Friday, August 12, 2011

Frugal fruits of the foamy forrest: Making foliage for a couple of bucks

You know those times when your standing in the hobby store and you have that tub of scenic material and you know you really, really need it for your project but you just can't shake that little voice in your head that says 'Well gee willikers Mister, that's just a load of shredded foam they painted green - and by-golly thats just some sawdust dyed yellow.'  Yeah.  My inner monologue sounds like a 1950's TV kid.  Wanna make something of it?

I wanted to make something of it.  I wanted to make my own.  And golly gosh, gee... I did.

50c of cheapass gamer
 So armed with a discount store electric coffee grinder, some tubes of students acrylic and a bit of foam discarded from one of the many evicted backpackers furniture piles commonly found on any street curb in Bondi beach, I tackled my greatest challenge yet.  Make an unending supply of foliage material for the price of a single bag from my hobby store.  Coffee grinder included.

Step 1:  Rip up the foam into chunks.  Pop it in the blender and give it a few whizzes to get it into inch sized bits.

Step 2:  Take a screw lid pot, stuff in a little foam and add water.  Squeeze and stir in enough cheap craft paints to make about twenty citadel pots worth up.  Use the foam chunks to be your color guide- it will lighten up a tad, but not much.  Alternatively buy a can of house paint from the store- you can get their little computer to match a sample you already have.

Step 3:  Lay out a protective sheet of plastic in a warm, sunlit place.  Put some newspaper down on top of that.  Make sure there are no breezes or pets in your chosen location.

Step 4:  Stir in the foam chunks a handful at a time using an old kitchen utensil that has holes in it (a strainer is ideal).  Press the chunks against the sides to take out most of the paint without discoloring, then lift the batch onto the paper.  You want the paint to thickly coat the foam, so that it hardens when it sets.

Step 5:  Screw the paint lid down and store away for your next session.  Clean your tools, then go off and do something less boring instead.  Leave the foam for at least 24 hours to dry.  You can try using a hair dryer to speed up the process, but only if you want green paint and tiny bits of foam everywhere in your house.

Step 6: The foam should be crunchy dry now.  Grab that old grinder and pop the pieces back in for another whizz.  Now its crunchy, the blades will make a much finer job of shredding it up.  Make a few batches up of different sizes and mix them together for your final batch to add some natural variety.

Do not use the grinder for coffee now.  Well, hell, I am not going to stop you... its a free world after all (and if not free, certainly a lot cheaper world with this technique).  The coffee would taste like Starbucks if you did.  Always switch off a grinder before poking around inside it, even with a utensil, and never blame wargaming bloggers for dismemberment.


  1. Excellent, I tried this myself last year, minus the coffee grinder,this certaintly streamlines the process.