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Thread: Plaster cloth substitute?

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    Default Plaster cloth substitute?

    I just found out I'm allergic to plaster cloth or the test that settles in it. Any ideas for a better way to have a layout for my layout?
    Thanks
    RMH

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    Styrofoam and Sculptamold?

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    corrugated cardboard strips hot glued in an over and under pattern to form the frame work then cover with a layer of masking tape, then paint dirt brown/tan then add sculptamold.
    Joe Fugate uses this method except he uses a mix of vermiculite/plaster and portland cement to cover the framework.
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    Thanks. I have styrofoam underneath and covered that with plaster cloth. On the part of my layout that's done could I cover that with Sculptamold? Where could I get Scuptamold? Michaels? Woodland Senics?
    RMH

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    I use Ultracal 30 for my hard shell, as far as I know its not a plaster product. the working time is about the same, but its way more durable than plaster, mixes the same recipe as hydrocal. The only issue is when you go to plant trees you have to use a masonry bit to get through it. you will destroy a regular one, but that's not a big issue. I buy my sculptamold from amazon in the 25lbs bulk box, defiantly cheaper than buying the three pound sacks.

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    Needing a lightweight layout to take to train shows, I simply carved the blue extruded foam. I used clear silicon adhesive to hold it together, and carved, sanded and abused with a coarse wire brush to get the shapes and textures I wanted, then touched up with colored plaster. No plaster cloth was used.

    I didn't simply make horizontal layers, but used the foam structurally. This mountain is entirely hollow:


    As you can see from this photo of the underside:



    Cheers!
    Gordon

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    Sculptamold is sold to model railroaders at hobby shops. Cel-U-Clay is similar and sold at art supply and craft stores and is usually cheaper. It comes in either white or natural. The natural is gray and makes stonework that looks real without any paint. Both can by molded just like plaster.

    Before somebody discovered that expired casting bandages were an easy way to cover scenery, they used variations of paper mache.

    We all know about using strips of paper and flour paste, but did you know both can be materials can be replaced. Instead of wheat paste, many people use diluted white glue. Others have use fabric sizing or starch.

    Most of learn that paper mache is made from strips of old newspaper. Well, not just strips but, small pieces or whole sheets. Other paper products are often substituted. Paper towels are a favorite. Some have found the kitchen rolls expensive and replace them with industrial brown paper ones. Other people have used cloth instead of paper. The fabrics range from gauze to bedsheets. Strips are popular, but it is much faster to drape a large area with a big piece of cloth.

    Even the concept of dipping pieces of material is up for grabs. When using large sheets of paper or cloth, it is much easier to first drape it over the large area first then paint the sheet with the stiffening agent. As the cover becomes rigid final shaping can be done.

    In the paper family celulose ceiling tiles have been used for thin layered rock faces with great success.

    Did you know that cement, especially asbestos furnace cement was a popular scenery material at one time?

    Beside the more ancient materials, there are several more futuristic material can be used.

    Sculpting various forms of polymer foams has been used. That board below the tracks works great above them too. It doesn't take skilled carving to make very rock like formations. Horizontal stacking is just one method. Vertical sheets are much faster to create height. Others just spray insulation over the framework and do some cleanup. The canned stuff is popular on this forum. I discovered that with careful application, the paints that dissolve, white beaded foam can sculpt rather than be convert to goop. I got some nice rock faces using auto primer.

    A cleaner way to form scenery is to use thermoforming sheets. This plastic material comes in different thicknesses and colors. To form the sheet into terrain you use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat an area then push and pull the material into shape. The Woodland Scenics grass mats are a form of this.

    The hobby has been around for more than a century. There are at least fifty ways to create terrain. A little look in many of the old model railroading books should reveal a lot more than I've outlined.

    Are you allergic to all plaster?
    While the Woodland Scenics plaster cloth may be a problem. Have you considered the bandages used to make casts? That's where the concept came from. American Science & Surplus in Chicago and other places sells expired medical ones. Being a medical supply, they are less likely to be a problem. Some hospitals or doctors offices may offer the old bandages for free. They could tell you if you'd have a problem with it. It might even be a form of plastic.

    Similar to plaster but chemically different is Hydocal. This is sold to hobbyists as it suppose to be better for modeling. Another material is used by dentists. It sets much faster and is lighter and stronger than plaster or Hydrocal. I'm not sure what it is called but look under dental casting material for it.

    The big question is, why did you think you needed to use plaster anyway?
    Woodland Scenics and the places they advertise, want you to, because it makes them more money. Their stuff is good, but it's not required.

    The only requirement to be a model railroader is that you model trains. Everything about how you do it is up for grabs.
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    Wouldn't paper mache be an inexpensive substitute, or just strips of paper soaked in wallpaper glue, I remember using that as a kid to make mountains.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Paper mache does seem the "obvious" answer. I've been happy with carved foam as some mention in my wargaming days. Some drywall joint compounds may help you smooth any rough spots if they don't happen to contain what you're allergic to.


    What exactly is it that you're allergic to? I thought Hydrocal and Scultpamold were both derived from the same sort of compound as normal plaster. Scultamold just contains paper fibers to make a plaster type of paper mache.

    One thing I've used in the past for other types of projects but it gets HEAVY is stucco patch. I used it for basing movable wargaming buildings that I wanted a heavy base to help keep them from getting knocked around. You're basically using cement. I only mention it because it's technically an option, but the weight probably takes it out of contention for anything large. You also need to mind how thick you put it as it can shrink and crack if it's too thick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    Cel-U-Clay is similar and sold at art supply and craft stores and is usually cheaper. It comes in either white or natural. The natural is gray and makes stonework that looks real without any paint. [emphais added] . . .
    I really like that about the gray Celluclay. This looks like one of the easier products to use. I was planning to add some gray concrete tint (we have a bunch from some remodeling projects) to a whatever I ended up using, but this already comes in gray and saves a whole step. The gray stuff is harder to find, and is actually kinda pricey, but I may go this way anyway for all the benefits mentioned. A five-pound bag of gray Celluclay at Amazon is $38.13, with free Amazon Prime shipping for Prime members. White tends to be cheaper, and is available from Walmart online for only $24.37 for a five-pound bag, with free shipping for orders over $50.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    A cleaner way to form scenery is to use thermoforming sheets. This plastic material comes in different thicknesses and colors. To form the sheet into terrain you use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat an area then push and pull the material into shape. The Woodland Scenics grass mats are a form of this.
    I was going to experiment with a thermoplastic called Wonderflex. It's fiber-backed so it has good structural rigidity, and seems to be the most appropriate heat-formable plastic for scenic applications. It's a white sheet material that readily accepts spray-paint and standard glues. The neat thing about thermoplastics is that you can re-form them repeatedly. Not cheap ($45.49 for a 43" x 55" sheet with free shipping), but it looks like pretty neat stuff. I looked into the Woodland Scenics grass mat, but it appears to behave more like a heat-shrink film rather than a more "moldable" material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by migalyto View Post
    I use Ultracal 30 for my hard shell, as far as I know its not a plaster product. the working time is about the same, but its way more durable than plaster, mixes the same recipe as hydrocal. The only issue is when you go to plant trees you have to use a masonry bit to get through it. you will destroy a regular one, but that's not a big issue. I buy my sculptamold from amazon in the 25lbs bulk box, defiantly cheaper than buying the three pound sacks.
    I found a 25lb. bag of Sculptamold at Amazon here for $51.95, with free Amazon Prime shipping. Do you think I can easily use my concrete-tint powder with Sculptamold to create a grey mixture? Also, what other benefits are there to be had by using Ultracal instead of Hydrocal? Lighter? Less-brittle? (Apparently, they're both gypsum-cement products.) I found a five-pound pack of Ultracal 30 here at Amazon for $17.99 with free Amazon Prime shipping. Same question with the Ultracal: Can I easily add my gray concrete-tint to it? By the way, is this the dental-mold material CNW was talking about? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    I found a 25lb. bag of Sculptamold at Amazon here for $51.95, with free Amazon Prime shipping. Do you think I can easily use my concrete-tint powder with Sculptamold to create a grey mixture? Also, what other benefits are there to be had by using Ultracal instead of Hydrocal? Lighter? Less-brittle? (Apparently, they're both gypsum-cement products.) I found a five-pound pack of Ultracal 30 here at Amazon for $17.99 with free Amazon Prime shipping. Same question with the Ultracal: Can I easily add my gray concrete-tint to it? By the way, is this the dental-mold material CNW was talking about? Thanks!
    I buy the Ultracal from Sheffield pottery http://www.sheffield-pottery.com/USG.../rmult3025.htm . Ultracal is an easy product to use, I like it because its so durable, and you have a little more working time than plaster. I have pounded rock faces off with a hammer and chisel and done very minimal damage to the hard-shell, couldn't of done that with plaster cloth. It makes beautiful rock castings, but it doesn't take washes well, and yes it can be tinted. sculptamold can be tinted as well, In fact I would highly recommend it so you don't have the white mound come up when you drill into it to plant trees. I didn't do this, and now its to late as I have to keep the same technique to keep everything colored the same, but next time I will defiantly tint it with tempra paint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by migalyto View Post
    I buy the Ultracal from Sheffield pottery . . .
    Thanks! I like how they say their 25-lb. bag of Ultracal is $29.95 delivered! (I just saw the fine print, but it's only $5.00 more for states other than the Northeast). I may buy some Woodland Scenics' tunnels and mountains to slather it onto so I don't have to build-up so much material from scratch. Thanks for all your advice!

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    I just called my local building supply (they carry a lot of plaster products), and they stock Ultracal 30. It's $42.95 . . . for a 100-lb. bag! I think I may go with CNW's recommendation, the Sculptamold-like paper-based product, Celluclay. Sounds easier to work with, and less messy. Plus, I'm guessing any mess is less "permanent," meaning easier clean-up? I would imagine Celluclay is also much easier to demo, if needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    I just called my local building supply (they carry a lot of plaster products), and they stock Ultracal 30. It's $42.95 . . . for a 100-lb. bag! I think I may go with CNW's recommendation, the Sculptamold-like paper-based product, Celluclay. Sounds easier to work with, and less messy. Plus, I'm guessing any mess is less "permanent," meaning easier clean-up? I would imagine Celluclay is also much easier to demo, if needed.
    Sculptamold is an excellent product!!! I put a generous layer on top of my hard-shell, all of my rock castings were blended with it, cant go wrong with it. As CNW has said there's no right or wrong way, just figure out what works for you and go with it.

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    I found some bulk-packaged Sculptamold ($41.02 for 25-lb. box), and Celluclay in gray ($96.74 for a 24-lb. bag).

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    Used dryer sheets have been used as a substitute for the cloth in plaster work.
    Bryan
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    Buying the stuff in bulk might be wasting money rather than saving it. Materials that react to water can go bad from the moisture/humidity in the air. Plaster, Hydocal, Sculptamold, cements, Gorilla Glue and others don't need much water to start the chemical reaction that is their curing process.

    Many a modeler has bought a 100 pound bag of plaster, use a few pounds, then come back to it a few months later and find it has become rock or sand.

    Even though Chicagoland is the size of a queen size bed, I used less than ten pounds of Cel-U-Clay over ten years. The material is used as a skim coat over packing foam land forums. Unless terrain is completely untouched like the moon, over time, it gets pretty flat. Wind and water take stuff from the high spots and use it to fill the low ones.

    One of the bad habits of our hobby is to keep using an old technique on top of a new one, that replaces it. The whole point of using the insulating foam was to create irregular terrain around the tracks. The point of covering the surface in multiple thick layers of plaster was the same.
    Last edited by ChicagoNW; 17th Jul 2016 at 05:19 PM.
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    When I do buy my product in bulk, I immediately transfer it to gallon size zip lock bags, squeeze all air out, store it in a plastic tote with a lid, where light and moisture cant get to it

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    Even though Chicagoland is the size of a queen size bed, I used less than ten pounds of Cel-U-Clay over ten years.
    Really? I didn't realize it could go that far. As I said, I really like that the gray Celluclay is already the right color. But I can only find the five-pound bags in gray for about $40 (shipped). So paying $81.45 (including shipping) for a 24-lb. bag seemed like a way better buy.

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