Buying Bases and Making Model Mountains / Platforms
Christmas Village Displays
Any Christmas village is charming, whether it is simply a line of lit houses along a bookshelf or windowsill, or a larger group displayed on a table base in a prominent position.
Introducing different heights and platforms means that you can transform your winter scene from a flat, fairly staid hamlet into a full-blown Alpine village with skiers, sledges and lots of snowfall. Mountains also have the very obvious advantage that you can cram more elements into a small space, making the display easier to view and preventing pieces from being hidden at the back.
There are countless different options that you can consider when planning your Christmas village mountains and display base, and many people opt for using some of the boxes used to store the buildings in. These are stacked on a solid table top at different heights and then the whole layout is covered in a white sheet (such as bed linen or garden fleece) or snow-like polyester fabric, to hide the boxes beneath and ultimately create a series of mountain-like platforms.
Care must be taken when positioning the sheeting, so that a naturalistic effect is created over the boxes rather than the appearance of everything just being draped in a folded sheet. Any areas that don't look especially good can be disguised by the judicious positioning of the odd tree or house. It is well worth making sure that you can't see any of the boxes through the sheeting, and so it may be necessary to use white beds sheets as the bottom layer, topped with the more visually appealing polyester sheeting (make sure that this is fire-retardant).
Planning Your Base, Mountains and Platforms
You can, of course, purchase ready made mountains from Christmas village retailers, such as My Village. These snow-covered platforms are often used in garden centre displays and although they look good when properly dressed and landscaped, they are usually nothing more than flimsy plastic.
You will soon find that these plastic mountains are just waiting to crack and split when moving them around and this can be prevented, to some extent, by applying a length of clear tape around the inside of the base.
Once the mountains and platforms are in place on your display base or table, it is essential to disguise their plastic appearance and this is not difficult to do. Let your artistic tendencies go a little wild here. Spray glue on sections of the mountainsides and sprinkle some fake snow in place, along with a dusting of green leaf flocking powder (available from model shops) to create the appearance of grass, moss and other plants.
Landscaping the Mountainsides
You can also add in a few small stones or pieces of brown cork scatter, before glueing some dried moss and a few green Christmas trees in place.
It may take a few attempts to get the overall effect that you intend, but it is worth persevering to camouflage the plastic and bring the mountains to life. And once the houses and buildings are in place, a further dusting of snow or a minimal spray with fake snow spray will complete your landscaping.
For smaller snowy mountains, platforms and hills, you could perhaps use shaped chicken wire covered in paper mache and then painted white. Far easier is expanding foam (from all DIY stores), which can be squirted onto a cardboard base, left to dry and then painted, before sprinkling with some snowflakes.
Expanding foam is also the ideal material for making caves with, although good ventilation is an important requirement initially. Once the foam has set, you can then insert a few cocktail sticks / toothpicks into the opening of the cave to form icicles, before painting everything a bright white colour.
Before and after photos of winter landscaping:
Photo showing a cave made with expanding foam, displayed here with model deer:
Photos of My Village mountain bases, sold at many large Christmas retailers and stockists of village display bases and accessories:
Photo of a Lemax mountain display platform: