Untitled document  Here is a step by step guide on how I have made palm trees for my 20mm desert scenery.

First a picture of the materials you will need.


Here I have used locking wire but garden wire, from a builders merchants or a garden centre will do just as well. I have illustrated wood glue but any PVA is suitable. The super glue is medium viscosity but the thicker variety is also OK but avoid the thin type for this job. The tissue is the mansize variety with NO added balsam.

Obviously with using these tools and adhesives be careful not to glue yourself together or cut anything off!!


Here is an illustration of the length to cut your wire. I have used a completed tree as a comparison.


First get all the lengths of wire level at one end. This will be the ‘roots’, or the end that will fix into the base. Then, by hand, twist the lengths together. It does not matter which way you twist them as long as once you have started going one way, continue going that way.


Next grip the ‘Roots end’ with a pair of pliers and the other end, part way in from the end, taking account of the length of wire that the palm fronds will be fixed to. Twist, in the same direction as before until the wires in the trunk are nice and tight.


Here is what you are aiming for.


Now mix some water and PVA together, in a bowl, and paint a small amount onto the top of the trunk, just below where the splayed ends meet the trunk. Then take some pre cut strips of tissue, about ten millimeters wide, and place them on one side of the trunk and lace them through the splayed ends. Keep doing this until the top is covered. Here the tissue is glossy because it is still wet.


Next draw out a number of frond shapes on the copy paper. You can do one sheet then photocopy or scan a number of copies. I initially put a point at each end but later I rounded off one end and found these shapes much easier to fit.


Next take further ten millimetre wide strips of tissue and wrap them around the trunk of the tree starting from the top and working downwards. Make sure you overlap each lower wrapping over the tissue above. When this is done lightly brush the edges down so that they give a rough edge.

Above the trunk has dried and been painted brown, I originally used Vallejo 921 English Uniform. After a while, when, I realised I needed much more, I mixed Windsor & Newton Galleria Raw Umber with some Yellow Ochre to get a close approximation.

Next take one of the paper palm fronds and compare it to the wire sticking out of the trunk. You need to get the rounded base of the leaf as close as possible to the start of the wire and have the point of the palm frond just a bit longer than the wire. Cut the wire to length. Fold the leaf in half, along its length, making sure you get the fold on the point of the leaf. Place the wire in the crease of the leaf and dribble the super glue from the point down towards the base. Be careful not to get glued to the leaf. If this happens CAREFULLY peel the paper leaf away from your finger to avoid tearing your skin! Move your finger from one side to the other. This peeling effect is super glues achilles heel. It does not tolerate this movement very well. Super glue sets by the reaction with water. You can make the reaction faster by breathing on the palm frond.

WARNING: DO NOT breath in the vapour!

This is where thin superglue will not be suitable as it will shoot along the wire and go all over the tree. Pinch the frond to the wire, along its length. Lastly, using the scissors, cut some slots into the edge of the frond at random positions.


When all the fronds are on allow the super glue to dry, overnight. When dry hold a frond at the base, between two fingers, and placing another two fingers next to them SLOWLY bend the palm frond downwards. Do this along its length. Do not worry if the paper along the top of the frond tears slightly. This is why you bend the fronds slowly. I have found that if you leave the superglue to dry for longer than a day then the frond is more likely to part from the wire or the frond will tear more. Position the fronds in an irregular fashion with some almost vertical.


Next begin painting the fronds. I have used Windsor & Newton Galleria Sap Green mixed with a little of the brown paint I mixed earlier. Do not worry if it dries quite dark. Use a large brush and allow some of the white from the paper to show through. If you get some on the trunk you can touch this up later. Now do a heavy dry brush of neat Sap Green. Next dry brush a rough coat of Vallejo 967 Olive Green in a downward direction from the crease in the frond to the edge. Concentrate on the underneath of the fronds as well. Lastly mix a little Vallejo 974 green Sky with the Olive Green and LIGHTLY dry brush over all the leaves.


Here are two completed trees. The last steps are: ensure you have the fronds positioned in the correct positions, touch up the paint on the trunk and when dry, dry brush with Vallejo 819 Iraqui Sand. This will highlight the rough edges on the trunk.

I have found these trees are springy and withstand a careless hand well. I have some  of these I have made fifteen years ago and they are still in good condition.

I hope that you have found this feature informative and helpful.