Tree Making Techniques

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Duration: 6:20

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In this video you will learn how to create realistic looking trees. Such a mountainous layout like that on the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum requires a lot of trees. Allen Keller speaks with President Ray Mueser who is involved in the tree making on the layout. The preferred technique is making trees out of sedum, which is a flower with a shoot of white or pink flowers.

After the first frost, he cuts them off and dries them to build trees. The museum also uses a root of a plant from the desert which they turn upside down to make a wonderful tree. Regular puff balls are used for far away trees whose branches can’t be seen clearly.

Ray first demonstrates making a tree using the sedum plant. Once it is dried, the flower tips are cut off, leaving just the branches. The flowers that were cut off are kept because they are used for ground cover underneath the trees. The next step is to color the branches with isopropyl alcohol 70% and Winsor & Newton ink mixed together. The ratio is one teaspoon of india ink to an 8 ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol.

The tree is simply dipped into the rubbing alcohol solution, later flipped upside down and dipped again to get all sides of the plant. A piece of styrofoam is used for standing the tree up to work on it further. The museum uses Woodland Scenics poly fiber to build up the tree in a green color. Ray takes a bit of the polyfiber, spreads it out as thin as he can, and places it over the top of the tree. Next he sprays it with hairspray and sprinkles a green ground foam over the top, spraying again with the hair spray to set it down. For more tips for creating scenery, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.