Pleasing trees

Extra 80 East at St Williams photo Arborist-05_zpsffb19e14.jpg

Yesterday’s post was a teaser of sorts for this one. I’ve been working on the trees near the depot in St. Williams and I have – finally – built some that I really, really like.

I’ve been working for a while on making my own trees, following the techniques Gordon Gravett has written about in his excellent series of scenery books. As I’ve written before, the armatures are twisted from many, many lengths of florist wire, then covered with Flexible Modelling Paste from Liquitex.

I’ve been very happy with the armatures, but the canopy was eluding me. For the latest set of trees, I used Woodland Scenics Poly Fiber.

I tear off small pieces – very small – and stretch them out, a lot. I then give each one a quick shot of spray adhesive, pick it up with a pair of fine tweezers dedicated to the purpose (since the glue can get, well, gluey), and lay it in a tray of leaf material from the Selkirk Leaf Company.

While holding onto the Poly Fiber, I grab a fistful of leaf material and drop it on top of the Poly Fiber – positively bury it in leaves. I then pull the Poly Fiber out of the leaf pile, rap the tweezers sharply with my other hand to knock off lose leaf material, and add my new leafy fiber material to my armatures.

Small pieces are generally better than big ones, although in some places I used large pieces to bridge between branch ends.

I’m really happy with the effect. The trees look healthy with a canopy that’s dense yet significantly see-thru. In particular, I like how the foreground tree (next to the white house mock-up) works with the ones along the back of the layout to create a short tunnel effect between the station and the farm field to the right (west).

Extra 80 East at St Williams photo Aborist-06_zps62b8a603.jpg

 photo Aborist-10_zpsd73e1a67.jpg

M233 at St Williams photo Aborist-08_zps19a9d470.jpg

 photo Arborist-07_zpsbc614a83.jpg

Extra 80 East at St Williams photo Arborist-03_zpse829ad8b.jpg

More on this scene in my next post…

11 thoughts on “Pleasing trees

  1. A question from a person who lived most of his life where the trees didn’t form a tunnel. Did the smoke from the blast of the passing engines coat the branches of the trees with soot such as seen on bridges and tunnel portals?

    • No idea, Tom. It probably killed a few leaves. But it would also depend on how much traffic a line saw. For this line, that’s two trains per day – one in each direction. Anything too close to the “clearance gauge” would be cut away by the section crews. The stuff higher up? It might not suffer too much from a quick shot of heat…

  2. I really like the colour and texture of the foliage in the tree over the locomotive in your leading shot. I also think the colour you used on the wooden posts holding the wire fence along the edges of the right-of-way captures that bleached-out look quite nicely.

    • Thanks Hunter!
      The tree over the locomotive is one of the new ones – with Selkirk “dark green” leaf material over the Woodland Scenics poly fiber. The posts are bare wood (dowels), washed with Hunterline stain. I really like the Hunterline stains and have used them on a lot of things on the layout. The St. Williams depot, for example, wasn’t painted – but stained with red. The privacy fences are also stained with Hunterline’s magic formula…

    • Thanks Mike. I think so too.
      It’s what I had in mind for this part of the layout almost from the beginning and it’s shaping up as I’d hoped.

  3. Trevor,
    Thanks for documenting your tree folliage method, yours is the best I’ve seen. This is in my “scenery top techniques folder,” and I’ll definitely use it when I get to the tree-making stage.
    Thanks again,
    Phil Gliebe, Waynesville, Ohio

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