Sunday, February 28, 2010

Alma Progress

This weekend was the time for landscaping, inside and out. Outside, I exploited our little break in the rain, and mowed the front lawn, pulled all the dandelions in the flower beds, trimmed back the lemon tree, and collected a bucket of lemons for friends. Inside, I continued working on Alma.

Last weekend, I tore out a bit of the Alma scenery, built up an embankment for the Alma station on the correct side of the tracks, and cleaned up the rough scenery in the whole area. This weekend, I covered everything with some fine, sifted dirt from the backyard, put down ground foam, and applied a bunch of flock-style tall grass with my home-made electrostatic flocking device. (Search for "flyswatter static grass" for details, though it looks like the article I used has disappeared.) I even managed to ballast the tracks, and things still appear to run ok. Here's progress photos from this weekend's work:

Here's what the scene looked like before two weeks ago. The station is a freelanced model I made about ten years ago when trying to survive through an East Coast winter. It's been a placeholder at Alma for a few years now, and while there was space for it against the backdrop, it never quite looked right.

Here's the scene with the static grass and ballast in. The dirt near the foreground tracks is sifted dirt from our garden. Living in the same area I'm modeling means that I can get accurately-colored dirt any time I want to. I dig some from the parts of the garden that haven't been tended for a long time. The color is close to a raw siena, and matches the base paint I use. The cut on the opposite side has the same dirt underneath, but the top is a sandy pinkish rock from Arizona Rock and Mineral. I was trying to capture some of the changes in soil color as we get closer to the San Andreas fault, but this stuff's worked better for portraying a sandy, unweathered soil for the cuts. I'll give it a few days and see if I still like it.

Here's Alma station and the first mock-up of the backdrop. I'm using images clipped from Google Earth again here, though this panorama's either a different time of the year, or just prints darker and greener. I'm still trying to figure out how to make the backdrop images match between Wrights and Glenwood. The hills are a bit too high here; I'll probably cut an inch or two off the bottom before installing the real backdrop, and it'll also be screened by oak trees and various decorative trees.

That retaining wall holding up the station is an obvious sight in the published photos of Alma (which I'd include except I'm getting a bad case of copyright infringement phobia - we'll see if I'm brave enough to scan photos another time.)

The hillside above Alma held the Alma Hotel, as this 1880's photo from Frank Rodolph shows. I'm thinking of putting up some tall, non-native trees and perhaps a whitewashed fence with a faded advertisement for the hotel on the far hillside.

Here's the completed scene as it looks tonight. This was taken before I removed the locomotive and painted all the rails with the Floquil rail color paint markers. They're much easier than trying to airbrush the track!

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