Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The branches are made of a mixture of materials seen upper left. Got a portion of it painted in flexible cement today, see right. Bottom left is a close up of a dried branch's bark-like texture.

Today I painted on one quart of pre-mixed FlexAll (Limestone, Ethylene glycol, Acrylic Copolymer) onto a selection of tree branches. It looks so much better than I thought it would. I thought I'd have to apply several layers and perhaps even press a real bark texture cast into the wet compound to get a naturalistic bark look. But it seems that this flexible cement-like material dries with just the right amount of grain in its surface all by itself.

Out of the tub, it's a sticky, butter-cream frosting consistency. I painted it on all the surfaces of a bit of the tree's branches, which are composed of a mixture of real twigs and branches (picked up during local wind storms), reinforced at the joins with masking tape and papier mache, plastic tubing, chicken wire, etc. By covering the whole thing with this unifying material the idea was to have the tree look as if it grew as it is, without being able to notice where the joins were created or what parts aren't natural. It already looks exactly as I would wish, and the illusion will increase further when layers of bark color are added, as well as the hundreds of leaves! I dragged the brush through the layer after about 30 minutes to get a kind of raked result. Who knew that was how to get the texture I wanted? Maybe this is how real trees are made?

I have another quart here and plan to buy about 3 more for Friday (right hand packed in ice from today's work) to finish this stage of the tree. Very exciting and fun for me to watch this action stage actually happen!


  1. Chris7:37 PM

    Shel your tree is looking Fantastic! =) Rennas house is coming along superbly. I bet she is getting excited to have such a wonderful characterful home to live in :)

  2. Wonderfull Details!!!


  3. Beautiful, Shelley! Nice job, you keep rockin', y'hear? :)

  4. Absalutely Wonderful, Textural, Realistic and Beautiful again!

    Where do you get limestone from?

  5. Thanks, animation dudes! You all keep rockin' your stuff too, k?!

    Ben Ben, I didn't have to powder crush my own limestone (yay!) I could buy a pre-mixed tub of a product they sell here called, "FlexAll" by a company called "Custom Building Products" ( is made with the ingredients I mentioned, mixed already with water, and its ready to apply, like frosting a cake.

    In the US, these types of compounds are sold in home improvement stores like Home Depot or Orchard Hardware for patching holes in walls, etc. But I bet almost any good hardware store would sell it.

    Normal Plaster of Paris would work for the tree too, it's just that it wouldn't flex when the branches got bumped, so they would just snap right off all the time. This way, they seem stronger and a lot more durable, that's all.


  6. You've got me starting to worry about the weight of the tree... Remind me: didn't you have plans to move this set and show it in a gallery at some point?

  7. yep, I've been queried about how heavy the set is becoming too, Sven.

    My mental dismissal of the issue is to imagine myself taking a small circular saw to the tree, cutting it into large chunks, lopping off big finished branch sections, that could be reassambled later in any new location needed by a dowel and hole type system.

    Lemme go try to lift it... I can still tilt it. Yes, it all is heavier than my original Styrofoam idea, but it sure is nice and durable! (for more Halfland films, yay.)


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