Why fir trees?
I think it is fair to say that modelling in all its forms is a creative subject. The problem with creativity is it can be expensive and it can also be frustrating. The frustration coming from having an idea of what you want to create but having no idea of how to bring it to fruition. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had an idea but lacked a solution and sometimes had a solution – something you’ve wanted to try – but unable to think how best to do so. In this instance fir trees and how to make them became the solution to a couple of dioramas I wanted to do build but couldn’t get my head around how to make the relevant trees – until now!
The dioramas I had in mind both feature 28mm figures from the Last of the Mohicans. I had a clear idea of how I wanted them composed but was struggling with the scenic side of things. The first of these models is now complete and the second is not far behind. I will post details of the first one over the weekend but in the meanwhile I thought I would initially share with you the making of these trees.
I’m sure for many of you this is not something new. Little things please little minds and in this instance my little mind was impressed by the fact that this technique, as well as being a simple one, doesn’t even involve any glue!
I guess the best place to start is with an image of the end result, that way you can switch off now if you don’t like it or continue if you do. So, immediately below a couple of finished trees. These were my first trees. They’re not perfect but they were simple and affective and with a bit more practice I’m sure I can achieve better results.
So now onto how they are made. To begin with you will require a few basic tools (pliers or small hand vice, a cocktail stick or similar, scissors a metal comb although you might get away with a plastic one depending the string used), some coarse string, the type that can be thinned out, some wire, hair spray and some static grass.
Cut off lengths of string about three inches in length. The trees I made were for using with 28mm scale figures. Depending the scale you use you may wish to cut shorter or longer lengths. Having said that trees come in all sizes through their development so I guess you go with what you think looks best for you. How many lengths you cut will be determined by how tall you want your tree to be. I cut about 15 to 20 lengths in this instance.
Using the metal comb separate the fibres of the string for each cut piece (see to the left of the image above).
Cut a length of wire, I used wire with a thickness of 0.5mm cut to a length of approximately 14 inches. Fold the wire in half and place the two ends into the vice, I used a small hand vice but you could use pliers or something similar.
Take the combed lengths of string and spread them out between the looped wire.
Take the cocktail stick or similar and place it at the looped end of the wire (see below).
Holding the cocktail stick in one hand and the hand vice in the other start turning and rotating the hand vice and don’t stop until the wire loop where the cocktail stick is has become tight to the cocktail stick (see above).
Remove the cocktail stick and cut off the small looped bit of wire.
Using the scissors cut the string to shape the tree. Fir trees are essentially triangular so you need to cut the string so that the top of the tree is narrow/pointed at the top and wider at the bottom. If you want to thin out from top to bottom to get more of a Christmas tree shape between the branches you can.
Step Nine (Optional)
Depending on the colour string used you may wish to paint it. The string I used was a great colour so I didn’t bother.
Spray the tree with hair spray, any cheap strong hold spray will do, you could use sprayed PVA too if you wanted to I suspect. Then sprinkle the static grass on. You may need to do a few applications until you are happy with what you have done. I would also suggest that you turn the tree upside down and do the underside first. I also used a darker static grass for the underneath and a lighter one on the up side.
Step Eleven (Optional)
If you want to have a lot of bark showing then strip back the string at the lower end of the tree and apply some filler or Milliput to create a tree trunk. Alternatively you can just have the tree branches closer to the ground.
Hopefully this all made sense!
As I said earlier, these were my first trees so certainly room for improvement.