Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tree trials

Experiments with ways to create the teasel trees continue. The last time I made a batch of trees I had problems with finding a good strong adhesive to keep the flock stuck to the teasel. Spray adhesive was used, PVA was painted on, the things were even dunked in household latex paint, all to variable results. Mulling over the problem I decided to try expanding foam.
This stuff is for interior decorating and is used to fill cracks and gaps. Squirted into the crevice or cavity it expands to fill it within a few minutes. It is extremely sticky, sets quickly and reasonably hard. Note: Water kills the chemical reaction that causes the expansion, so keep the area dry when using this. I had bought a can to fill some gaps in our attic insulation, and tried it out on a teasel.

Squirting the stuff in lines up and down the teasel, I immediately rolled it on a flat dry surface until the spikes were entirely covered then rolled it again through dried tealeaves for the foliage. It was then left to one side to set. The results are not bad.

The foam filled the spaces between the spikes and hardened, rendering them less prickly. Once they're based and given a dose of yellow and red spray paint they'll look a treat.

Another experiment I'm trying is with the Woodland Scenics colored foam. I bought a pack of their Early Fall product years ago with this kind of project in mind. It survived years in storage and a house-move and I'm only now using it.

A note: If using teasels, bang the things repeatedly on a flat surface covered with newspaper or into an old Styrofoam tray like I did to get the seeds out. Do this for a few minutes, turning the teasel all the times. Do you think you have all the seeds out? Yes? Wrong. Do it again for another few minutes. Now do you think all the seeds are out? Yes? Wrong. Do it again. Okay, now the teasel's probably empty. Yes, there are that many seeds in the average thistle head.

If this stage is skipped, the seeds can germinate, resulting in odd, pale tendrils appearing out of your pristine model tree. This kind of thing might work well for games with a horror theme, but I'm not doing those...

The foam comes in a sheet form, is rather crumbly, but works when wrapped around a teasel. I applied PVA glue to the ends of the spikes and this should hold it all on without trouble.

The result looks... rather blah to be honest, but I think a judicious touch of a craft knife and red and yellow ink in places will spruce it up (pun not intended). More on the project later.


Michael Awdry said...

Mixed in with all the trees these will certainly add some variation.

A J said...

I think so, Michael. It'll give a table top wood a more natural look. At the moment the expanding foam method is giving the best result.


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