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Friday, 5 May 2017

Project 17 - Embankment

Layers of polystyrene foam packaging was used to create the embankment behind the water tower. These were shaped with a hot wire cutter before fixing in place with PVA glue.

Wickes medium wood filler was spread over to fill cracks and holes in and around the polystyrene and to give a firm base upon which to grow grass and trees. The medium wood filler comes in a useful brown earth colour.

An imposing line of trees existed on the embankment  at Swanage around 1960. I used sprigs of dead Sedum to represent these. Sedum has a great texture that almost emulates leaves obviating the need for overlaying with flock or scatter. The 'leaves' were very lightly sprayed green and dabs of yellow and orange acrylic paint applied on top to give an early autumn colour.

The sprigs mostly have an undesirable flattish dome shape. For a free standing tree an array of sprigs need to be glued together to form the tree shape. This cannot be the solution for this installation where the trees and shrubs form a contiguous line and their branches touch the ground.

For the lower branches the sprigs were glued individually flat to the ground, as shown in the photo. Another layer was laid onto these and as the height increases individual sprigs planted vertically. It is quite a lengthy process as time must be given to carefully select suitable sprigs to fit the scene and to allow time for the glue to set as each group is placed.

I wanted the grass embankment to represent tall dry grass of early autumn. Whilst the top is a straw colour lower down near the ground should be green.

Old carpet underlay, being a jute/hair/wool/string mix, was used. First I cut a piece to fit and sprayed one side grass green. This side was PVA glued to the embankment and when dry pulled away to leave a hairy, straw colour surface with green base. Further plucking was done to get the desired effect. Next, the hairs were lifted and straightened by combing with a nail brush and finally long strands cut to size with scissors. The grass looks windswept in the photo. I may reposition the blades with the brush to be more vertical.

A few bare areas where the mat did not stick properly were covered in Woodland Scenics flock to give the impression of other plants.

This tranquil, rural scene of 1960 is very different today where the trees have been replaced by an upper coal yard, the area cluttered with mechanical plant and machinery and an austere water tower replaces the original.

To Part 16.

To Part 1

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