The trees are deadwood? Part 2

May 16, 2011

I wanted to make sure that the foliage would remain in place even when the tree was repeatedly handled – remember, these are trees for wargaming, not a static diorama…they are going to be picked up and put down repeatedly. Therefore, their construction needs to be much more sturdy than if they were being placed onto a model railway diorama where they would/should never get handled again.

I decided to give each tree a good spraying with Scenic Cement (Woodland Scenic’s own pre-mixed water-down PVA glue). I would hold the tree upside down, give the entire tree a good spraying and then put them aside to dry. By spraying them while they are upside down, I hoped the glue would run in and further anchor the foliage to it’s connecting points on the branches of the armatures where the Hob-e-tac was already holding it.

I sprayed them and then put them aside to dry, upside down (I did this outside in the garden shed, so that the glue dripping on the floor would be of no consequence):  (I’ve had to use some offcuts and tools to keep them in place). For a few minutes, everything seemed to be fine:  but then some clump-foliage detached itself, and a couple of pieces of foliage clusters did likewise:  so I had to hurriedly put all the trees on the table in thier normal position (right way up, base on the tabletop) and re-attach detached lumps of foliage where possible:  . I could feel the wetness of the foliage and some came loose when I touched it on a couple of armatures. All I could do was put all the trees aside and leave them for a few days to dry (since cold, wet weather had moved in, I gavethem longer than my usual 48 hours).

At first I thought a possible culprit was the cold, wet weather but deep in my heart I knew that was wrong, as I had made other trees a few years ago using the same techniques on wet days in the cold months in a heated room indoors and not had the same troubles (I had different troubles with them – the Hob-e-tac stayed tacky and it still is now, two years later, even though it had been sprayed with Scenic Cement and also Dullcote). There must be something that in the Scenic Cement that counteracts the Hob-e-tac, even though I’m not sure why that would be. I waited.

When I checked 48 hours later, the trees had all suffered. All had lost sizeable portions of thier foliage:      . To fix up their problems was going to use too much of my time; I thought I would have to go through the Hob-e-tac stage a second time and then a sprayed-on Scenic Cement stage a second time while praying that as little foliage as possible might fall off – and that my prayers may for nought, all to try to achieve a standard result (much less perfection!). The economics behind all this was beginning to speak up a bit more loudly, too. It’s true that I had won these as part of a job lot on eBay, but each armature was 50 cents and I had to buy foliage & the two different glues (in multiples to allow for wastage) seperately at retail cost. I had hoped that making these trees themselves would be straightforward, fun and rewarding thus compensating for the doillar value of my labour. Since they weren’t turning out to be straightforward, the economics of buying four pre-made trees for $20 at a model railway shop were starting to loudly assert themselves.

I decided to also ditch all these trees and start the whole process again, but with three major changes. The first was that I would use small pieces of foliage cluster as discussed in the previous post; the second was that I would not spray as heavily with the Scenic Cement and the third was that I would not invert the trees while spraying… these hopefully the Hob-e-tac would not be as affected, more foliage would stick and no repairs or reworking required.

I made three new trees. They looked great!  Smaller pieces of foliage cluster did reduce the weight load (at least visibly and when handling the tree) and also made their appearance a little more realistic than the first batch:   . The Hob-e-tac really held it well and only the tiniest (3-4 mm diametre) couple of pieces of foliage fell off while drying. I gave these trees at least 48 hours to fully dry/cure.

Yesterday, I gave them a coating of Scenic Cement whilst in their normal positions and trying to use less glue than last time. I immediately brought them inside after spraying to dry in my hobby room instead of leaving them in the shed. After 15 minutes, things were looking OK:  . After 30 minutes, foliage began to fall off, small pieces first:  and after ninety minutes larger ones had also begun to fall:  . As I write this, it’s 34 hours after the Scenic Cement went on and I want to give these three trees of experiment 2 a full 48 hours to fully dry. However, it’s not looking good for them and I think the remaining armatures that are as yet untouched will be done in a very primitive way that has been successful for me in the past – coat the branches in normal PVA (or what Woodland Scenics call Scenic Glue), stick on lichen, wait 48 hours and then seal everything with a spraying of Scenic Cement. The trees that I made in that fashion I’ve had for four years and haven’t needed any repairs since.

It’s disappointing to see all this hard work going to waste, but I’ve wanted to be fair to the processes and also experiment as much as possible. After all, if it had worked, I’d have some fantastic-looking trees, saved some money and had a fun and rewarding time doing so!

Tonight I have consulted my copy of Woodland Scenics’ Scenery Manual (revised 2001)  to see if I had, in fact, been doing something that I should not have (ie. spraying Scenic Cement on Hob-e-tac when they might advise that Hob-e-tac’d scenery should be left alone). In the middle of page 80, it recommends using Hob-e-tac to glue field grass onto the diorama. There are two sentences about standing backand critically assessing your effort and making any necessary changes, then it says to spray with Secenic Cement! It does not explicitly say to avoid areas where Hob-e-tac was used. The other two pages where Hob-e-tac is mentioned (pages 82 & 85) also say nothing about the incompatibility about these two products, so I don’t know why it thier processes aren’t working for me.

I’ll do one more post in the next couple of days about this and then finish with this set of techniques and these failed experiments.

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2 Responses to “The trees are deadwood? Part 2”

  1. Paul said

    Mate you are not having much luck with these trees. Time to have a beer I think.

    • Eastern Funker said

      I’m with you on that one…but I’m currently beerless in my house, only got gin and whiskey.

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