As of last night, the arena base is finished! I’m moderately pleased with it. I think it would look better if the dirt covered the whole base (which wasn’t possible due to fence measurement requirements) and if I’d found a way to keep the cool little hoofprints I made in the dirt (alas, they were destroyed by the fixative). But for anyone who would like to use nice, free dirt in a diorama, here’s what I did.
First, I marked off the area I wanted with blue tape. If you’re doing the whole top of a base, you would only need to tape off the sides. I put toothpicks in the fence post holes to make sure no glue or dirt would clog them.
Then I slathered the area in modge podge, making sure to cover the whole surface thoroughly.
Using a sifter, I gently shook fine dirt onto the modge podge base. The dirt should be thoroughly sifted before this step so you don’t end up with big clods which are out of scale. Cover the base in a thick layer of dirt to make sure you haven’t missed anywhere.
Dump off the excess dirt. I would probably be better to do this outside than on the dining room table like I did.
The last step is to fixative the dirt in place. Leave the blue tape on for this step to avoid fixing dirt or dust in the wrong place and to keep the rest of the diorama uniform. For fixative, you’ll want something stronger than the stuff you use on horses. In this case, being gentle will get you nowhere because the dirt won’t stick. I use hairspray- the cheapest, nastiest stuff I can get. It smells awesome but it sure does the job. Use several coats. I finished my base with a coat of Matte fixative over the top to reduce any glossiness from the hair spray.
Here is the finished base with the arena fence (above) and the dressage fence (below). Sorry for the bad late-night photos- but you get the idea. Thank you to Caryn Peck of Mountain Home Models for the interchangeable fence concept.
I couldn’t resist adding my dressage letter and flower pots.
Christine asked what the dressage fence is made of. Here’s a close up:
It’s pretty simple- the rectangles are just 1/4″ square dowels cut to size with a hole drilled in them and a toothpick in the bottom for a peg. The chain is white 2mm oval cable chain from Amazon. The chain is glued into the two end fence posts and just slides through the middle two.
It sure is nice to have that crossed off my list. In fact, my to do list for the show is getting delightfully short. I have a halter to make (that’s this weekend) and some odds and ends, but nothing else major until packing day. Hurrah!