There are many ways of adding foliage to a diorama; real plants, paintbrush bristles, dried herbs, aquarium plants and etched brass have all been used. Now a new idea from Kamizukuri, Japan, who have come up with laser cut paper plants. When I first discovered these products on the web I was bemused by the phrase 'easy assembly', thatís the kind of phrase that modellers remember when their frustration level boils over and they fling the kit at the wall. It came back to me when Kevin Roberts of Tasca Modellismo Co., Ltd. sent me some foliage packs for review, and I decided to test whether the laser cut plants lived up to the promise of ďEasy Assembly.Ē
Whatís in the Packet?
The product came in a zip lock bag with a stapled on cardboard label. It contained one 155mm x 110mm sheet of laser cut paper plants plus an A4 sheet of instructions, printed on one side with black and white photographs and the text in Japanese, sandwiched inside a colour printed leaflet showing some of Kamizukuriís products. This leaflet has a cut out window showing the product inside. Fortunately for those modellers who canít read Japanese Tasca has included the instructions on their website. The laser cut sheet contains 24 weed like plants of four different sizes and 10 strands of Ivy.
I decided to see if the phrase Easy Assembly really applied and assembled the tools Tasca recommend that you use
- Water based paint or felt tip markers
- a sharp modelling knife
- pin tweezers (Which I donít have)
- PVA glue
- small paintbrushes
- a tooth pick
I began by following the instructions and brush painting the sheet in an assortment of greens and tans I used a piece of cartridge paper under the sheet but remember to keep lifting the laser cut sheet away or it will stick to what ever surface is behind it. Also remember to paint both sides. I then hung the sheet to dry thoroughly where it wouldnít stick to anything.
When dry I cut the plants away from the paper fret in the same way one would cut pieces from an etched brass fret using a brand new scalpel blade. Do not try to tear the plants out as the paper will tear in the wrong places. Unlike brass pieces you cannot file down the attachment points and it is almost impossible to cut them off given the nature of the material.
The instruction sheet shows a plant held in the palm of the hand and a toothpick rolled down it to curve the leaves. This method works quite well but to vary the plants I also used a modelling knife handle and a pencil. You are then supposed to hold the plant in the tweezers and roll it around to form the shape of the bunched stalks. As I donít have a pin tweezers I put a spot of PVA glue on the tip of a toothpick and rolled the paper plant around it. I closed it by applying another spot of glue to the outside edge.
I made up sixteen of the weed bunches and kept the remaining 8 on the paper fret. While I was taking the plants outside to photograph them a gust of wind blew some of them into a patch of real weeds and I lost some of them due to their perfect camouflage. I set the weeds aside to dry and brought out an old dio base with a ruined building on it to test the weeds and ivy on.
I carefully cut the ivy from the sheet and glued some of the strands to the bottom of the wall with a spot of PVA glue. I then attached the ivy to the wall with spots of glue so it would stand out in places. I let each attachment point dry before twisting the ivy in a different direction. I branched some of the strands out of others to add height.
The dio base was made up of a layer of plaster over expanded polystyrene foam and it was quite easy to punch holes in it to glue the weeds into. For this I again used PVA glue. I gave the surface beneath the weeds a coating of powdered pigments and some cut up sisal twine and then spot painted any attachment points on the plants and ivy that were showing white.
I like this product, especially the ivy. I think if this product were used in a focal point of a diorama it could really add authenticity and bring it to life. It can of course be used in conjunction with any of the other methods of making foliage. It definitely lived up to the promise of ďeasy to assembleĒ and Iíll definitely use it again. I can already see a dio with a Polish Firefly driving through a field of corn and sun flowers.