Photo by Kevin Hampton
If you’re using Hydrocal as the base shell for scenery, there’s a quick way to cover a large area in a hurry. After putting down whatever you use to set the basic elevations for scenery, use Hydrocal soaked cloth instead of paper towels, newspaper or paper bags. Old cotton sheets, curtains or any other fairly soft, lightweight cloth will work. Tear the material into strips 4 to 6 inches wide and as long as the area you plan to cover. The cloth will absorb water very readily so mix the Hydrocal fairly thin. Hold the strip of cloth at one end and lower it into the mix. Let it get thoroughly saturated, then lift it out and put it in place on the layout. The cloth is very strong, so one layer of cloth is as strong as three or four layers using paper. I recently had a chance to try this out on a friend’s layout. We used strips about 6 inches wide and 4 feet long and it worked great. We covered 15 to 20 square feet of layout in less than thirty minutes. The pattern in the material was visible, but as the cloth started to dry we took a big paint brush and painted on a thicker mix of Hydrocal. The result was a strong shell that went down quickly.