Chooo Chooo!

December 11, 2011 at 21:17 (Blog, Work)

Some weeks ago the colleagues that I work with hinted that they wanted to glue some train-tracks together to make a permanent track that our kids could play with. We’re talking the Brio train type here, folks, not the REAL deal…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but waaaay back when (15-20 years ago) I used to create my own houses and landscapes for wargames. Yup, there it is… I’m a nerd. ^_^
Anyway, my mind immediately filled with possibilities, and I asked if I could try to do something a “little” more ellaborate than just gluing the pieces together. They more or less told me to knock myself out and have fun.

As a base I used several planks screwed together into a platform and glued some tracks onto it. I then gathered together some of the kids I work with and let them decorate it with empty milk-cartons, paper cups and various blocks and junk to create some kind of topography. (sorry, didn’t take any picture of that process, forgot).
After that I told the kids to tear up some old newspapers into tiny strips and pieces. I can’t express how much joy they got from that tiny piece of action. Suffice it to say that the volume went through the roof!
And then it was onto the sticky part: Dipping the papers into watered down wood glue and adding it on top as a surface and using it to fill cracks and openings.


Doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s the basic skeleton of the whole project. The roundish wooden blocks you see inside the tunnel was just there to keep the roof up while the glue dried.

As the basic shape started to get finished we glued sand onto the top. Just ordrinary sand taken from the sandbox outside.

As you can get a hint at in the last picture, the kids were active in helping me, both in applying glue and sprinkling sand on top. I just can’t show you the pictures I’ve got off them, due to legal stuff. Figure an arm is dicreet enough, though. :)

Onc the sand had dried into place the next step has reinforcing it. Using a mixture of 80% water and 20% wood glue, a hefty dose was brushed onto the whole structure. The watered glue would soak into and around the sandgrains, both binding them together and making them easier to prime later on.

Once all the glue had dried (over the weekend, just to be sure) I primed the whole thing in black. I’d have loved to use a black spray since that would have been faster, but alas. I had to make do with a paintbrush and black acrylics. Took the better part of three hours, both being observed and helped by the kids.

The next step is arguably the most fun: Applying paint!

The first step I did myself, painting the “mountains”, drybrushing with gray. If you’re unfamiliar with drybrushing, it’s a pretty simple procedure. Dip a brush (preferably one you don’t like much) into paint, then wipe of most of it on a piece of tissue paper. Then lightly drag the brush across the surface you want to paint. The residue on your brush sticks to the outer parts of the surface.

I do this repeatedly, gradually using lighter and lighter gray…

Next came the groun, and here I let the kids do a lot of the work, already having been instructed in how to do it by watching me apply the gray.

The lake/pond is painted myself, and then used a little brown to drybrush bothe the banks and a little over the whole structure to create a little variation in hue.

Next came the tracks themselves. Simple drybrushing with silver created a metallic surface. The bridge was painted in a tan color, then I used a blunt needle to scrape lines into the wet paint to create the brick-lines.

That concludes the project. It’s been a huge hit with the kids, and they love playing on it. I’ve also been asked by colleagues on other departments if I could make one for them as well. Since this whole thing took about two weeks to do (a lot of time spent drying) I’ve offered to show them how and consult, but they have to do the main work themselves. ;)

I leave you with a few more pictures of the (almost) complete work. I’ve forgotten to take pictures of the lake after I finished painting it (made it into a murky pond), and don’t have it available right now. Still, I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures, and that it has jogged your inspiration into gear. ^_^


1 Comment

  1. Marius said,

    Veldig veldig tøft!!!

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