Cellulose Insulation for Ground Foam Scenery?

westwayranger Dec 15, 2020

  1. westwayranger

    westwayranger New Member

    First post here...

    I was just at Home Depot and picked up a bag of enviro-cellulose insulation that looks to be recycled paper and wood products. Its fluffy, and the the thought occurred to me that this could be used for ground foam if it was dyed. Im going to give it a go with some Rit, but I was wondering if anyone has every used this product for ground foam. Ive search around to new end. It seems like a fairly decent idea, but I dont know if this stuff is going to get mucky with water or whatever.
  2. minesweeper

    minesweeper TrainBoard Member

    I saw a guy on YouTube mixing it with plaster.....
  3. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Don't cheat yourself out of the real fun of the hobby, doing realistic scenery. The RIT dye era is pretty much long past. They have learning kits you can get with everything needed to model a convincing scene. Rivers, mountains, tunnels, forests, it's all real fun with a learning kit. It's really fun, and less mess than re-inventing dyed cell-u-clay, and being stuck with tons of it.

    This catalog has all kinds of scenery material:
    Scenic Express Catalog #17
    Joe Lovett likes this.
  4. westwayranger

    westwayranger New Member

    Oh I recognize what you are saying, and further recognize that the RIT thing is beyond "old school!" Im just trying to be cheap to be honest, as I find the usual sources for foam ridiculously expensive. To be honest, I just came across the Scenic Express link from another forum, and will look at that more today. Thanks very much.

    But more particularly...if I put the cellulose-insulation stuff in water, are you suggesting its going to gum up like clay? My real application idea was to dye it and put it on some poly-fibre for a large forest area.
  5. westwayranger

    westwayranger New Member

    Wow. Dont I feel like the guy who didnt do his homework before the test!

    Thanks very much for point out Scenic Express. The prices there are not bad at all, and frankly the idea of dying a bunch of junk in the garage was not all that thrilling. One order for a few bucks from SE will probably get me through Christmas.
  6. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    If you are looking to save money, what's wrong with the old tried & true method of HARD SHELL scenery? Plaster is fairly inexpensive, buy a 50 lb bag for real savings. Use heavy paper towels, like the type found in store bathroom towel dispensers, [Wally-Worlds--Sam's Club, there are others] and cardboard strips. Can be a little sloppy to do but simple and EASY to do.
    Check out Model Railroader Magazine for various and assorted How-To articles.
  7. westwayranger

    westwayranger New Member

    Oh thats what I plan on doing. What I really meant was making ground-foam type stuff for trees and foliage. With the link above i think i have the solution...
  8. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    Miles Hale did a video about using cellulose insulation as a filler below the ground cover. I used it on my layout to fill areas that needed to be built up. I ran it through a small blender to fluff it up and mixed it with plaster of Paris and added water to make a goop. It worked pretty good to give ground contour. I painted it and added ground foam over the top. It worked out pretty good.

    Kurt Moose, BNSF FAN and Joe Lovett like this.
  9. westwayranger

    westwayranger New Member

    Update on this project...

    First, I think I might not have been clear on this. I was not thinking of using the cellulose for a "scultamold" or paper mâché substitute...I was really thinking of trying to make ground-foam type of material. So...I bought a bag, and have tried two procedures.

    1. I took some food dye and soaked a handful of it...i successfully made a big pile of goo. The thought then occurred to me that the same process with something like Rit might yield the same outcome.
    2. I took some watered down latex paint, roughly around 5-1 water-paint, took a handful, and dunked it. It soaked it up well, and the color was great...I didnt squeeze it out as much, so it has taken well over 12 hours to dry. The outcome is reasonably good, though. It looks like larger clumps of scenery foam at this stage. Im going to pass it through a blender to see if I can make smaller clumps.

    The damp clumps themselves can be gathered, funny enough, into bigger clumps for trees that actually look fairly good.

    I take the points everyone has made here...Scenic Express has some good priced foam and stuff, but given this stuff was $6 for a huge bunch of insulation, I can hardly pass this up. I am going to try using some acrylic paint next.
    traingeekboy likes this.
  10. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

    It *is* cheap, but afterall, it's only shredded newspaper with a fire retardant added (borax, I think).

    Sent from my moto g(7) play using Tapatalk
  11. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member


    1. if people didn't experiment we'd never get anything new. Imagine if no one had thought to grind up colored foam for scenery and just did the same old died green sawdust and lichen we used to have, because that is the current standard.

    2. Some of us like to make do with cheaper products because the hobby, to us, is about more then just spending money.

    I am curious to see what results may come of this material. One never knows.
  12. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Many years ago I posted a shot of a test I had done with 1 piece of Kato unitrack here on trainboard. I took some ballast and added it to my uni-track on a small piece of pink foam. It was crude and simplistic, yet it revealed possibility. Not long after that everyone on train board was ballasting their uni-track.

    Your scenery idea sounds like an interesting product to explore.

    What if you mixed in powdered pigment before you get it wet?

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