Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Making cheap wargames trees part 2

In the first part I made the bases from pennies and paper clips, then textured them with sand and stones. While waiting for them to dry I made a start on the trees.

Some of the best wargames trees I have seen are made from seafoam, basically a dried twig! So I started to look around for something similar, but free (the seafoam trees are £20 or more on ebay). I also wanted something more conifer, less deciduous. Luckily for me, I have a huge buddleia bush in my garden, like in this photo, only mine is about twelve foot tall. The flowers have gone over now and it gets pruned back every autumn, so I snipped off a few of the dead flower heads. They are reasonably robust, twiggy things.

Flower heads trimmed from the bush

Bundled together to be dried

As you can see from these two photos, I simply bundled them together using elastic bands and clothes pegs, these are now hung up in my garage drying. After a few days they will be ready to be turned into trees. I had some pre-trimmed from a couple of weeks ago and worked on them. When they dry they lose a bit of their substance and become a little bit more ragged, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I drilled holes in the stem, which are still quite soft though woody, to slide down on to the base "pin". To add foliage, I mixed up some pva glue, water and a touch of detergent in a shallow tray. The dried flower heads were dipped into this to give them a coating of the glue mix. Then I dipped the gluey twigs into some dark green flock, followed by a lighter green flock - one tone of flock looks a bit false. I then put the new leafy tree on to the base, left them overnight to fully dry.

The next task is to fix the flock on to the trees. For this I sprayed them with a hairspray, hopefully this will hold it in place. I have also read about spraying with diluted pva, but I went for the easier option. I have no idea if this will work, I can tell you better in a few months time after some gaming time, but I am treating them as disposable to an extent - if they fall to pieces/disintegrate, I can just rustle up some more in a jiffy. The total time to make the trees - trimming, drilling a hole up the trunk, dunking in glue and flock, hairspraying - is negligible, extended by drying times. It's about an hour to make up 15 to 20, enough for a few stands. And that's what I will be writing about in the next part, making a base for the individual trees.

EDIT (six months later): There's good news and there's bad news on these trees. The good news is that the hairspray technique work. The flock has stuck to the trees, so I can recommend this as a quick and easy way to stick foliage on to your terrain. Now that bad news. The vegetation is starting to crumble. It's too soft and does not last more than a few months. If you want a quick and temporary set of trees, it's fine, but they will start to fall apart after a few months. Ah well, the bases and the hairspray were sound ideas, but the cuttings need to be harder. I suspect old heather plants would yield some spectacular trees, anything that is quite tough would do. Happy arboreal hunting!

1 comment:

Paul Waechter said...

Nice work, they give you a very natural looking tree. Will be interesting to see how well they wear.

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