Making Trees with Wire

Step Three : Making the Bark

Next step, you need to cover the metal frame. Try to cover ALL metal parts, to avoid your tree oxidizing later. Before you do this, make sure your tree skeleton looks right. Bend and shape the branches and roots till they "feel right".

Several materials can be used to cover the tree. Several brands of plaster can do the trick. I would not use expensive high quality products like "magic sculpt" or milliput. PU resin is not the best choice either, since it is too runny (and too expensive).
After trying several options, my choice goes to a product that is made to glue bathroom tiles. It is a powdery cement-like substance that is mixed with water, so you can make it as thin as you want and apply it with a paintbrush. I prefer it to plaster for two reasons : it contains a sticky substance that is meant to literally "glue" the tiles to the wall, so it sticks well to the tree frame and does not run off. This gluey aspect makes it a bit more flexible than plaster too (which may crack if you're not careful). Furthermore, it has a slightly sandy aspect, that gives your tree a natural look.

Making trees like this takes some experience. Even if your first tree does not look perfect, it will have taught you all you need to know to make a splendid second tree.

Step Four : Adding Twigs

Too add finer branches, you can also call in the help of Mother Nature. Several "brands" of shrubs and trees - or their roots - offer a nice selection of fine twig-like extensions that do just the trick. You can add these individually to the tree structure by using a drop of CA glue, or tie them to the branch with a stand of sewing thread. Twist the thread around the "branch" and the small twig(s) you want to add, then add a drop of glue. Finally, remove the surplus thread.

Instead of one piece of twig, you can tie a few of them together first. To do this, you place a few twigs next to each other, as if you would arrange a bouquet of flowers. When you like the result, add a drop of CA glue at the basis where they must be kept together, and wind a string of sewing-thread around that place. The drop of CA glue will make sure the thread stays fixed for the coming 348 years. Next, you cut away everything below the thread with a sharp hobby knife.

The resulting "bouquet" of twigs can now be added to the tree, at the place where you think this will look right. Keep repeating this process till the whole tree is done. This is a painstaking job that can take an hour - or more - but the end result is worth it !

Here's a few pictures of the same tree. I entered it in the dio contest. Regretfully, I did not take any pictures before the snow was added, but I think the pictures give a good idea of the final structure. Since this is a winter tree, no leaves were added : only branches and twigs.
You could also use the commercially marketed "moss" to replace these twigs, but I think they don't look convincing.

About the Author

About Jan (GeneralFailure)

I live in Belgium, Europe. Though modeling was big on my list of hobbies, I spent all my time refurbishing the home we bought a few years ago. I promised I'd be back some day. That day can't be far off, now.


Is Jan still a member here? I can't access his profile to see an email or send him a private message. Thanks Pat
MAR 19, 2009 - 09:46 AM
Belg1960 Short answer (from memory) is that Jan left a few years ago and used to drop in occasionally. I have used his technique and I think it makes fantastic trees - I used magic sculpt instead of grout - which made the tree more expensive but then my excuse is that I was getting a feel for the putty. I think there is a photo somewhere in my gallery. From memory I used copper telephone wire and the height of the tree is effected by how many twists and how "tight" they are, as well as the size of the initial loops. What you may be able to do with the one that you have started is to twist in some additional strands of wire - just overlap and twist for a couple of inches so it has some strength when covered with the trunk material. I did something similar to that when I came up short on a couple of branches. Brian
MAR 20, 2009 - 02:32 AM
Yep, the pics are gone, but step by step is very useful, I'll have to try this method. Thanks for sharing it. milvehfan
MAR 20, 2009 - 02:53 AM
There is a link at the top of the page to the whole how to with pictures of this thread. Pat
MAR 20, 2009 - 06:37 AM
Hi Jan, I must be the only unlucky person on this site, all I see are 2 boxes (1 inside the the other) with a red cross inside, no pix whatsoever, could you please, or someone help as this this tree making seems so good, but I'd like to view it. Thank you.
MAR 20, 2009 - 11:32 AM
Alec and anyone else here is the link to the article with pictures, LINK Pat
MAR 20, 2009 - 11:18 PM
On YouTube there's this kind of spacey guy who makes absolutely great diorama objects and has very good videos showing how he does it. He has a 7 or more part tree making video and he goes through several types of scratch builds based on dowels and twisted wire as well as from other materials. He shows how to build evergreens, palm trees, bushes, shrubs and more. He has dozens of videos on every conceivable thing you could ever want in a diorama or vignette. I believe he may be more into sword and sorcery fantasy type stuff, but everything he does is capable of military diorama use. I think he's really worth checking out. He goes by the name of the Kamloopian and I posted about him in another thread. I really think he's worth mentioning again. Here's a link to one of his tree making videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8U177-hOrM&feature=channel
MAR 21, 2009 - 06:16 AM
Belg 1960 thank you for that.
MAR 21, 2009 - 07:07 PM
Oh yes, I'm still very much alive and kicking. 4 years ago I shelved my modeling gear to thoroughly renovate the large house we hought, an old nunnery. Only two more rooms to go and all is done. I already refurbished a large attic room into a modelers's paradise / computer game room. More details to make you all drool about that later I hope to finish all work by x-mas and start modeling again about that time. The good news: you can all perfectly master without me. I see great things on this website. Look forward to joining again Uncle Jan
JUN 09, 2009 - 09:33 AM
Welcome back, Jan!
JUN 09, 2009 - 11:00 AM