliage. To apply this I dumped some of the grass into my strainer and then used the pencil to stir it out so it would clump up and would fall where it wanted too. It worked really well.
So I let this dry for 24 hours. The following day after work I grabbed my bottle of Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement with the spray top and sprayed down the whole mat.
Again another 24 hours rolled along and when I got home from work everything was nice and dry. I took the clamps off and there was very little shrinkage of the canvas. I picked up one side to see how much flocking would come off and the barest amount fell off. So far so good.
I trimmed the excess canvas off of the sides and then asked my wife and daughter to come and give their opinion. Essentially I wasn't sure which colored side I liked better. I'm leaning towards the lighter side. My daughter liked the lighter side but wife liked the darker side.
Which side do you like? I asking this seriously so when I do the larger 8'x4' canvas I will get only one color this time. I don't think I should go darker as it would hide the flocking but I could be wrong. Might need to do another test piece.
When I was all done, I rolled the thing up and unrolled it and nothing fell off.
I learned a few things with this piece.
1. less water!!
2. need something else to mix it all together with.
3. For the bigger canvas, bolting it down will be better than the clamps. They took up too much room.
4. Instead of applying the static grass in separate waves blend them all and then sprinkle it on. Will give a better more realistic look.