A very popular material for making your own model trees are SuperTrees from Scenic Express. SuperTrees are collected from a natural brush-like plant and they do a nice job of simulating real tree trunks and branches. When you purchase SuperTrees, they arrive in tight clumps. You need to go through the clumps and break apart the pieces until you’re happy with your final tree shapes.
There’s a recommended process of then soaking the branches in matte medium to soften as well as seal the natural material before adding the foliage flocking, and this process generally works well. I recently came across an older box of SuperTrees remnants I bought years ago, but due to the heat in my cottage, the SuperTrees were as dry as dust and incredibly brittle. I was ready to throw these out as they were too easily breaking apart in my hands but I thought I’d try a little tree experiment as a last resort.
I know wood veneer glycerin is used to flatten wood veneers as well as making them stronger, I figured I’d give it a shot on my SuperTrees. I bought a $4.00 bottle of glycerin from my local drugstore, mixed half the bottle (about 3 ounces) in with maybe 2 gallons of hot water, and then added the SuperTrees and let soak overnight.
This worked very well for rehydrating the trees and giving them good elasticity, now I needed to have them dry straight. Many of these trees didn’t get used years ago because they were just too curved, almost a 180 degree turn from trunk to tree top. Looking for a quick solution, I went with a primitive jig system. I had a sub-$10.00 tabletop from Ikea that I turned upside, drew a few guidelines on, and tacked in 3” finishing nails as the jigs. I then threaded the trees between the nails and let dry overnight.
I was surprised at how well this worked. The trees came out of the nail jigs and held their shape. As important, they’re not nearly as brittle as they were before due to their glycerin bath. I’ve now got about 30 or so extra trees thanks to glycerin and some finishing nails.
Scenic Express SuperTrees