If you've ever seen a waterfall, you know that they're incredibly captivating. Some waterfalls are just a trickle of water, while larger falls such as Niagara can dump thousands of gallons per second over their edge. But did you know you can make yourself a model waterfall for a school, or even just as a fun craft to do at home?
How to Make a Model Waterfall
Unless you have a fancy pump system and plenty of time and energy to spare, you probably don't want to try to create your own working waterfall at home. However, that doesn't mean you can't create a waterless version that's nearly as convincing as the real thing!
Things You'll Need
- Flour or glue
- Warm water
- A flat piece of cardboard
- Non-toxic paint
- Blue and/or clear saran wrap or cling film
- Cotton balls
- Optional (moss, branches, etc.)
You'll first need a mountain or rock face for your waterfall to fall from. We'll begin by assembling a base for your mountain using paper mache. Take a flat piece of cardboard to use as your base. Crumple a few pieces of newspaper and place them in the center of your base. Don't worry, they don't need to look like a mountain just yet!
You can use either liquid craft glue or flour to create your paper mache. You'll want to use equal parts glue (or flour) and water. For example, you could use one cup of water and one cup of glue, or one cup of water and one cup of flour. Mix well.
Tear your extra newspaper into strips, dip them into the mixture and then layer them on top of your crumpled newspaper pieces. Assemble a few layers across the entire structure and let them dry until they are tacky but no longer wet. You can add additional crumpled newspaper chunks if necessary to add to the size or shape of your mountain. Continue adding layers of newspaper strips until the mountain is the desired shape.
You want to ensure that you have a semi-flat vertical surface for your waterfall to fall from. You should also place a dip at the top of your waterfall as well to hold your glue. Additionally, you should pool some strips at the base of your waterfall to form your lake. Once your mountain has dried fully, you can paint it brown, gray or shades of both as desired.
Place glue in the dip at the top of your waterfall and along the base of your waterfall. Pull a strip of saran wrap long enough to reach from the top to the base, and cut it so you have one long strip. Carefully secure the top of the strip into the glue at the top of the waterfall, and the bottom to the glue pooled around the base. Repeat this process until you have a full waterfall.
Use additional crinkled saran wrap to cover the pool at the base of your waterfall. Once you have assembled the waterfall you can add additional layers of clear saran wrap to give your waterfall a more authentic color and sheen.
Now you can add the final touches! Take some cotton balls and dab them with a bit of glue. Affix them to the base of your waterfall to give the water a frothing appearance. You can also test pulling the cotton balls apart to get the texture of the water just right.
You can also add bits of moss to the rockwork near the base of your waterfall or to create bushes around your waterfall. Finally, you can add small sticks to your diorama if you'd like to give the appearance of branches or logs that have washed downstream.
About the Author
Marina Somma is a freelance writer and animal trainer. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology & Policy from Monmouth University. Marina has worked with a number of publications involving animal science, behavior and training, including animals.net, SmallDogsAcademy and more.