Monastery Diorama I – The Base


One of my hobbies besides building scale miniatures of all kinds is photography. Having moved to O scale recently, I decided that one of my first priorities would be to create a small diorama that could be used as a display base and as a background for photos.

Since I model the time around World War II, I decided to built a diorama set somewhere in northwestern Europe featuring the ruins of a monastery and a road for placing vehicles. After scouring the web for inspiration, I figured that casting building blocks in plaster would be a fun way to construct a structure, and ordered a couple of molds from Hirst Arts.

I recieved my first molds from Hirsts Arts a couple of weeks ago, and immediately started molding. My first molds were #70, Fieldstone Wall Mold and #75, Ruined Fieldstone Mold. These mold makes it possible to construct the ruined fieldstone tower, which I thought was a fitting place to start.

Some of the images features a US WWII soldier to show the size of the building, which comes from the Tamiya kit #32552, WWII U.S. Army infantry at rest in 1:48 scale. The soldier is 34 mm tall, making him just 1,63 m in real life including boots and helmet!


To get a feel for the plaster blocks and how to work with them, I started to build the staircase leading to the upper floor of the tower. It was actually very easy,  lots of fun and promising for the coming project.


I had a nice profiled base lying around, so I hoped the building would fit on that with a few modifications. However, it felt a bit cramped on the small base measuring 30 x 30 cm, especially because I wanted to use it as a display base for figures and vehicles.


So instead I bought a larger board, this time measuring 30 x 60 cm. To make the diorama less static, I decided to give the board rounded edges with my new jigsaw.

That went pretty easy, except of course that my entire apartment got covered in fine sawdust. Fortunately my girlfriend is away this week. 😉

After a bit of sanding and cleaning, the board looked nice and very stable. Since the casts are made from plaster, it’s very important with a base that doesn’t flex, which might destroy the building.


Finally I could dryfit the pieces again. To the left a road will give a good place to put vehicles for photography with a nice background. On the far left the ground will slope upwards to the road to make the viewe more dynamic.

I decided to change the composition of the building in order to maximise the angles for photography. The gateway to the right will probably be a good spot to place figures or take framed shots of vehicles on the road.

Near the wall on the far side of the staircase I imagine to place a large tree to dwarf the structure, which will be quite overgrown by lush vegetation.

Any ideas for improving the scene?


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