When you need a bit of greenery on the bases of a few figures, shop bought scatter material is a convenient option however when you want to cover a whole table the cost can be a bit prohibitive. Consequently the folks over at miniwargaming.com decided to make their own and in this article, they tell us how:
After considerable research (if I don’t find something through Google it probably doesn’t exist) I finally found some information about how to to make modelling flock from sawdust. However, we quickly found that the instructions were inadequate. Our first attempt was very brown (not green like grass) and was much MUCH coarser than the shop bought scatter materials. Nevertheless, we would not give up that easily. It took us four tries before getting the recipe just right, but we did it!
The tubes of paint that we used are 4 U.S. fl oz (118ml), bought from a dollar store for, you guessed it, $1. The first step is to water it down. We use a gallon sized ice cream container and emptied the entire 118 ml tube of green paint into it before filling it to a depth of 3cm (about 1 1/4 inches) with water.
Note that the colour of your flock will be slightly browner (because of the colour of the sawdust), than the green paint that you mix; so choose a colour paint that is slightly brighter than your desired modelling flock colour. You should also take care not to water down the paint too much. That was our first mistake and even though it started out a nice green it ended up an ugly brown, which was useful only as dirt.
You can get the sawdust from any number of manufacturing facilities. Just think of somewhere they use wood and go ask. Most will be more than happy to hand over a garbage bag full free of charge (as the have to pay to get it taken away otherwise).
Note that the best stuff comes from sanding and fine sawing as opposed to the kind of rough cutting that goes on at lumber yards, but steer clear of dust from manufactured boards such as MDF because the resins used in its manufacture can be quite nasty and inhalation in something to be avoided.
Add the sawdust to the paint (as opposed to adding paint to sawdust). Add it in small amounts to turn the watered down paint mixture into a thick sludge.
Continue adding sawdust a bit at a time and mixing well until you reach a point where it becomes hard to mix in i.e. it becomes hard to get rid of the brown sawdust. This is the point where you should stop. If you stop sooner than this your flock will dry in clumps and will not be fine enough. However, don’t expect your flock to be as fine as the shop bought version at this point. That will come later.
You will now need to spread out the modelling flock to dry. We use two cookie sheets to dry out the amount of flock made with our proportions. Don't pinch the ones from the kitchen unless you want to incur the wrath of the patisserie chef, although they might consent if you promise to cover them with aluminium foil first.
Spread out the damp modelling flock as evenly as possible, then put it in a non-windy location for 24-48 hours. Make sure it is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.
The last thing you will need to do is take a fine strainer (that’s a strainer that has small openings, not a good looking strainer), and screen the modelling flock through it. There may be clumps that are just too hard. You can either work really hard to get them through, or just toss them aside for use as coarse foliage.
The final image below shows the flock in use on a terrain piece by the folks at miniwargaming.com
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TerraGenesis was created in 1997 by Gary James and is currently owned, edited and maintained by Andy Slater, however the ideas and opinions expressed are those of the individual contributors. TerraGenesis and its content are © Andy Slater, unless otherwise stated, and should not be reproduced without permission.
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