Thursday, June 10, 2021

PVA water experiments


With a project involving water on the horizon, I fancied trying a different method to a commercial product or my usual yacht varnish - and I'd heard about employing PVA for the job. 

A few YouTube videos later, I decided to give it a go. Rather than pile in on a project for the page, I made a small test piece with a blob of wall filler on some cardboard. Once dry, and painted with emulsion, I applied a thin coat of 502 Wood Adhesive - my go-to glue of choice at the moment. 

It dried clear, as expected, so I put a thicker coat on. This started to clear and so, in a rush, another thick coat was slapped on. 

Two weeks later, it's not gone clear. A lesson has been learned. 

According to YouTube, PVA's differ and it looks like the one I have to hand needs to be put on in very thin coats if it's to remain clear. That's not very looming deadline-friendly, so I went with the varnish. It's smelly, but I know it works for me.

However, I've not acquired some clear PVA. Time for another test piece...


John Fletcher said...

I've been using clear PVA from The Works. I think it was £4 for a litre. I haven't tried making "water" with it yet, but it's been fine for general modelling purposes so far.

Unknown said...

I find the quickest, easiest and least messy method is to use a piece of picture glass painted on the underside and laid on the baseboard before adding the scenery on top around the edges. Only works for still water such as small ponds. It's easily cleaned, doesn't scratch a gives good reflections.

Phil Parker said...

John - I'm looking forward to playing with the clear PVA. I'll post results on here eventually.

Anon - Glass isn't a method I've used, but it's a good traditional method that works well.

Woz said...

G'day Gents,

How do you think Clear Silicone would go on top with appropriate underneath paintng for a stream or flowing creek ?

Cheers Woz

Colin said...

I mentioned before that I was a professional model-maker for a decade and we used textured acrylic sheet for water. The downside is it was one of the first things to go in with everything then built on top of it so you had to keep it clean during construction, but the upside is no meniscus round the edge and much less chance of disaster.
Something like this might work for you.

James Finister said...


You could always take the Thunderbird 1 launch approach, with acrylic sliding out of the way!

Seriously, building my little micro diorama I'm planning to slide the perspex in towards the end of construction

Colin said...

James, this was one of our more 'challenging' models. The image is a computer drawing but we built it nearly thirty years ago in Perspex and styrene. Can't recall the scale now but maybe 1:100 or 1:150.

Phil Parker said...

If there was a model that called for the Thunderbird 1 treatment, I think it's that one! Even Gerry Anderson didn't dream up something as amazing as that.

Colin said...

Hi Phil

We were only a small company based in Bridgnorth, but the architects, Godwin Austen Johnson, were based in the West Midlands so we were local and they brought us a lot of very interesting work. I've just been Googling and turns out that building was the one that 'made' them and they are now very big in the Middle-East. The huge triangular 'sails' are based on those of the Arab dhows which used to trade with Dubai. Along with the club-house we also modelled an enormous hotel which used the same sail motif, and the entire golf course. It's amazing what money can build on sand!