How to use Sisal String as Long Grass by Barrie Lovell

Around 2000 Barrie Lovell published, on the Grunt! website, a tip for adding undergrowth to Crossfire / Incoming! bases. Barrie dyes sisal string and uses this as vegetation. Since Grunt! has disappeared I thought I’d republish the article here. Barrie had in mind Vietnam / Incoming! and World War 2 / Crossfire. But this is a good technique for the Portuguese Colonial War / Fogo Cruzado.

Just been browsing around the modelling section of the Grunt site and I noticed that when you [Mike Ruffle, editor of Grunt!] add the reeds and long grass to your models you paint them after they have been glued on. I thought that this method of painting the grass is a bit time consuming. I dye the string etc first which saves painting time later.

Here is how I do it:

  1. Buy some sisal string or multi-strand coarse rope (both are cheap and a metre length will keep you going for a couple of years).
  2. Twist the string or rope in the direction opposite to which it was twisted to loosen the strands.
  3. Place some green acrylic paint (artist’s stuff from the tube rather than GW paint which is not very colourfast) in a jam jar or similar. Add some yellow ochre and brown if desired.
  4. Cut the strands of string etc into lengths which will fit in the jar and place in the jar with the paint. Top up with water.
  5. Shake vigorously for a couple of minutes (put the top on the jar first!). The water and paint will mix and will stain the string. By adding different shades of green, yellow and brown some of the string will take on slightly different shades.
  6. Leave to soak for a couple of hours, to allow the pigment to penetrate the material.
  7. Drain off the paint and water mix and lay the string on a rack (I use an oven roasting rack) to dry – this may take a few hours.
Sisal String Grass by Barrie Lovell
Sisal String Grass by Barrie Lovell

To use the grass, roll the strands between the fingers to loosen them and to splay the ends slightly, cut to the desired length and glue onto the base. They will generally not require any painting (obviously you can highlight if desired) and can thus be placed a lot closer to the figures. On a lot of my WW2 figures I have the kneeling/prone figures hiding behind clumps of grass.

Hope this may be of use. Of course, being the hobby it is, you may prefer your method. Whatever!

All the best


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