August 17, 2012

Sitting on Pines and Needles...

I recently ordered a copy of Volume 2 of Gordon Gravett's Tree Modeling series from International Hobbies in Auburn, CA. The proprietor says the book will ship to US customers in about 3 weeks.

I am eagerly awaiting this volume as accurately modeling the generic southern yellow pine has me stumped. The tree at the left was an attempt to use bumpy chenille to represent the pine needles. I did not like how it turned out. So I am curious to see what Gravett recommends.

My fall back position is to use the technique the artisans at the Fisher Museum did in the 1930s with etched pine needle clusters. I did an etch drawing for the pine needle clusters and have it ready to go to the etchers, but I am waiting for this book to see if another alternative is better.

If I go with etched needle clusters it will take a good amount of time and money to make a tree, but one could end up with a spectacular model. I think O scale is about as small as one could use the etch needles. The etch material will be 0.002 inches thick while the needles will be about 0.003-0.004 inches wide. That is over scale, but not by that much.

So I'm on pines and needles waiting for this book.


  1. Maybe you are PINING for the book.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your trees. Sounds better that the toilet brush versions.

  2. I too have a copy on order - from the publisher, Wild Swan in the UK. Looking forward to it as well.
    Just reading through Volume 1 and printing out templates of trees so I can start twisting wires.
    - Trevor (

  3. I plan a blog post later showing my modified Gravett technique. I have been using floral wire, but in the future, I plan to try copper wire, as it is easier to solder. The floral wire is a pain to solder.

    I saw some interesting Foxtail fern based evergreen model trees at marty's today. They might be worth exploring but not for a Southern Pine. The limb and needle structure of a Southern Pine is tricky.

    1. I too am modifying Gravett's techqniue. I'm using floral wire, but needed to find a substitute for his Artex/PVA "bark mix". I've had some good results so will post on my own blog when I have made a bit more progress. No soldering for my trees...

  4. I use black artist gesso with a bit of decorative sand (the kind you get at craft stores) mixed in for bark. I mix in some umber and sienna colors to lighten the gesso. The gesso idea came from the Fisher Museum tree makers.

  5. The best substitute for (eastern) Pines is Golden Rod just as it goes to seed. The seeds have small tufts of fibers that look like Pine needles.
    Unfortunately you can only get them for about 4 weeks in the late fall (Oct - Nov here in NC)
    If you are inderested in seeing some, email me,

    Mark Gugliotta