More trees are being built. Several more former N-scale trees were planted in the far left, back corner of the layout. The large, looming tree on the left side of the photo is one of the first two S-scale trees I built. Since these are my first experiments, there is much room for improvement. Both were made from 12-inch long (64 scale feet), 3/8" (24 scale inch diameter) dowels that were hewn with a rough rasp to give them the bark texture. I then stained them with Minwax "Red Oak" and quickly wiped the stain off. I then brushed the famous india ink and alcohol mixture over the bark. After that dried, I dry-brushed white over the bark to make it pop out. The tree shown in this photo was then made from dried caspia branches (bought at Hobby Lobby), while the other tree (not show) had its branches made from "Sweet Huck" (also from Hobby Lobby, in the dried flowers section), which was then covered with poly fiber. Both were sprayed with spray adhesive and had several different colors of Woodland Scenics fine ground foam applied. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the tree and inserted a piece of stiff metal wire. This makes it possible to insert the tree into the scenery base. Since this is a large tree it will be in the foreground, and so for now I need to be able to remove it.
I made a handful of conifer trees using the method described by Model Railroad Hobbyist's editor and publisher Joe Fugate in the January 2011 supplemental video. I had never tried this method, and it seemed reasonably successful. More practice will improve these trees. For now, they are planted in the background, with hopefully some better-looking trees going in front of them in the near future.
I wanted to leave the layout "exposed" for about a year so that I could test the track, make any final adjustments to the Tortoises if need be, and have full access to the layout's wiring. Everything is working fine now, so I decided to cover the layout. The idea is that it may take quite some time, maybe years, before I get around to filling some open areas with structures. The thought of having to look at an "unfinished" layout that whole time wasn't appealing to me. I decided it was time to "develop some undeveloped land". I covered the exposed areas with strips of cardboard. Nothing fancy, just a mostly flat area, making sure to not interfere with the movement of the Tortoises and turnout throwbars. This photo shows the right-hand side of the layout.
I did the same thing on the left-hand side of the layout. This photo shows one layer of Woodland Scenics' plaster cloth applied over the cardboard webbing. Also shown in the photo is the start of the construction of the O'Brien Steel Construction Co. building (a kit).