Monastery Diorama II – A Stable Foundation

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After preparing the wooden base for the diorama, I started working on making the basic groundwork.

I’ve built a number of other dioramas before, mostly in HO scale and I found that expanded polystyrene works great for adding height to the base. It’s cheap, sometimes even free, easy to work with and lightweight. The only disadvantage of the material is the mess when you work with it, but I think that’s worth it. 🙂
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After buying new bookshelves in IKEA recently, I had lots of great pieces of thin boards of expanded polystyrene, and I used them to put two different layers on the base. I also carved an incline on the left side of the base.

After dryfitting the pieces again, I began to build up the lower parts of the structure.

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I also placed a small ruined wall on the far side from the road, thus indicating that the ruin might have been much larger previously and implying that the road had actually been cut through the ruins.

Before gluing the plaster pieces, I made sure to press them down into the polystyrene, so they wouldn’t appear to “float” on the surface.

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Then I mixed plaster and water to a much more thickly substance, than what I would normally use to cast the pieces from the Hirst Art molds.

I poured several layers of the plaster all over the base, covering the polystyrene and making the walls and floor tiles appear to be nestled deep.

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Then I spread the plaster into the more narrow parts and continued to work on it until the plaster was almost completely set.

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Here’s the area around the tower completed. I like how the plaster mix makes the tower appear heavy and not “float” on the surface of the diorama. I also poured a floor in the tower, which I plan to cover with dirt and weeds later on.

The two layers of polystyrene creates some nice differences in height, which I find very realistic.

The blocks from the Hirst Arts molds are a pleasure to work with. They are easy to glue together and at the same time have a great solid and heavy feel, making it feel almost like working in stone. 🙂

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Here’s the result after all the plaster groundwork completed. Even though it looks like a mess, it’s important to try to envision how it will look when the ground is covered with more material and lots of grass, bushes and some trees.

What do you think?

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