What is Ground Foam, and can you make it?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MasonJar, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I have encountered all kinds of foam in my travels through the craft store, dollar store, train store, and more, but...

    What is ground foam? How does it start life before it gets ground (grinded??) Is it like couch cushions ground up? What would you use to dye it the right colour(s)?

    Any thoughts?


  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Thirtyfive years ago, I'd shred and grind foam rubber, and then color it with Ritt dye, and use it for scenery. That was more work than I feel like doing now, and besides Woodland Scenics has a full product line of colored, ground foam, not to mention all the other scenery products, and a new line of figures and details.
    If you want, though, you can get foam rubber at fabric stores,(or old couch cushions), and grind it yourself. I used a wire brush to shred the foam to start. The dye was mixed in a concentrate form, less water to the powder, the foam was imersed and soaked, then strained, and dried.
  3. dwyaneward

    dwyaneward New Member

  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Florists use a stiff sort of foam plastic, when they create flower arrangements. It is so soft that you can stick the stems of the flowers into it. I don't know, if there is a special name for that stuff. You surely find it in the form of bricks and/or balls in the flower & garden section of almost every supermarket. The good thing is that these chunks already have a greenish or brownish color.

    I used this material together with a coffee grinder, shredding pieces (about the size of a walnut) to finely ground 'leaves' in a few seconds. You can use it also for ground cover - the brownish versions simulate dried grass and herbs. It's probably also worth a try...

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Ron: the flower arranging stuff is called 'oasis'. My wife tells me that it is not going to be available much longer.
    You can probably get a cheap supply by helping clean up after a flower show; I don't think it's reused.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks again guys...

    Pete - thanks for the overview of the process.

    dwayne - great site! I've added it to my bookmarks.

    Ron - I thought about oasis, but since it absorbs water so readily, I thought it might be a problem...? Any comments?

    David - do you know why oasis will not be available any more?

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Have blender...

    Got a $10 blender on Monday. Will let you know how things work out using the method at the web site recommended by dwayne. (Thanks also thorshammer73 - I got your email).

  8. PRR_son

    PRR_son New Member

    I tryed this at home last week.

    It worked out well.

    But two things I have to mention is:

    1) Don't cut the foam chunks any bigger than the area the blades of blender covers. The foam does not seem to stir very well and if they are two large the blender heats up quickly.

    2) In my case the wife wanted the blender back so I added the foam and thinned paint to another Jar and manually shaked.
  9. jimnrose

    jimnrose Member

    Dwyane, thanks for posting the site. I'll be needing lots of foam shortly and I'll keep an eye out for an old blender plus foam blocks.
    Take care, Jim
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    My wife says that the oasis is not bio-degradable. She's buying up all she can while it's there. In White Rose it's labelled Dry Foam and Wet Foam. And she won't let me near the blender.
  11. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member


    it is a while since I used that Oasis material. As far as I remember, I had no problems with its water absorption. To clarify, here my technique:

    I shredded it in my coffe grinder WITHOUT water! (A few seconds only, or all you have is green dust! Just try, until you get the hang of it). Then I dipped the tree harness (made out of wire and painted gray-brown) into a mix of wetted water and white glue - a bit thicker than the 'soup' we use for ballasting. I tried to keep the tree trunk dry. And then I poured the oasis-'leaves' liberally over that harness, pushed into a block of styrofoam, and let dry. The oasis particles balled up into little clumps which looked quite convincing --> bunches of leaves.

    For ground cover I also poured the water-glue-mix into the ditch (I only used it there) and then added dry, shredded oasis. It formed also irregular clumps, looking quite good.

    After the glue had dried, I blew the surplus oasis stuff away, or I sucked it off with a vacuum cleaner - but be careful not to go too near: You might end up with no oasis at all! :mad: This IS a disadvantage: It doesn't stick too well to the basis. :(

  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I made it...

    Well, it has been a while since we've talked about this, but...

    On the weekend, I made some ground foam. I used dollar store sponges and dollar store paint, and it worked out pretty well. I found that the smaller the chunks you start with, the better it comes out. The blender has to work for quite a while to grind everything down to a reasonable size.

    The colouring is another story... The paint worked well enough, and I made it "wet" witha drop of dish soap (too much and you get a blender full of bubbles!).

    Anyway, the foam came out dark green - I used a green sponge, and black paint. I don't know if it will be possible to cover the other colours (it's a rainbow pack of sponges).

    I made a tree from it and it looks pretty good until you put it beside a Woodland Scenics ground foam tree!

    Any other suggestions or comments so far? Thanks for the input to date!


    EDIT: Here's a link to some pictures:

  13. thorshammer73

    thorshammer73 New Member

    a few notes

    A few notes about the ground foam.....use uncolored foam and then add green and black paint. The foam I used in my 'how to' was a foam used in bedding. This is the same stuff that is in seat cushins on couches and chairs. (its free when people throw old furniture out ;) )

    As for water, you should need more than a cup...and dont forget to drain it before you dry the foam, or it will take forever to dry.

    These trees can look close to other trees once you get the hang of it...I use them mostly for the masssive amount needed for the area in the appalacias that I model. I use some woodland scenic trees in the foreground. But once you get good at making foam..it should look as good as what you buy.

    For those that havent seen my website, I have added a picture from my 'Dante yard' area of my layout. All the trees you see use homemade foam.

    If you have any other questions or need help, email me at kpsub@hotmail.com place "foam" in the subject , line as I will treat those emails as a 911 call..:)

    Tony, CSX's KP Sub in HO Scale

    Attached Files:

Share This Page