Works in Progress!
After much trial and error, and mostly the latter, I’ve gone back to my roots in sculpting the foam with hot wire tools rather than cutting and hacking at it with sharp objects and sanding blocks. My best work is still what I started with, so I’m going back to that for the shaping of the pieces. I’m also incorporating a lot of what I’ve learned from Mel, The Terrain Tutor’s YouTube Channel
Starting with a quick kidney bean outline to follow for a 2 inch hill I’ll be creating, I started with knife carving, and I did not like the results, nor all the dust that it produced.
At this point, I pretty much knew I was not going to be achieving the results I want by continuing to use the knife. I’ll maybe use a knife to cut out bulk shapes to get an initial concept blocked out, but even for that I have the hot wire knife. Tips or suggestions are encouraged if someone can show me how to better use bladed tools to make rock hills in foam. For now, I’m sticking with my Hot Wire Foam Factory tools.
Above you can see the knife-carved foam on the left and the hot wire knife sculpted foam on the right. The finished sculpt ends up being a much better shape for my eye, and will take paint, PVA, and sand/rocks/flocking without the need to make such a mess in creating it and doesn’t require me to break the seal of the foam.
I’ve learned that the foam is sealed on the outside, due to the way it’s produced, and I’ve noticed it also seals when I cut it with hot wire tools. The foam maintains it’s density when cut with the hot wire tools where when I sand and cut the surface with a knife, the foam expands on that side. It even created a noticeable warp as soon as I sanded the top.
Since figuring out how to maintain the seal, I realized I just needed to sand the other side, the bottom, and then sit a gallon of water on it for a while to flatten it back out.
So, while that’s on the back burner, flattening out. I dug out this old yellow LED light with battery pack and switch that I had from some old Christmas display. I think it would have gone in the top of a lighthouse. It has a nice fiery orange glow to it. I had been thinking I might use it to make a miniature camp fire. I also have these fire balls made by Reaper Miniatures, that are translucent red plastic.