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a layer of foam later it was time for some magic mix for texture. It's easy to make.
get a large bowl and add some sharp sand till about half way, then add a cup of cheap powdered filler and mix together with a 50/50 mixture of water and PVA. You want the consistency of porridge it's that easy...
the mixture was simply poured onto the table and spread with an old paint brush and then left overnight to harden.
as I still wasn't 100% happy with the result I smoothed out the rougher area with another layer of the magic mix this time though I sieved beforehand the sharp sand to use purely the fine sand with no grit present. This did the trick and after another overnight drying spell it was ready for paint.
the base coat was a simple cheap option grey emulsion from B&Q, once dry it was a simple case of using some acrylic paints of lighter greys leading to white to dry brush the detail. Once again these could have been emulsion test pots to keep the cost down.