Most of us guys wander around craft stores with a glazed deer-in-the-headlights look on our faces. It’s not our normal environment. I often recommend craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby as a good place to find supplies, so I thought I’d share what I look for when wandering up and down the aisles of the artificial flower section.
Understanding that I’m not going to find scaled down precise replicas of full-sized vegetation, I keep my eyes open for general shapes, such as tall and spikey, rounded and the like. Color is not important because it can be easily changed. On a recent trip, this fern or evergreen like spray caught my eye.
Made with flocking material over a plastic armature, it’s useless as is but, sharp-eyed readers should see the same possibilities I saw; that each large clump resembles an evergreen tree. (Looks like a young white pine to me.)
The coloring is too gaudy but that’s easily fixed with a spray of something more appropriate. Another shortcoming is that they are flat and two dimensional only, so they wouldn’t work for anything but a simple background tree. I placed a couple on the layout for evaluation. At a mere three inches or so high, they will pass and should look even better with proper coloring. I should mention that I zoomed in with the camera. You would not see them this close in person.
The lesson to learn is to ignore the big clump that is the original spray and to see the smaller tree shapes in the individual branches. While this larger shape worked for trees, I also saw other uses closer to the foreground. Giving one these sections a thorough cutting up and better coloring, I see bushy weeds in addition to trees.
There are many things you could do with these, like small cedar saplings, or making taller weeds such as milkweed, thistles and so forth. You could also gather a bunch together to represent a bushier shrub. Again, the color needs fixing but the potential is good (below). For three bucks, this artificial frond will yield a lot of material.
My local Hobby Lobby has scaled back drastically on their selection of natural dried plant material like baby’s breath, caspia and others. In fact, about all they had on this trip was this dried grass seen below. The package only said it was floral material, no indication of what it actually is. (Oats?) As you see in the photo, I was after the long stems coming off the seed heads. Numerous short clippings can be made from these for tall grasses and weed material.
Seen below, in combination with the sisal twine grass, the stalks aren’t bad as is, but could be colored and textured for more variety in the landscape. A 7oz. package of this stuff was also three bucks and will yield a lot of weeds on a layout. You need to watch the scale of such growth and keep your weeds from getting too tall as I did. Of course, you can always mow them down a bit with scissors.
Again, the lesson is to keep an open mind. You won’t be handed a prepackaged solution labeled perfect weeds for quarter-inch scale model railroads. Have an idea of the general shapes you want to see and look for those while ignoring the rest. Study the first few photos at the beginning and you’ll get the idea. Merry Christmas everyone.