Some of you may remember that back in March I built a couple of short sections of stone walling using brick papers from scalescenes.com. The first attempt was wrong as the stones were too big, and while the second attempt was better, the wall was just too flat with no relief. Having now abandoned brick papers for full structures in favour of embossed plastikard I decided I needed to have another go at building a stone wall. The result is this little test piece (using the driver from the Brian Madge Quarry Hunslet kit to give a sense of scale).
Personally I think this looks an order of magnitude better than my previous attempts. It did, however, taken an order of magnitude longer to produce as well. In fact that short piece of wall took all day, although some of that was waiting for DAS clay to dry. What you are looking at is a wall where each stone was cut and laid separately to produce a dry stone wall; albeit with PVA to keep the stones in place.
The technique I've used is based on Ian Nuttall's description of how he built dry stone walls for his layout (February 2013 edition of Railway Modeller). The idea is to create 6mm wide strips of DAS clay of varying heights that can be cut to make individual stones and used to model a 1' 6" wide wall. Rolling, measuring and and cutting DAS clay to the right sizes would be a pain, which is where the plastic tagliatelle comes in to play.
I built a jig from a sheet of 2mm plastikard and various sized square sections of plastruct. I used 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3.2mm, and 4mm sections to give five channels 6mm wide allowing me to model stones 4 1/2", 6", 7 1/2", 9 2/3" and 1' tall by simply pushing DAS into the channels of the jig. The problem is removing the DAS from the jig. The trick here is to place one of the plastic strips at the bottom of the channel, then add the DAS, and then just lift the plastic strip to remove the clay. Once the DAS has dried the plastic strip peels off easily and can be reused.
Once the clay strips have dried (I should possibly have left them a little longer but I was getting inpatient) they can be cut into individual stones; I found my track cutters worked really well for this bit. The wall is started by laying down a thin ribbon of PVA and placing the first course of stones. Small dabs of PVA are then used to add the further layers trying to avoid any leaking out the side of a join. I aimed for a level topped four foot high wall, before then adding the capping stones, which were slightly rounded, to give a wall approximately 4' 6" high. This seems to look about right next to the figure.
I painted the wall initially with RailMatch weathered stone (#2426) before giving the whole thing a black wash making sure to get the wash deep into the cracks where the base coat hadn't necessarily flowed. I then lightly dry brushed more weathered stone and some khaki (Model Color #988) to add a little variation. The final touch (which is mostly hidden behind the greenery) was to dry brush a little brown sand (Model Color #876) along the bottom of the wall to represent dirt having splashed up.
While the wall looked good at that point (I forgot to take any photos) I thought it was worth adding more scenery to see how it would look in the context of a layout rather than in isolation. I used some cheap burnt umber acrylic (I bought a large tube ages ago from WH Smiths) to provide a base colour and to hide the white cardboard. I then used Woodland Scenics green blend blended turf to provide ground cover before adding various shades of Woodland Scenics bushes and foliage clumps for bushes around the wall edges. The final touch was a little bit of yellow flowering foliage to the right side to add more colour.
Hopefully you will all agree that this looks a lot better than my previous brick paper attempts at making walls. Having said that it still isn't perfect, mostly as I think the proportion of large stones in the wall is too high; locally the walls are mostly small stones rather than large chunks. Changing the proportion of stone sizes though is easy so I think this is another scenic technique that I'm now happy with so another piece of the puzzle falls into place.