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Plaster of Paris for Dioramas

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  • Member since
    January 2021
  • From: Somewhere near Chicago
Plaster of Paris for Dioramas
Posted by Teenage Modeler on Monday, April 26, 2021 7:37 PM

Hello. I just recently bought a tub of Plaster of Paris (the powdery one) from Menards. I will use it to shape the terrain of my small diorama. Is that fine?


I also made a tree from thin wire for foundation. I plan to coat the foundation of the tiny tree (1.5 inches tall, dinosaur for reference) with the plaster.


Is Plaster of Paris fine?


Also, I don't want to ask my dad to buy more stuff, since we only have a small budget for scale modelling, and he would say "Use what you already have at home!"

No signature needed, just my head!



  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10:52 AM

Plaster of Paris should work ok for your base of a diorama. The tree based off wire is a novel approach. Start looking around the house for other things as well. Especially items that are being thrown away. You'll surprise yourself on how you can salvage items for use into model building. Another possibility for trees are weeds or other plants in the yard. Pull them and let the roots dry out. The root makes an excellent tree base. Spices from the kitchen such as oregano can be used for leaves on the tree and as ground cover. Unraveled twine cut into small bits can be used as clumps of grass. Talcum or foot powder mixed with paint works great for mud. 
Have fun with it and good luck!


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

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton



  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 11:09 AM

Kitty litter makes a great addtion to diorama bases as well for debris.  With plaster you have to plan ahead to get your textures on while the plaster is still wet otherwise it dries pretty smooth.  Here I added a rock from outside, kitty litter and a few weeds 




  • Member since
    May 2020
  • From: North East of England
Posted by Hutch6390 on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 11:18 AM

If you plan on having any contours e.g. slopes or bumps in your diorama base, you can use other things (odd bits of wood or cardboard etc.) to form the bumps, and just use the plaster to cover them & smooth the edges.  This can save a lot of plaster.  It's good to see a young, keen modeller - good for you!Smile

Vell, Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?



  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 12:28 PM

Note also that Plaster of Paris can generate quite a bit of heat while it's curing. Usually not enough to melt anything...but it can actually burn sometimes if you get it on your skin.

And, just as a personal view, be careful with natural products like spice leaves if you live in a high humidity area. Mold can be a real problem with time.


George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 12:43 PM

I avoid using anything like seeds because it will attract vermin.



 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Thursday, April 29, 2021 5:48 PM

Teenage Modeler
Is Plaster of Paris fine?

It's very finely ground, yes.

It's fickle, too.  There's a sweet spot between "too wet" and "too dry" that can be hard to get to reliably.  How humid a room is matters in mixing.  Use the proportions listed on the packaging, but "sneak up" to the water amount prescribed.  Easier to fix "not wet enough" than "too wet."

It can have a really short "working" time, too.

Plaster often does not "like" being worked thick.
Remember that it's meant to be spread very thin on walls.

So, you may need several thin layers--and they need to dry completely in between.

I'm not much of a fan of plaster of paris for use on walls much, even with 40 years' experience in building trades. 



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