March 11, 2012

Upping My Tree Game




I recently picked up the book Modelling Trees by Gordon Gravett.  Thanks to Trevor Marshall and his blog for the heads up on this book.  The book is published in the UK and is available from several on-line sources there. However, I ordered it from International Hobbies in Auburn, CA and received it in a few days.  I could have possibly gotten it for a few less bucks from a UK source, but the delivery time was expected to be much longer. 

The book covers Gordon's techniques for making specific species trees, mostly from the UK. My brother Rob, an expert in Bonsai trees and the president of the Bonsai Clubs International, has been urging me to "up my game" in the tree modeling. Thus, I gave Gordon's techniques a try.

I previously used twisted stranded 10 gauge wire to make trees in N Scale. I taught the technique to my daughter and she helped me make an apple orchard for my N Scale Afton modules. I also previously described the Harvard Forest Museum's method of making trees. So I was familiar with the general idea of using twisted wire to make trees.  

Where Gordon's technique differs from what I was doing in the past is that he suggests using straight floral wire to to build up the tree structure. I was able to find a batch of 26 gauge, shiny silver wire at the local craft shop. I followed Gordon's techniques but modified it slightly.

I found it much easier to control the branching structure by starting with the straight wire compared to the twisted wire I was using.

Since I used shiny silver wire, I was able to solder the pieces together as I assembled the trees. That makes them quite strong and durable.

I use floral tape to help build the thicker trunks at the ground. The floral wire naturally tapers as you branch it out further up so no extra effort was needed for that.  I like Gordon's technique for making the roots. I soldered mine for strength.

I used artist Gesso mixed with black and brown acrylic paint and some fine sand to make the bark texturing paste.  One of two applications and the trunks looked quite realistic. I need to do a little work to simulate the bark texture better depending on the species I wish to model. 

In the wild woods in this area of Virginia we have a lot of Red and White Oak, Yellow Poplar (aka Tulip Trees), Red Maples, Sycamores, and lots of Southern Yellow Pine (see my earlier posts on them). See this link for more info on Virginia Trees. These are the types of trees I need to model. This first batch looks like maples to me. 

The oaks in my time of year would exhibit marcescent  leaves. Thus, they should have withered dried brown leaves on the limbs. I have simulated this using Heki dried leave material. I plan to add some to these new tress made with floral wire.


An O scale figure  and rule for comparison.


Using floral tape to build up the thicker truck at the base. Also note the "nebari" or roots.


The first batch of three trees awaiting paint and installation. This is just a temporary placement to keep them out of the way. This represents three nights work at 2 hours per night.


A young grove of trees near my house for prototype comparison. I am not sure what kind of trees they are.


Note the marcesent leaves on the oaks in the right  background.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Bernie:
    Looks great - and I'm glad you found the entry on my blog useful. Enjoy the book - I'm looking forward to building some willows.
    Cheers!
    - Trevor

    ReplyDelete