Model Rail (UK) - - Know Your Stuff - Mike Hatch, by e-mail

Do you have any tips for cre­at­ing re­al­is­tic piles of fallen leaves?

Ge­orge says: Ready-made miniature leaves are avail­able from a num­ber of sources, ei­ther as loose scat­ter ma­te­rial or formed into bunches to por­tray shrubs or tree fo­liage that is dy­ing back. How­ever, we can also cre­ate our own scale leaves, thanks to a wide range of punch tools from Green Stuff World. These natty lit­tle tools are of­fered in a va­ri­ety of sizes and leaf pat­terns, ei­ther for a sin­gle type of tree leaf or mul­ti­ple pat­terns. The leaves are sim­ply punched from any thin ma­te­rial, such as coloured pa­per or, for un­par­al­leled au­then­tic­ity, from real leaves, for­aged dur­ing late sum­mer or early au­tumn – ideally just when they be­gin to turn a paler shade. They can then be care­fully dried out, which will also pre­serve their colours. Aimed pre­dom­i­nantly at mil­i­tary and scenic mod­ellers, most of the punches are suited to larger scales, es­pe­cially ‘O’ and ‘Gauge 1’. How­ever, there are a num­ber of smaller tools that can be em­ployed on ‘OO’ lay­outs, with the punches form­ing leaves only a few mil­lime­tres in length. Once bun­dled up into piles, the ex­act scale of the leaves is dif­fi­cult to judge, mak­ing choice of tools more a mat­ter of per­sonal taste. When choos­ing the leaves (or other ma­te­ri­als), punch­ing out a range of dif­fer­ent shades, shapes and sizes is im­por­tant. An overly uni­form ap­pear­ance will ap­pear un­re­al­is­tic. While the dry­ing out of the nat­u­ral ma­te­rial takes time, the punches them­selves are in­cred­i­bly easy to use and of­fer a highly eco­nom­i­cal so­lu­tion, par­tic­u­larly if you in­tend to cre­ate nu­mer­ous lay­outs or dio­ra­mas in the fu­ture.

Miniature leaf punches are avail­able in a wide va­ri­ety of shapes and sizes, mak­ing the re-cre­ation of re­cently fallen leaves a sim­ple task.

I pruned var­i­ous leaves from the gar­den on a dry, late Au­gust day. They were laid flat be­tween sheets of kitchen tis­sue and then pressed in­side a large hard­back book, with plenty of weight placed on top.

The leaves look ul­tra-au­then­tic, es­pe­cially when there are mul­ti­ple shades of nat­u­ral ma­te­rial. Hold­ing the punches over a small con­tainer makes gath­er­ing the tiny leaves much eas­ier.

Af­ter press­ing the leaves within the books for a few weeks, in a warm en­vi­ron­ment, they emerged flat and dry, ready for punch­ing with the spe­cial tools. A va­ri­ety of shapes, sizes and colours were cre­ated.

The leaves can be piled up and se­cured with a thin, pen­e­trat­ing ad­he­sive (such as Bal­last Bond from Deluxe Ma­te­ri­als), ap­plied via a pin­point ap­pli­ca­tor. The glue dries clear, with­out dis­colour­ing the leaves.

Above: Green Stuff World of­fers a range of leaf punch tools, as well as ready-made leaf lit­ter.

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