Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pine Cone Trees




My wife, son, and I are in the habit of taking walks in the neighborhood on these nice spring evenings of late and last week the little "erbprinz" and I brought a bag along to collect pine cones along the way. There is a particularly prolific pine at the end of our street and the cones are shaped just right for a project that I have had in mind for a few years but never got around to...

I had the notion that pine cones have just the right shape and scale to make the armature for some credible wargaming trees. So today I set out to make some "prototype" pine cone trees.

First a pic of the materials I used to make the trees (click to enlarge the pics):


Pine cones (sized to the scale you want) , 2" (50mm) diameter metal "fender" washers from the hardware store (or DIY for you guys across the pond), 6x2 drywall screws (these are about 1-1/2" long), a bag of Woodland Scenics FC182 Light Green Clump Foliage, super glue (Cyanoacrylate) -my brand for this task is called "Gorilla Glue" and it has a thick consistency but sets immediately, the Bass Ale is optional but it does make the process more enjoyable.

I tried three different ways to make the trees so I'll refer to them as Mark I, II, and III. The MKI would be suitable for toy soldier/Old School games and don't use the flock at all. The MKII and III trees differ in whether to use the drywall screw trunk or not as will be explained below. So on to the trees:

STEP 1- THE BASE TRUNK STRUCTURE

I tried two different ways. The MK I and II used the drywall screw driven into the base of the pine cone as you see in the following pic. It is pretty to easy to drive the screw by hand but it's sometimes hard to drive it in straight because the core of the pine cone tends to send the point of the screw off to one side or the other. But when you get it in right it holds well and its a simple process to glue the flat head of the screw to the metal washer. The Mark III dispenses with the washer and uses a blob of quick set epoxy putty and the pine cone is simply stuck in to the blob and braced upright until dry.


drywall screw driven in...


screw head glued to fender washer...

MkII washer with epoxy blob...


pine cone set directly into blob...


Mk I and IIs ready for finishing..

STEP 2- FINISHING
Now for a really simple and surprisingly effective tree that would work for Old School or Toy Soldier battles the Mk I is simply given a coat of green spray paint and it's done!


a MkI pine cone tree..."kicking it Old School", with one of the few vintage Britians toy soldiers that I am the proud owner of...not enough to game with unfortunately.

The Mk II involves a slight bit more work but the outcome is surprising :
Dab a drop of super glue on the tips of the "leaves of the cone". Do a small section at a time and follow the glue quickly with bit of the Clump Foliage. The stuff sticks immediately and the process goes fast. (I tried this with PVA glue and it takes a bit to long to dry so the clumps tend to fall off before the glue dries... so super glue is the preferred method on this step)



glue drop to the tips...



add the clumps...work your way around and you're done!

On the Mk II since the screw is a bit too thin looking for a trunk, I added some epoxy putty to build up a trunk as you see here:


MkII with trunk and base texture added to be drybrushed a bit when dry...



Finished MKII

The MK III again, dispenses with the screw trunk and is finished the same way and the trunk is not really missed when it's all said and done....




Mk IIs and IIIs together with some skirmishing 28mm Perry Plastic French Voltigeurs.

4 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

A nice tutorial . . . too bad that the pine cones here are not a good shape.


-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

My first thought was "pine cone trees"? I can't imagine they'll look ok". But when I see the finished trees I have to admit I was wrong. They look better than ok, they look quite good in fact!

tidders said...

Simple and effective idea to make trees that way.

Like the french voltigeurs

-- Allan

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Excellent - I seem to remember reading an article years and years ago about making trees from pine cones, but yours look far far better than mine ever did - it must be the Bass... :o))