Sunday 12 October 2014

Look out, its the copse

Freshwater will have more trees than any previous layout I have built, so I wanted to get some planted in time for the Farnham show (and 2mm Scale Association AGM). Previously I have used plastic tree armatures from Heki and Woodland Scenics. These start off as 2D trees, the branches of which need to be bent to produce a not very realistic 3D tree before attaching bits of foliage.

This time, I wanted to try new techniques. I had purchased a tree-making kit from Ceynix many years ago, and I have collected some old mains leads to source copper wire for soldering together. I would build one tree using each technique and decide which I liked best.

The soldered copper method involves stripping mains cable (multi-core) and then twisting, bending and forming branches. The result is then soldered together, requiring a big iron, clips or pegs, or asbestos fingers. I got as far a the second branch before I gave up.

The Ceynix method uses short lengths of florist's wire (a fine stiff wire with green plastic coating) bundled together and bound with florist's green sticky tape. Branches are formed with two or three wires bound together. Branches are then gradually bundled together until a complete tree is formed. The tree then needs to be coated with air drying clay. This is a long slow process. I used a wooden tea stirrer and a pot of water to aid the procedure. When dry, the tree is painted, a quick spray of grey primer and then thin washes of grey-brown shades. The fine twigs and branches are represented by what is called folinet. This is a fine black jumble of synthetic fibres which has to be teased out before gluing in place. I have been told that this is no longer manufactured, so an alternative solution will have to be found soon. To finish off, a spray of aerosol mounting glue is followed by sprinkling with fine foliage.

I found this method much better, and liked the results, and managed to complete 12 trees in time for the show.

No matter what method is used to make trees, a good book of tree pictures is essential to produce realistic trees. Would anyone build and paint a loco, coach, or even a wagon, just from memory? Getting the general shape, density of branches and colour tones right really brings a tree to life.

The first photo shows a sycamore tree, with the taped bundles of florist's wire formed into branches. The last few millimeters of each branch is a single strand of the florist's wire without tape. The oak tree in the background is the real thing,

 The next photo shows the coating of air drying clay on a couple of smaller trees.

And finally, the small copse of 12 trees planted on the layout. The sycamore is in the centre, with a coppiced silver birch to the left, and several small hazel bushes behind. Below the canopy of the main trees, some small alder saplings (single pieces of florist's wire with foliage added)  are poking up through the ground cover.

 So, 12 trees do not go very far on a rural layout. I will be building trees for many weeks to come.