Fake Dirt

This is something that I learned in making gardens for my miniatures. Dirt isn’t always the best thing to use to represent dirt. Crazy, hunh? The thing with real dirt, though, is that it doesn’t stay in place well. And when making miniatures, it doesn’t even look like dirt. It looks like crap.

So what do I use for making dirt? Coffee grounds.

It sounds nuts, I know, but here’s what you do.

Make yourself a pot of coffee (or if you have a nifty Keurig machine, make yourself a cup of coffee). But wait! Don’t throw out the coffee grounds, for God’s sake. That’s a waste. What you want to do is lay out some paper towels on a cookie sheet or use a clean dry paper coffee filter if you prefer. Spread the used grounds out onto the paper in a thin layer and place the cookie tray someplace safe to dry for a few days. When the grounds and the paper towel beneath are completely dry, slide them carefully into a big ziploc bag. Shut the bag, tap it a few times to get the grounds off the paper towel. (Sometimes it sticks a little, so you may have to actually use your fingers to brush it off.)  Take the paper towel out and toss it. Voila. You have fake dirt.

The coffee stays a rich, dark color like moist dirt and once its dry, you won’t smell coffee. You can mix it with glue and fill tiny pots. You can layer glue over styrofoam, cardboard or wood and sprinkle the coffee grounds onto it (use your finger to lightly press it down into the glue) for larger areas. If you want, you can seal it with a thin layer of decoupage glue. Its great for all sorts of projects.

It’s great for kid’s school projects. We used it when my son needed to make a lighthouse base on styrofoam, and when he made a mouse house inside of a shoebox. And like I said, I’ve used it in my garden miniatures.

What else can you come up with to use it with?


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