Easy Floral Wire Trees for Your Model Railroad

I recently discovered a surprising fact on my model railroad. I don’t have enough trees! After setting about thirty more pine trees, I took a good look over my scenery, and, sure enough, I have to make more trees.

Thanks to so many great modelers who post terrific videos on YouTube, I have learned how to easily make amazing looking trees in a relatively short amount of time. I use Luke Towan’s procedure for making floral wire trees, but mine are a little less detailed than his, which works fine for me.

I use 26 gauge, green floral wire. A word of caution, even though 26 gauge is not stiff, the ends are still sharp and will easily poke into your skin if you’re not careful!

You can tell this floral wire is quite old – $1.57 at Walmart. I recently paid about $2.50 for a two-hundred fifty foot roll.

  1. Cut 14 pieces of wire, about 13 inches long. (If you want your tree trunks to be thicker, use more wire. But remember, more wires will make them more difficult to twist.
  2. Fold the wires in half.

3. While gripping the end, and placing your index finger between the two strands of wire, begin twisting the two strands together tightly. (Since the wire is so thin, the twisted wires will easily hold their shape.) As you can see on the HO scale ruler, the trunk of this tree will be about 14 feet tall.

4. Divide the wire ends into three strands, approximately the same number of wires in each.

5. Twist the three strands individually, making three main branches. (If you want to have more branches from the trunk, separate the wires into smaller groups before twisting them.) My branches on this part of the tree will be about eight feet long.

6. Divide the wires coming from the three main branches into two strands, each with approximately the same number of wires.

7. Twist the new strands of wire, making smaller branches. Using this example, you now have six smaller branches extending higher into the tree.

8. Fold the end of each strand back over the branch, leaving a loop on the end. While holding the loop tightly, and holding the wires against the branch, twist the loop so the wire ends wrap around the branch.

9. Repeat the process for each of the strands of wires.

10. Using a good hobby wire-clipper, cut each of the loop strands.
11. Using a pair of pliers, grip the wire ends and twist into small branches. (Some of the wire pieces may come off, but that’s okay.
12. Adjust the branches until you’re happy with the look of the tree.
13. Using the pliers, grip the bottom loop of the trunk and flatten it. (Luke Towan, on his Boulder Creek Railroad Tutorials, cuts this loop and creates roots which will be secured in place on the layout with plaster. You may want to use that detail as well. I choose to drill a hole and glue the trunk in place.)

14. When you are satisfied with the shape of your trees, it’s time to cover them with liquid latex rubber. I purchased this jar at craft supply store. Using a small paint brush, cover the entire tree with latex. Once dry, you will want to add at least one more coat to the trunk and heavy branches to reduce any chance of wires showing through.

You are nearing the end of the project, and you can already see your trees are looking great! Just a few more steps and they’ll be ready for placement in your model railroad scenery.

15. I use Acrylic Burnt Umber to paint the entire tree. I have several here that are ready for foliage.

16. I have used a couple brands of spray adhesive, but am happiest with the results of this brand. Wearing latex gloves, spray the branches of the trees, being careful not to get spray on the tree trunks.

17. While the spray is still wet, dip your tree into a bag of foam foliage. Twist the trunk in the foam, and pinch the foliage onto the branches. Shake the excess foam loose and set your completed tree aside. Do the same process with each of your prepared trees.

This is an easy way to make lots of great looking trees for your layout. I will have to make many more until I’m completely sure my model railroad, The Maple Valley Short Line, is fully saturated with trees.

Happy model railroading, everyone!

Tuesday Teacher – Mr. Shermer, Choir

Excerpt: “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery” by Dale Parsons, All Rights Reserved

“Why do I have to learn how to sing? Why does the school need a choir? Whose idea was this, anyway?” Smivey thought as he walked to choir class. As he shuffles along, getting closer to the choir room he hears the voice of Luciano Pavorotti wafting through the hall. Every day it’s the same thing. Mr. Shermer plays the same music as students enter the room.

“Choir, just listen to this tremendous voice!” he always says, like it was the first time he ever said it, and the first time the students ever heard it. “Listen! Try to drink in the power of his voice, the depth of his emotion, the incredible strength of his spirit!” As the song concludes, Mr. Shermer continues, “Choir members, listen to me. Music carries the emotion of the soul like nothing else! Music communicates when every other voice is silent! Music can lift the spirit, give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful!” Smivey thinks maybe Mr. Shermer used to be a preacher. He doesn’t know where else he could have learned to give speeches like this.

“Choir, take out Springtime In My Love’s Caress, by Truman Calver” Mr. Shermer said, stepping to the podium.

“We shouldn’t be singing songs like this” Smivey thought as he found the music in his folder. “It’s so embarrassing.”

“Altos, I would like to begin with you today. Please start at measure fourteen. Miss Kirtz, their note please.”

Gretchin Kirtz has been taking piano lessons since she was four years old. Smivey can’t stand to watch her. She acts like she’s playing in front of thousands of people. She always sits straight up and nods when Mr. Shermer tells her what to do. She lifts her hand slowly, and gently brings her finger down on the key like she’s afraid it will splinter into a million pieces if she touches it too hard. “Okay altos, one and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast…”

It’s the word “breast” that is just too much. “We shouldn’t be singing this. Why can’t we sing something by the Beatles? No one has ever heard of Truman Calver or his stupid song about something warm in my breast” Smivey thought as he heard muffled laughter coming from the back row.

“Gentlemen!” Mr. Shermer yelled as the altos stopped singing. “How many times must I tell you that the term “breast” in this song does not mean what you’re thinking! The breast is referred to as the deepest part of the heart. The songwriter is expressing his deep feeling for his one true love. Please choir. You can do this.”

“Okay, altos, one more time. One and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast

“Gently, gently, she comes ever nearer

“Longing for the touch of my caress…”

“Very nice, very nice. Okay, choir, let’s start at the beginning. Miss Kirtz, the introduction please, one and two and…”

Gretchen plays the introduction perfectly, just like she does every time, and the choir began singing. In spite of Smivey’s thoughts about the song, it actually sounded pretty good. When Mr. Shermer first gave them the music Smivey decided to just stop singing when they got to the word “breast.” It reminded him too much of hearing his mother talking about healthy bowels.

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast”

Just at that moment there came a loud snort from the back row. Mr. Shermer stopped the choir. “Thomas Mindler, you go to the office this instant! Mr. Stoker, do you want to join him?”

“No,” Michael Stoker answered.

Mr. Shermer asked, “Mr. Herney, what is wrong with you?”

Steven Herney was laughing so hard his face was radish red but he hadn’t made a sound.

“Answer me!” Mr. Shermer demanded.

When Steven tried to talk he sprayed spit all over Smivey’s back.

“That’s it,” Mr. Shermer hollered, “You go to the office, too!”

Once the commotion had ended, Mr. Shermer started again. “Okay, choir, from the beginning of Mr. Calver’s piece. One and two and…”

Just at that moment the bell rang. Smivey was never so glad to hear anything in his life.

“Choir, remember, fall concert is coming up in three weeks. Make sure your parents have it on their calendar!” Mr. Shermer yelled as everyone hurried out of the classroom.

Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons