View single post by W C Greene
 Posted: Fri Feb 9th, 2018 04:13 am
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W C Greene

Joined: Fri May 4th, 2007
Location: Royse City, Texas USA
Posts: 8253
A few years ago, one of the local Freerail-ers-Bobby B, showed me his way of making prickly pear cactus. Bobby used some unusual (for then) hole punches that he bought from the "scrapbooking" area of the local Hobby Lobby and punched some green paper. He then used the punch-outs (a teardrop, a heart, and some other thing) and glued them together in a way that resembled the cactus. These were impressive since the RTR cactus (Plastruct, Woodland Scenics) were very costly and I was modeling an O scale narrow gauge line then. The punch-outs were pretty much HO or O scale size...a bit small for my 1:35 scale efforts.
I lost track of Bobby over the years but always remembered his cactus. Modeling the SW USA, cactus of this variety is seen almost everywhere and not just one plant here & there...LOTS of plants all over the place!
Recently, I was at a new Hobby Lobby with Pam & Barb (they love the place and secretly so do I) and I saw some punches that appeared to be larger than the others and they were discounted 40% to boot! So, I bought 3 different punches and some various green textured heavy paper (also on sale!). Here is a photo "show" on the cactus project:

The punches are very simple to use and I suppose that they will last through several layouts of desert and cactus building.

Here's what the punchings look like. Of particular note-the "baby footprints" which can be modified with scissors or sharp Exacto blades to resemble the cactus paddles. The "laurel leaves" parts can be cut apart and glued on to look like the "prickly pear" flowers or maybe new cactus growth on the large paddles (the large cactus leaves are sometimes called paddles).

The cactus plants are glued together with white glue (which has been sitting for a bit to become tackier and thicker) and are glued to small bits of styrofoam which have been carved up to look like the way the cactus plants tend to grow on the older, dead plants and appear to be on small "mounds". The "pears" are drops of the glue mixed with either red or maroon acrylic paint and look like the real things. You know, a wonderful jelly can be made from the "pears", it is very sweet and a deep maroon color. No, the tiny spikes or thorns are NOT in the jelly. That's another story-how "prickly pear jelly"is made...

And here is the finished product on the layout. As you can see, the plants are pretty much sized for my scale and would work in O scale or as large ones in S and HO.
Now, why would I want to slave over making cactus when all I would need to do is buy some already made and be done with it? Well, since the real things grow in large "clumps" with many "paddles", I would still need to glue a bunch of commercial products together and how much would you think these 3 clusters would cost if I used RTR cactus?
Besides, what else do I have to do these days but make fiddly cactus?
I still need to "plant" some field grass and other greenery close by but right now, I am very happy with how it is going.


It doesn't matter if you win or lose, its' how you rig the game.
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