Saturday, September 4, 2010

15mm Birch Trees - Part One


A while back I picked up a few cheap decorative bamboo/wicker place mattes from the local Burlington Coat Factory. They were clearanced so I picked up two, one in black and one in brown. You can get them other places by the way and they can often be found in your local dollar shop. I had no solid idea at the time, but they seemed like the sort of thing that would prove useful for some terrain project or another. Well, I recently started one.

It occurred to me that if I cut the mats cross-wise into three roughly equal strips, I would have literally hundreds of slightly curved, but mostly straight "trunks" for something like bamboo or the narrower deciduous trees. As I was going to need some trees for an upcoming 15mm project, I decided to do some deciduous trees. I have always liked the look of trees like birch, alder, and aspen and these trees can be found pretty much the world over so they seemed a good place to start.

Initially I tried to cut the pieces of wicker into their final lengths and then painting them but the process proved fiddly and slow. I have decided that it is best to paint them while they are still tightly in rows (as shown above) and then touch them up after cutting. I used to a light grey called "Lichen Grey" craft paint and simply stippled it here and there, making sure to be as random as I could and trying not to stay in a row. I found that it helped to jump around a lot, going from one place in the row to another until they have that mottled barky look with the combination of dark patches across mostly grey. A finally touch up with some off white added a little more depth to the effect (see below).

Once the trunks were painted, cut and touched up, I had several pieces between 4-5" long. Before I could do anything with these, I had to prepare a base. I decided that the first few stands would be smaller, oblong bit to add accent to boards rather than larger area pieces, so I took some oddly shaped bits of stiff card, in this case leftover islands from the Pirates of the Spanish Maine, and then glued about eight or so of the painted trunks into place. I tried to make sure that they weren't all standing straight up and down and included one of the more bent and curvy trunks in there for a bit of texture. I surfaced the base with some spackling compound and added a few pieces of ballast stone for texture and then set it to the side to dry (see below).

In the next installmen, I'll get into detailing and such. Until then, go forth and find your place mats.



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