Scenery Question: Styrofoam Crumbs = Rocks/Talus/Boulders?

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Metro Red Line, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    I've been cutting up and slicing some blue foam lately, and while cleaning up, I decided to pick up the little leftover "crumb" pieces of foam and saved them in a plastic container.

    Can these little foam crumbs be used as rocks/talus/boulders? In N-scale they range from beachball-size to half the size of a human figure. Has anyone used foam pieces like that before? How do I paint/dye them into a rock color?
  2. DrGeologist

    DrGeologist TrainBoard Member

    Might be tricky to work with. Small styrofoam bits tend to pick up static charges and dance around and stick to your fingers as if they're possesed.

    Once painted, they might be better behaved, but if your talking about expanded polystyrene (EPS) the little balls may be a bit too perfect to be prototypical of any rocks.
  3. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    No, this is extruded styrofoam, the blue foam, not the round white foam balls.
    Good call on the static issue, but if I lightly mist them with water, I think they might not cling.

    Here's a pic of what I'm talking about:

  4. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

    I wouldn't recommend it. Coloring the individual pieces would be a problem; you'd have to dunk a batch and then separate the pieces. Airbrushing/spraying foam bits will be a problem. Or you'd have to truly carefully airbrush/spray the talus pile in place, making sure the result does not look like partially blue popcorn glued together. Plus any hard bump or scrape and you would be showing blue foam. The crumbs also often look fuzzy to me - you'd have to separate those out.

  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    Hmm. I was thinking about putting some of these in a cup of thinned Poly-S acrylic paint, thinking the foam bits would absorb the paint like a sponge. Blue foam is rather expensive where I live (my 8x2', 2" thick sheet was about $40+), so I thought this might be a good way to stretch my dollar!
  6. Tudor

    Tudor TrainBoard Member

    static electricity would be a bear..

    I have expressed this many times, for many scenery reasons. But, I am an advocate of kitty litter. I use kitty litter for balast, coal loads, and many other scenery reasons. It tales color very well and can be colored any way you want by just a simply watered down acrylic paint or ink. I use it in various sizes depending on what I use it for. Rock boulders can be used in any size. It makes very nice rock and bolder debri.
  7. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

    I did it on my old layout. I just glue them down first and spray painted them. Then I used a fine tipped brush to add highlights for dimension. I was happy with it, but I didn’t have a real big pile. I just spread them around at the base of a cliff to look like rocks that broke of the cliff. Since it was supposed to be stuff from the cliff I didn’t have to mask anything when spraying.

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