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Is the use of real organics in a diorama a good idea?

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  • Member since
    February, 2017
Is the use of real organics in a diorama a good idea?
Posted by ugamodels on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 10:11 PM

I have heard of people using things like dirt from the garden, tufts of grass, and twigs in dioramas. I often wonder about the risk of having substances that will decay, or might have bugs in them, or something of that nature. 

If you use organics, do you do anything to sterilize them? Are you worried about decomposition? Do you think there is anything to watch out for? 

Thanks! 

I type on a tablet. Please excuse the terseness and the autocorrect. Not to mention the erors. 

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:02 PM
I always followed Shep Paine's advice and sterlized whatever I dug up out of the ground or scavenged from outside. With soil, a quick trip into the oven ensured that whatever was in the soil was made safe for use in a diorama. Any more, however, I just don't bother with it at all because the market is filled with products to create better scenes which are typically more in scale and more convenient to use.
  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:48 PM

I use well sifted dirt from my yard in the few vignettes & dioramas that I have made. No problems from those. I also have used twigs gathered from various places, and no problems there either. One other organic source that I have used, and is perfectly safe, is food spices such as oregano to replicate foliage on the ground like dead leaves. Yes, there are plenty of things out there that you can buy to fill these roles. But if you're on a tight budget, a little creativity can make you money go further.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:05 AM

I hit everything with a couple of good coats of matte varnish when done. I think that's enough to keep critters from munching on it. So far (cross your fingers) no problems. 

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed." -G.K. Chesterton

 

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:31 AM

Here's a little decoration for a vignette, made with a piece of root from an arborvitae and some old tea leaves:

The shrub had died, so I had to dig it out.  I saved bits of the finer part of the root network.  I soaked them in a bucket of water for a little while, till the rest of the clumps of dirt dissolved and fell off.  Then I set the roots to dry in the sun.  I just cut little bits off as needed.  For the foliage, I used fine tea leaves collected after brewing up a cup.  I have a small plastic jar full of them.  I just brush a little white glue onto the roots and sprinkle the tea leaves over them.

"Never throw anything out!"

 

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    January, 2011
Posted by jackball74 on Thursday, March 30, 2017 5:21 AM

Nice work, Baron! Who's the figure by?

R.I.P. Orange Blossom Hobbies

  • Member since
    January, 2015
Posted by Moff on Thursday, March 30, 2017 7:32 AM

I've never tried using sifted dirt in my builds, preferring to stick to more refined and controllable pigments. However, I'm​ not averse to using some twigs or sticks for dioramas...depending on the project and application, they can be better choices than more expensive products. 

One of my favorite YouTube modelers, Hamilkar Barkas, is a big proponent of organic/backyard resources for dioramas...he uses dirt, twigs, and rocks to great effect in his builds. 

"Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union." - Josef Stalin 

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, March 30, 2017 11:33 AM

I used to build really large dioramas, the kind with railroad tracks

About the only real negative I encountered was using stuff that mice liked. Plants with seeds.

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Thursday, March 30, 2017 11:48 AM

jackball74

Nice work, Baron! Who's the figure by?

 

 
Thanks, Jack!  That's from Ulrich Puchala, from his old 54mm catalog of Seven Years' War figures.  He moved on to sculpt larger figures, but his 54mm figures are still available from Müritz Miniatures in Germany, http://www.mueritz-miniaturen.de/, who paid Ulrich for the rights to produce the 54mm series.  You might also get them through Chuck Robinson's Red Lancers, https://redlancers.com/, located here in PA.
 
The SYW series is based on illustrations from Adolph Menzel and Richard Knötel.  Though I paint mine in a gloss finish, because I like to evoke the look of a toy soldier, I like a well-detailed casting.  Puchala's figures are excellent, from this series to his Napoleonics to his WWII Luftwaffe ground crew figures.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Thursday, March 30, 2017 11:50 AM

GMorrison

I used to build really large dioramas, the kind with railroad tracks

About the only real negative I encountered was using stuff that mice liked. Plants with seeds.

 
Yeah, that's something I do keep in mind when I look at natural materials.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, March 30, 2017 12:00 PM
I use sifted/non-sifted dirt, dirt that has been pulverized by heavy equipment, twigs, pebbles,seeds, anything I can find and imagine to make a scene. I have used grass seeds to replicate fish and dirt that has been sprayed with a gloss coat looks amazingly like mud. Huh?

ON THE BENCH

1/35 Italeri Carro Armato M13/40
1/48 Italeri Hurricane Mk.1 Trop

In Que

1/24 Monogram 1930 Packard Bobtail Speedster
1/25 Monogram 57 Chevy Bel Air

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Thursday, March 30, 2017 1:56 PM

Dirt, twigs, etc is fine in my book.  But I draw the line at grass....I refuse to water and mow.Big Smile

  • Member since
    December, 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Thursday, March 30, 2017 4:51 PM

Without thinking I used moss and lichen on some lighthouse dioramas I did many years ao.   It took a few months and everything was brown and had shrunk.

Far to many scale train landscaping products available to go after live foliage.  IMV

Rob

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:02 PM

For those of you using real soil, do you bother sterilizing it, and how?  I haven't used real soil, but I had an idea that if I did, I'd stick it in a glass dish and microwave it, to kill anything living.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:05 PM

And while we're talking about natural products, winter is a great time to collect fine gravel or stone dust.  I get mine from the street out in front of my house, especially from piles of plowed snow.  I use an old garden trowel, or even an old tablespoon, to scrape the "dirty" layer into a plastic container.  When the snow melts, I pour off the water (and use that to water my plants), and then I pour the remaining slurry in an old baking dish, and stick it in the oven on the lowest setting.  Once the water is evaporated, I sift the material by size, and store it in plastic jars for use in dioramas.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:41 PM

the Baron
For those of you using real soil, do you bother sterilizing it, and how?

No I usually encase it in a clear coat, resin or paint.

Some examples

  

Dirt sea floor. This one has the seeds as fish.

 

 

ON THE BENCH

1/35 Italeri Carro Armato M13/40
1/48 Italeri Hurricane Mk.1 Trop

In Que

1/24 Monogram 1930 Packard Bobtail Speedster
1/25 Monogram 57 Chevy Bel Air

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, March 31, 2017 4:15 PM

On bases I use it as texture over a base of spackle. I brush on Future then sprinkle on the sifted dirt. Repeat as needed to get the look that I want. I'm pretty sure the Future will deal with anything in there unwanted. Adding any paint on top to color it just adds to the kill.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Friday, March 31, 2017 8:35 PM

jackball74

Were you an Orange Blossom Hobbies junkie? I loved that place, too bad it went under. I saw Pat from plastics at a show a few months back.

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Friday, March 31, 2017 8:43 PM

I gave up on dirt for terrain so i make my own out of Durhams Water Putty sprinkled with either fine play sand or crushed kitty litter. I then use craft acrylics to color the ground. After that I use diluted white glue as a bonding agent then dried flowers and foliage from HL.

Here is an abandoned tank dio using the above method. 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 12:07 PM

modelcrazy

 

 
the Baron
For those of you using real soil, do you bother sterilizing it, and how?

 

No I usually encase it in a clear coat, resin or paint.

Some examples

  

Dirt sea floor. This one has the seeds as fish.

 

 

 

 

Excellent builds, MC!

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 12:18 PM

Thanks!Big Smile

ON THE BENCH

1/35 Italeri Carro Armato M13/40
1/48 Italeri Hurricane Mk.1 Trop

In Que

1/24 Monogram 1930 Packard Bobtail Speedster
1/25 Monogram 57 Chevy Bel Air

  • Member since
    February, 2003
Posted by Jim Barton on Thursday, April 06, 2017 4:51 PM

the Baron

Here's a little decoration for a vignette, made with a piece of root from an arborvitae and some old tea leaves:

The shrub had died, so I had to dig it out.  I saved bits of the finer part of the root network.  I soaked them in a bucket of water for a little while, till the rest of the clumps of dirt dissolved and fell off.  Then I set the roots to dry in the sun.  I just cut little bits off as needed.  For the foliage, I used fine tea leaves collected after brewing up a cup.  I have a small plastic jar full of them.  I just brush a little white glue onto the roots and sprinkle the tea leaves over them.

"Never throw anything out!"

 

 

 

I can't read the tea leaves. Do you have a crystal ball?Big Smile

"Whaddya mean 'Who's flying the plane?!' Nobody's flying the plane!"

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Hatboro, PA
Posted by Justinryan215 on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 7:46 PM

I use natural stuff in the few I've done recently....

This one : 

 Return of the Jedi Speeder Bike build...finished by Justin Ryan, on Flickr

 

....has used coffee grounds in the groundwork.

 

This one. ...

 _mg_4729-01 by Justin Ryan, on Flickr

...has oregano as the autumn leaves.

And I built one with a beach base, and I used aquarium sand for the beach.

 

I just sealed it with several coats of clear after was done. ...

"...failure to do anything because someone else can do better makes us rather dull and lazy..."

Mortal as I am,I know that I am born for a day.  But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the Earth...

 

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