Friday, January 15, 2016
Three Iconic Southern California trees; Palm, Eucalyptus and Citrus and modeling any one of these presents a challenge even for the most seasoned micro botanist. I've been to a lot of layouts and you see some amazing ground work, structures and working signals, but the trees seem like an afterthought. I propose that they need as much attention and forethought as any industry might require...maybe more.
I've posted before about fabricating Palms and thanks to having a Laser at my side, making them is more an issue of finishing ground work and structures to figure out how many and what size I will need. I've made a few dozen, some given away to John Signor and Bruce Petty, others stashed away in the magic closet of "not finished yet" projects.
Eucalyptus trees are very distinctive and will require a good long weekend to figure out the best way to represent the twisted branches, multi colored bark and unique canopy's. But that headache is for another day.
Orange trees are pretty straight forward. These are revenue producing and as such are taken very good care of. You can't approach it like you were doing the edge of a forest, chaos will not work here. I built a small layout in N scale several years ago and needed a small orchard on one end of it and found wood beads at the local craft house that seemed to be the right size. I followed the technique that I will outline in this post and within a short afternoon, had more Orange trees then I needed. They came in handy as trades a few months later. :)
In HO scale I found your run of the mill Ping Pong balls seem to have the right size for a medium growth orchard. They are inexpensive and easy to get, plus they are light. Below is a shot of the materials needed to pull this off.
Ping Pong Balls
Gloss Hunter Green Spray Paint
Medium Green course turf
Woodland Scenics Oranges
2" Dry Wall Screws and a couple boards to drive them through
Super 77 Spray Adhesive
Clear Acrylic Flat Spray Paint
Short length medium green static grass and applicator.
Optional. Practice Tee's and brown spray paint if you want to have some sort of root system.
The following photo's show the process. Briefly, you drive the screws through some flat wood to make spray posts. Drill small holes in the bottom of the ping pong balls and screw them in place. I made up 4 sticks to keep things flowing. Be sure to wear gloves and work outside if you can...it will get real stinky, real quick. Once the balls are on the screws, give them a good coat of Hunter Green. Working with one stick at a time, respray with another coat of paint and then sprinkle the green turf on all sides. If you paint is wet you will find the turf holds just fine. I usually give it another coat of green and re-sprinkle to give the tree a bit more mass. Next I give the trees a dusting coat of Super 77 and add the Oranges. Set aside and work on the other sticks you have. By the time you get back to it things have begun to set up. I give the trees a coat of clear flat spray making sure to dust it at first. The orange coloring on the scale fruit is water base and will run if they are flooded with paint or water. A dusting coat keeps the colors intact. When this is done I give it one more light coat of Super 77 and then using the Static Grass applicator add a little material to fluff things up a bit. You don't need the applicator to do this frankly, I put it in a large shaker and sprinkled it over the trees and got the same results. Next, set aside and let dry...usually a day or so before applying them.