In this Model Railroad Academy video, modeler Martin Tärnrot will demonstrate how to make model trees, specifically aspen trees. Aspen trees can be trickier to model because of their unique pattern and colors. Martin makes the trunk and branches from 0.03-inch-thick steel wire. He starts the process by cutting 12 pieces of wire at six inches in length. The trunk consists of three or four wires that are twisted together at the base and split at the top to begin forming the branches.
For the branches, he bends multiple wires into a V shape, which is then twisted in with the wires coming from the trunk. Making enough splits on each branch is important for a realistic look as more branches will help ensure that the foliage is not too dense. Three splits on each branch is a rule of thumb that Martin likes to follow for this. He ends up with three different sections that correspond to the different sections of the tree: lower, middle, and top. He connects them by twisting them all together at the trunk.
To begin on the foliage, Martin first trims the branches to get the right shape, following the prototype as a guide. He then bends the edges of the branches slightly downwards to emulate the hanging look of the foliage. With Elmer’s Construction PVA glue, he paints the trunk and branches before he applies grout in a dark gray color. The grout helps the glue from running and adds to the texture of the bark. He adds more layers where they are needed.
To see how Martin adds in the aspen’s foliage, watch the full video. Browse the Model Railroad Academy archives to learn how to make model oak trees and how to make a tree-holding tool.