Saturday, 10 August 2013

Experiments with trees

A while back I tried to make trees from wire with foliage added from laser cut paper leaves from Japan... and they didn't look that hot sadly.  However, over the last little while I've seen trees made from something called Sea Foam... and I wondered what Sea Foam was.
Here's a horticultural description from Suttons, the seed people (Site link):

"A delicate-looking plant whose myriad tiny stems start off a soft green and rose and gradually turn a deep russet red as they mature in autumn. A perfect filler, it's also highly prized by model makers as it can be dried and used to simulate shrubs and trees! Height 30-35cm (12-14"). Sometimes known as tumbleweed, Telaxys produces masses of fine stems interwoven to form a foam-like display!"

So, I ordered a pack of Sea Foam trees by Gaugemaster from Amazon.co.uk (over £20... bit steep, I thought, but had to try them.)  They arrived a few days later (this morning to be exact) and I opened the large box with anticipation.  It was jammed full of fragile-looking dried plants that looked like trees just sitting there.
This is a typical example of one of the stems...


The curved appearance of the tree is unfortunately common to this box... and possibly to most boxes from what I've read lately.  I don't know how to deal with this yet, but I'm going to find out.  As you can see from the image below they have masses of fine 'branches', ideally suited to tree making...


So it was time to experiment.  I sprayed a stem with Treseme hair spray, and sprinkled on some Noche summer leaves...



I then gave the tree another spray to fix the leaves...



For a first go I'm more than happy, but there are some issues I need to address before I can start to add these to dioramas.  They are very brittle: I've read that soaking them in water and glycerine will keep them springy without being brittle, so might try that.  The curve... I don't know yet... that's a tricky one.
As they are they work better in small scales as medium to large size trees...


... but for 1/35 and 1/32 I may need to use a thicker section of branch from a dead plant to act as a trunk and add the Sea Foam to that as branches, much as Toho did when they made trees for the Kaiju films of the 1960s.
It's a learning curve.

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