Kevin and I got together for the first Wednesday night gathering, and started working on some water, both on the north end of Corinna and on Kevin’s covered bridge module.
I actually started work in Corinna late in the afternoon, because I wanted the first batch of color to be dry in time to start working with whomever came over. The first step was to paint the base coat on the creek bed. As usual for the base color, I chose the Behr Premium “Fedora” wall paint, and brush it on liberally. To urge the paint to dry a little more quickly, I used a fan, which worked perfectly. By the time Kevin arrived, the paint was completely dry!
Now that the base color was in place, I got out my reference photos and turned on my memory to start to work on the “look” for the water in this scene. One thing about the water in Maine that is striking is that it’s usually very clear. And, the bottoms of most ponds and streams like this have a kind of distinctive rockiness that needed to be captured.
I thought that one way to do this might be to use some “crackle” paint. Crackle paint is a thick, clear, gel-like substance that you paint over a base coat and allow it to partially dry. Then, you paint the still tacky surface carefully with a color that contrasts your base color. The thicker your coating of crackle paint, the larger your splits will be, so I applied a thin coat to the areas near the shoreline, and coming into the creek about 1/3 of the way on each side.
While waiting for the crackle paint to dry, I started setting in some of the additional flora that would be growing near the base of the spillway. I decided to try another experiment here, this time using bits of “Pot Topper” material to represent the vibrant plant life that often grows near creek beds. I had seen magazine articles about this material, but I was still skeptical until I saw it on the layout. The stuff looks perfect, and is a fraction of the cost of the Silflor products. It looks as if you could either use tiny tufts like I did here, or even plant large chunks wherever you need some bright ground cover.
By this point, the crackle paint had been drying for the prescribed length of time, so I applied a light coat of some lighter paint — a swirly mix of Woodland Scenics “Slate Gray” and “Concrete” colors. Initially, I wasn’t too happy with the look, so I added some more water and swirled it around a little more. The result looks fairly wrong here, but once the “water” gets poured on, things tend to darken up a little, so I decided to go with it.
I also decided that a few larger rocks were needed in the stream. In this case, there wouldn’t be a lot, but a few definitely were in order. We selected some of the flatter pieces from a bag of aquarium/terrarium decorative stone, and I placed them in the creek, above the bridge.
While all of this was drying, we turned our attention to Kevin’s bridge module. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pictures, but the effect we wanted there was a typical central Maryland/Pennsylvania creek. These creeks tend to have a sandy bottom with a jumble of rocks and stones.
For the sandy bottom, we used one of my favorite sand/dirt base materials — sanded grout over the Fedora paint. I tend to treat the grout just like any other scenic texture. I spread it over the still wet paint, and then soak it with “wet water,” and then continue to build on top of that. Once I have the look I’m after, I spray on some more wet water, and then saturate the area with diluted matte medium. For me, this is a tried-and-true method that always produces something that looks good.
By this time, lighter color paint on the Corinna creek bed was dry, but the crackling wasn’t happening. I decided to go ahead and pour the water anyway. And, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to try a material that I had previously had very bad luck with: Woodland Scenics Realistic Water.
The Realistic Water pours on a milky gray, and eventually dries clear. I know it’s supposed to. I’ve seen it. Of course, that was not my result the first time I used it, and I ended up having to start over. “On hand” sometimes trumps common sense, however.
One interesting thing happened, though — after the water was poured and had been setting up for a while, the crackling started below the surface. The result was looking almost exactly like what I had in mind.
And, as I headed out the door this morning, I went down and too a peek at the creek. So far, it looks as if it will actually dry clear, although there’s been significant shrinkage. After dinner tonight, I’ll do some more work in the area, and then another pour. And, of course, more pictures!