How to Make a Palm Tree.
The follow up to last week’s post – “X” Marks The Spot”.
To make the palm tree I used the following items, you can of course use similar products:-
- 3 lengths of Florist wire, approximately 35cm in length
- Goose feathers, approximately 3 to 5cm in length and roughly 35 to 40 in number
- General purpose filler
- A very small length of course string
- Paints (various)
For the build I used the following tools:-
- Small hand vice
- Wire cutters
- A cocktail stick
- Paint brushes
Take two pieces of the 35cm Florist Wire, fold each in half and cut to make four equal lengths.
Take the four equal lengths of Florist Wire and place all four ends into the hand vice so that they are all tightly clamped together.
Using the 3rd piece of Florist wire start to wind it as tightly as you can around the four clamped pieces staring about 2cm up from the bottom. Ideally you want to keep the wire wound round closely following each turn but if there are small gaps it really doesn’t matter. Continue until you have run out of wire and then remove from the vice. You now have the main basis of the tree trunk.
Take the Milliput and make two largish balls and four small balls. Use one of the larger balls for the bottom of the tree trunk and one for the top. Push the four short lengths of wire which exist at the end of each end of the tree trunk through the Milliput as this will ensure it is all nicely fixed together. Taper the top ball a little to blend with the trunk and make a smooth joint, same for the bottom ball but flatten it a little as well to help create a base for later.
If the four lengths of wire are too long then use the wire clippers to shorten. You may wish to keep them long at the bottom anyway as this will help when it comes to fixing to a base. Personally I didn’t bother as I knew I would be adding base work around the tree which would be sufficient to hold it in place.
Before the Milliput dries use the point of the cocktail stick to make numerous holes in the top ball to allow for the feather palms to be inserted later. If you find you haven’t made enough (which is what happened to me!) you can easily drill more into the Milliput later.
Once the Milliput has dried mix some General purpose filler together with some water and PVA glue and coat the tree trunk. Try to avoid it being to thick, you want to be able to keep the shape created by the wire you wrapped around. Set aside to dry.
NOTE – If you want to shape the trunk, give it a slight bend for example, do this before applying the filler!
While the filler on the tree trunk is drying it’s time to sort and paint the feathers. You can of course do this at anytime.
I bought my feathers on Ebay, a pack of 50 which proved sufficient to make a single tree with some over. I graded the feathers into three piles of similar length, small, medium, large. The smallest would create the lower palms leaves, followed by the medium length ones with the longest feathers stuck on last as you work bottom up.
After a bit of experimenting I painted the leaves using Citadel Biel-Tan Green Shade. I found the wash worked well. I brushed the paint on starting at the center of the feather stroking outwards and painted both sides. You should find that the paint will bind bits of the feather together to create natural fronds. You could try airbrushing but as I don’t have one I cannot comment. My only concern might be that an airbrush won’t create the fronds but if anyone gives it a go I would be interested to know how it went.
When the tree trunk is dry take the four small Milliput balls and glue them around the top ball, these are coconuts!
Once the “coconuts” have dried it’s time to paint the entire trunk. I used thinned oil paints starting with Burnt Umber as the base and then dry brushed highlights of Yellow Ocre and White. You can of course use any paints you like.
As a final touch to the coconuts I chopped up some very small pieces of string and stuck them on to create the effect of the husk.
With everything painted and dry it’s now time to glue in the feather palms. Start with the smallest feathers at the bottom and work round first and then work up. I chose to stick the feathers in using superglue as it dries quickly, otherwise you will be there all day long!
Your tree should now be complete. Congratulations!
The final step is to base it which is of course down to the individual. I chose to keep mine simple, the figures in my vignette were what I wanted people to look at. A Milliput foundation held the completed tree in place. This was topped with sand and then painted. A sprinkling of chopped string was also added to the bottom of the tree.
Well that’s it folks. Any questions please let me know. I may well have left something out. If you do give it a go please let me know how you get on. This was my first tree but it won’t be my last.
In the meanwhile Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.