Friday, 25 October 2019

Colour pigments

These posts seem to be coming fast and furious and while I am wanting to get back to modelling and the layout in place ASAP, I have done a lot of rethinking with the layout and especially the scenery and other detail parts, one thing with any aspect of our lives is how easy we realise that we coulda - shoulda done things differently.

One of the early mistakes I made was just plugging away with just getting things going without thinking beyond the basics, which often came back to kick me, but thankfully I had some excellent people to provide advice in the CCWN group that I was/am part of since the move from Sydney. Even on the first incarnations of Essence I met at least 4 people who were part of the group and each gave advise and help in a big way, one being the late Sam Mangion who would pick you up on the small things, and explain why to do it a bit differently, miss Sam heaps a great bloke.

One of the things he helped with was the plans for Essence, along with ideas with benchwork, and his coming over to make the lift bridge for access to the old garage layout.  At that time I worked on sections of the layout that was primarily involved with getting the track down, and scenery along with associated aspects would come later.

I had tried different items for making scenery, especially the hills and other raised areas, that included ordinary plaster, casting plaster and a product from the U.S, which the name escapes me, in the end I was told to use Cornice cement and add some disinfectant and dishwashing liquid to the mix as the disinfectant helped prevent mould in the more humid area of the Central Coast, with the dishwashing liquid helping to delay the solid setting of the cornice cement.  I found both great additions especially the dishwashing liquid as I could come back to the structures up to 4 days later give the structures a light spray with wet water and was able to sculpture the rock and hill aspects of what had been done.

As I progressed I got a chastisement for not putting any colouring in the mix, why? says I should I need it?  Well plaster and of any kind has a habit of chipping, and being a bright white once you scenic the area with colours and static grasses or whatever else you used there always seemed to be that white spot somehow come up and make the work look terrible, a dab of brown paint sometimes worked but it just meant extra work.

Thus the advice was to add brickies mortar colour powder to the mix or what was called coloured Oxide or pigments.  On the areas where I used that method, it really made things look better, add more oxide and you got a variation to a scene, same with less but add enough to ensure it was not too light and near white of the plaster.

The move to Raworth and working on the layout rebirth, meant I needed to search out some of the oxides that I thought I had, well going through boxes here and there, all I could find was a small amount left of yellow Australian Builders Oxide, in a 500gram plastic container, that colour is pretty strength so I have enough of it for repairs &/or replacement of scenery. However, I could only find a very small amount of a light chocolate brown which I know will run out and not really the darker brown I find more like the soils found in much of NSW which I use for the ground base and other scenery areas..

No worries head over to Bunnings to buy another container of it as its not that expensive especially as they sell 250g and 500gr sizes. Search as I may, there was no sign of the containers, some checking with staff and I am led to a single shelf that has around 7 1kg plastic bags of    Avista Cement Oxide each pack was around $16.00 and more than enough to do what I wanted, I purchased a bag at what I thought was good enough, but certainly when I used it, I was disappointed as it was not what I wanted, then came the search for the Oz Builders product.  After some searching I found the local Az Builders cement products factory at nearby Thrornton heading over I was again disappointed as they said they no longer produce that product and had no idea who else did.

Search as I may, only the Avista brand could be found, so onto ebay and other search engines, and find it can be sourced from China. what a surprise.  I decided to buy a pack of the brown which is dark brown but being in U.S dollars and conversion rates, a 500g back cost around $23.00, I ordered a packet and it arrived within a week, the dark brown is spot on, for those interested in the product here is the store, they now have AU$ price and its free postage.

I am more than happy with the product, its a bit more expensive than the Avista product but much better colour choice.

To finish the saga, I thought I had checked every box where I had packed layout items and models in, searching for another item, and there starring up at me from the drawer in a desk was the Oz builders oxide container near full.   At least I wont need to buy any more.


  1. Hi Colin, have you tried acrylic paint as a tinting agent? I have used it in plaster and cornice cement with a fair bit of success. It is also very cheap using the ranges from the various discount stores.

    1. David, thanks for the reply, & yes I have used acrylic paints in various areas for colouring, more so in the first rendition of what was to be Essence, but what I found was that it did not quite provide the colour I was after.

      With the oxide powders, I am able to use them in the mix also to dry brush over the top of the mix to create a better dry look than with paints, that often still provide a sheen. I hope to have an update in the next couple of weeks that shows the first section of the rebuild.