What ways are there to replicate water in a diorama?

submitted by Shawn Caldwell "Scully1953"

There are several ways to accomplish this.
1. Use a product sold by Woodland Scenics called EZ Water, this material is sold in bags as pellets. It must be melted atop a stove using an old can or pot that you will use for this purpose only. It must be watched continually as you heat it to be certain that you don't burn it. If you notice it begin to form whisps of smoke reduce the heat or remove it from the heat source and it can be re-heated to liquify it at a later time. Be careful as it can cause quite a nasty burn if it gets on your skin!!!!
As it begins to melt, you should stir the pellets to get them to all liquify at the same time. Once it is in liquid form it can be added to whatever resevoir you have created for the water area. It should be added at a depth of no more than an 1/8-1/4 of an inch thickness at a time. Additional applications can be added to accomplish the illusion of depth. Once poured it can be made to look like flowing or moving water by blowing across the top with a drinking straw. If you have airbubbles in the surface these can be removed either by poking with a toothpick or a better technique would be using a small hobby torch while the material is still hot. the flame needs to be kept moving so as not to scorch the EZ Water, but this will get rid of any bubbles that you may have.It can also be carved using a chisel blade once it has cured.

2. Another product by the same company is called Realistic Water, this is already in liquid form and requires no heat, just add it to your resevoir, again at depths of 1/8 inch at a time. Once it has cured you can add additional layers to achieve the illusion of depth. Both these products are used to replicate clear water, which means that the base or bottom of your water area will need to be painted first.
If you don't require the water area to appear clear you can use a product sold in most craft and art supply stores called Modge-Podge. This is an almost Elmer's Glue type material which is a bit thicker but can be applied with a large brush or even a plastic spoon. Once you have a good layer of this material applied to your base it can be gently tapped with your fingertips or the back of the plastic spoon to cause the appearance of ripples. Once it dries which can be 24-48 hours, depending upon the thickness you have applied, it can be painted with acrylic paints and then sprayed with a coat of clear gloss spray. Waves and wakes can also be added by using a bead of paintable caulk. This is available at paint stores and most home improvement centers. Lay a bead across your water area remembering to keep in scale with your display and using your fingers pull the edge not facing your shoreline (if you are using a beach or shore incorporated in your dio design). This will give the effect of the waves rising from the water as they do in nature. Crests or splashes at the wave tops can be achieved by gently pulling up from the top of the caulk wave with a toothpick or wooden craft stick. Once they have cured you can paint them with white acrylic paint and blend them into the water areas. add as many waves as you feel are neccessary to get a realistic look remembering that you want to keep a natural look to your diorama, so it is always a good idea to use reference photos of the ocean either through books or accessing pics on the internet.