Friday, February 17, 2023

Stanstead - Fields of Gold

The title of this post is indeed recalling the old Sting's song Fields of Gold which my music teacher in first year of high school (which is first of middle school elsewhere in the Anglosphere) had chosen  for us to practice recorder. It didn't go well and I can recall we didn't share a natural bond is I can say so. I switched to the art class mid-year and stayed there until graduation... which was probably a better fit for me as I'm atrocious at playing any instruments.

However, the subject today isn't about music but rather planting grass on a layout. The common assertion is that you need a static grass applicator to get good results. There is this deep rooted belief that you lay a lot of glue and cover an area with static grass. Be it the same color or a blend, you do it carpet style. On the other hand, talented people, such as Luke Towan have popularized the idea you should create random patches of glue, use one mix on them, them redo the process again and again with other mixes and length. This is also basically how Gordon Gravett describes things too in his excellent scenery books published by White Swan in Great Britain. However, like with the recorder, it seems I'm not good at playing Fields of Gold with a static grass applicator. I never get that lush aspect seen in publications. But, since I'm not fighting against a stubborn music teacher, I know I have both time and other ways to reach the goal.

Years ago, I started applying grass with my fingers, pinching a bunch of fibers between my thumb and my index and dabbing them into random patches of glue. I would do that to create color accents around some features before carpeting the entire area later with the static grass applicator.

After many conversations with Chris Mears, I've soon ditched the static grass applicator and simply continued with the manual method. At first, it seemed counterproductive, but truth to be told, I was able to cover an entire field (let's say 4 feet by 4-6 inches) in about one hour. Since then, I've completely abandoned the static grass applicator for Stanstead and I'm glad I did.

Using my fingers, I can control every patches of colors just like an artist painting a landscape. There is more variation in density, length and colors. After a while, I go back and dump more material to build up texture. It may be small branches, rocks, ground foam or dead leaves. Anything goes on. So far, it's the only way I have found to recreate that beautiful mix of greens and straw colors you can find on late summer and autumn fields. It can also be used when gluing patches of basket liner mixed with static grass and any other scenery material to be honest.

Also, the method is much more relaxing, less messy and extremely enjoyable. You can work small patches as you see fit and come back later. You only have 15 minutes, then do some clumps. One hour and you have already two layers! It's is an additive process than leaves time and space to build up the scene gradually. Sure, it's not the 3-n-1 solution most would like to see in action, but I think it's scalable whatever the size of a layout you want to build.


  1. This looks so good and very real, Matthieu, exactly how I'd expect a pasture in late summer that hasn't seen rain for a while. Great job!

  2. With that GMD1, the carefully observed trackwork and now superbly muted palette of colour, it feels a very accomplished work. If you were here in the UK, I’d invite you to exhibit in a heart beat, so I could see this first hand.