Ask Phil: Which hairspray do I need for scenic work?

19 November 2020
I've heard about using hairspray for scenery, but don't know what to buy. Can you help? Jonty, Lincoln

It might sound daft, but I use a lot of hairspray, just not on my head!

The stuff is basically a very fine spray glue. It's not that strong an adhesive, but for a lot of jobs on a model railway, it's perfect. 

When shopping, look for something marked "extra hold" and then buy the cheapest you can find. Extra hold means the glue is strong, and cheap should guarantee the perfume in it won't hang around very long. After all, we don't want the layout smelling all floral, do we? 

Scenically, I find hairspray perfect for adding leaves to trees. Even if I'm using a RTR tree, I like to add some of the same green scatters used on the layout as this blends all the colours together. Just spray a good coat over the branches and then sprinkle the scatter. Work over a newspaper so you can re-use any that falls off. 

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I like to spray static grass and sprinkle fine scatter over this to represent weeds and scruffy undergrowth. This adds texture to a hillside, which looks more natural. After all, nature isn't perfectly tidy. 

You can see hairspray in action in this video:

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