I’m caught between a rock and a hard place as it were, because I want to create a miniature model, but I don’t know how to achieve the rocky surface/texture I’m looking for…
I will explain more momentarily, but first… do you recall my I am wearing my sad face blog from a few weeks ago. In that column I mentioned how I had come across an old television (circa 1950s) and my plans for using it as the basis for my latest hobby project.
Now, generally speaking, I try not to do anything nasty to old pieces of electronic equipment, but the television repair guy from whom I purchased this unit assured me that it was “dead in the water” and there was no reasonable chance of ever getting it to work again, so I didn’t feel too bad about removing what was left of the electronics, including the main cathode ray tube. (I took all of this this stuff down to my local technology recycling center for safe disposal, with the exception of the vacuum tubes, which I’ve kept for “show and tell” when I give an occasional talk to students.)
The cabinet itself looks really nice overall, but it does have some dings and scrapes and worn places, so at some stage I’m going to have to refinish it. Someone recommended an old book called The Complete Book of Furniture Repair and Refinishing by Ralph Parsons Kinney and I managed to pick up a second-hand copy from Amazon. Actually, by some strange quirk of fate, while I was visiting my local Home Depot store recently I saw that they have a free Cabinet Refinishing tutorial in the paint department every Saturday at 1:00pm, so that’s where I will be this coming weekend.
My TV cabinet with the electronics removed
At first I couldn’t work out how to remove the glass from the front so I can clean it and also reach inside to work on my model. I knew that there had to be a way, because I’m sure that screens were occasionally damaged and it would be silly to expect the repair man to disassemble everything just to replace the protective glass panel. And then, when I was moving the cabinet around the garage, I grasped the strip of wood at the top of the screen and felt a screw hidden under the overhang. There are three such screws and I am sure that if I remove them I’ll be able to easily lift the glass out to allow me to play around.
The starting point for the miniature model I wish to create was a caveman scene I ran across on Google Images as shown below. The side of the cave closest to us will be the TV screen, so the “entrance” to the cave will be located toward the back of the set.
Of course I’m not going to replicate this particular scene, but I do like the general idea. I’m thinking of having a wood fire in the middle of my cave with folks sitting around it (I can use flickering LEDs to give a fire effect).
Note the mountains and sky and so forth that you can see through the entrance to the cave. In my case, I’m planning on having a flat-screen LCD mounted on the back of the TV set. I can use a cheap-and-cheerful notepad computer (that I can pick up from the technology recycling store) to drive this. This will allow me to display a variety of different scenes as required. I might even use a 3D package to render grandiose scenes (or, more realistically, ask one of my graphics artist friends to do it for me [grin]).
In fact, we could tie this to the time of day so that daytime and nighttime in the real world are mirrored in the model. We could have clouds gradually moving across the sky in the day; and then a huge moon and shooting stars and fantastic images of the Milky Way visible at night. We could also present really amazing lightning displays in the model when it’s storming outside my house in the real world. Maybe we could go one further and map events seen through the entrance to the cave in the model onto the four seasons in the real world (snow in the winter, and so on and so forth).
I’m also thinking of having a waterfall on one side looking a bit like the one in the image below. This wouldn’t have real water of course – it would just look like water.
I’ve been meandering around the Internet looking at different images of caves, just to gather some thoughts about different structures and the shaping of the walls and textures and colors and suchlike (a couple more examples are shown below).
My current problem is that I’m wondering how to obtain a realistic-looking rock texture for my model. As a first pass, I’m planning on creating a framework out of chicken wire, overlaying this with paper mache, and painting it to look like rock, but I’ve been told that this won’t look as good as I’m hoping. I’ll still try, of course, but I’m also starting to search for alternative solutions. I did look on Amazon for books on creating dioramas and landscapes for railway models, but every one I’ve found has mixed reviews – some folks say “this is great” while others say “this is rubbish” or “you can’t get these materials anymore” or “the author is a complete and utter idiot,” none of which is tremendously encouraging. So, as always, any ideas you have would be very gratefully received…
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