How to make trees for nativity scenes, models and dioramas.


Christmas is coming and although it is too early, those who want to make their own nativity scenes are preparing stuff. One of the things that worth the effort (but takes a little while) are trees.

As already told, we have been dedicated to making models for a long time, and for decorating, the trees generally used were purchased at any hobby shop, but most of the time they were not typical trees here..

In this case we will make some olives and some ilex trees. The process is the same, basically the difference is in the type of “green” and the treetop form.

To begin we cut a piece of wire which has many fine threads. Particularly I prefer keeping a piece of the cover to help me to keep them together while doing so. We just have to go on twisting the wires themselves. We make it easier by helping with pliers.

When finished shape the trunk and branches we decide whether to leave a pointed end to stick it somewhere, or make a shape of roots to hold it up. I usually opt for the latter, but is’t a matter of what interests us at all times.
In the case of the olive trees, for example we know they have a trunk with knots, and those who are very old are very twisted, the cup is lower and less compact. The round trunk oaks have a more dense and uniform top and a darker color.
Here is the structure of some olive trees:

In the next picture we see two types of synthetic vegetation. The dark is from a hobby shop, it may be harder to find and more expensive. The moss appears at any store that sells things for Christmas you will find it easely and cheaply. At this time in any place, for the rest of the year maybe you have to search at specialized shops.

Once we have the structure we can cover the trunk with clay (if we have no interest in it last forever) with some kind of putty or wood pulp. (In my case I have immersed them in polyurethane resin, but it is something that is not usually at home). Let the branches conveniently separate to receive the cup and uncovered in order to remain flexible and allow us to model it at the end.

To the top we take the adecuate amount of foliage and paste it to the wires we have left aside for it. Everyone usually use glue he likes. Many people do it with white glue, but it takes time to dry, I prefer to do it with superglue (cyanoacrylate) although I stick a little my fingers.

As the top wires are separated and remain flaxibles we can model the shape until we like how it has been, and if we do several trees, the important thing is that they are all different to give more realism.
As for color, you can touch up with a brush if it seems appropriate.
Finally here are some olive trees and some ilex.

And placed in a model in which the trees were needed to be olives.

If you don’t want to make them, they are available in our store.