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TOM: Creating rust from scouring pads

As many of you know, I’m a big proponent of looking at other modeling hobbies for inspiration and ideas. Here’s a good example:

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting longtime friends Bill and Mary Miller, a husband/wife team of Master Model Railroaders, a title earned through the National Model Railroad Association. Their, O-scale, narrow gauge layout which takes up an entire basement, faithfully depicts the Colorado & Southern RR and is loaded with award-winning models.

Over the years I’ve learned a great deal from both of them, and on this trip I was shown a clever use for Scotch-Brite scouring pads. I’ve used these household cleaning pads for shrubs on dioramas and dabbing paint onto models and buildings, but Bill and Mary also use them as masks for creating rust and dirt spots on some of their weathered models. The technique is too cool not to pass along.

The basic idea is to cut a lengthwise sliver from the pad with a hobby knife or scissors, lay the piece on a model and spray through the pad to create a mottled pattern of rust or dirt. The resulting pattern will depend on the thickness of the pad. The thicker the pad, the less paint will get through to the model.

To increase the paint flow even more, stretch the “pad sliver” to pull apart the fibers so there are more openings for the paint to pass through. As with any new technique, experiment on scrap pieces of plastic to sample how much paint will spray through the pad. You can further enhance the effect by blending a couple of different colors and/or adding vertical streaks to the rust dots that are created.


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