Sunday, July 12, 2015

Quick and Cheap Terrain - Making Hay or What to Do When You Wear out the Welcome Mat

So far a couple of years now I have been patiently watching our front coconut fibre doormat unravel, snatching up bits and pieces for grass effects when basing my figures. But this spring the mother load arrived when my partner decided it was time for a new mat.
It sat in a bag in my studio for a few months, but finally I dived in, going on a hay-making marathon, first producing some wheat stooks, then hay piles, and finally rows of cut hay. I documented the last as it is very quick and easy to do, each row of cut hay taking only a minute or two. 

1. The Mat
Here it is in all its grubby decaying glory. I have seen a lot of people use these types of mats for wheat fields but not so much in this capacity.

2. The Fibres
Here is a bit of it unravelled.

3. Preparations and construction
Cut up the fibres into 1/4" lengths with a scissor. In the photo belowou can also see my trusty velcro adhesive strips, cut in about 5" lengths and then cut down the middle  to form strips about 1/4" X 5". I use these strips extensively (see my hedgerow tutorial) purchasing them at our local dollar sore. They are also generally available in fabric and sewing supply stores.
When the materials are ready it is a simple matter of pressing the strip into the cut fibres, getting alot of them stuck to it so that the strip is no longer visible, and then rolling it between the palms of your hands to create the "piled hay" effect. 
FYI I use exclusively the "eye" part of the strips, so they don't connect with each other in storage. I like the "hook" strips for other terrain uses, like road verges, as they grip the terrain cloth, but for these I think the "eye" half works better.
As I mentioned, these take a minute or two for each hay strip.

3. Hay rows in situ
Here are the finished hay rows, placed on a purchased mat of pressed moss (or lichen) that I picked up at a craft store.

I couldn't resist throwing in a few hay stacks (stryrofoam carved in a ball shape, spary-painted black and then covered in spray adhesive before rolling in fibres) and the wheat stooks (bundles of fibre wrapped with thread, glued in groups of three and four which I inserted with a small wire stand for stability before topping with glue and chamomile powder).

And as a bonus pic, here are some of the stooks and hay piles dressing up a Russian collective agricultural village for the playing of our upcoming Sowchos 79 scenario.


  1. Hi, Bill: I saw your post over @ TMP this AM. Nice creative modeling, Sir. These hay pieces stir up visions for me of both animals and humans hiding in the depths of the straw, and the adventures that proceed from this stuff..

  2. Thanks, Jay. I love it when I find stuff like this!