So this is it--the end of the rubber tree saga. Hopefully you've found it interesting. So I kept on with applying my leaves, slowly building up my tree and trimming each individual branch as I went. I used the red leaves towards the edges of the branches--I don't know how realistic this is, as I haven't actually seen a rubber tree with red leaves in real life, but it looks glamorous.
As it turned out, I really had left quite a bit of room at the ends of the branches. I trimmed a little at a time, slowly giving myself a feel for how the tree was "growing." Overall, I'm glad I did it this way and think it made creating a natural shape probably easier than it would have otherwise been. Once in awhile, I moved the position of a branch with my pliers. Finally (see below) a real shape began to form and I trimmed off my remaining branches more or less to the correct length to give myself a feel for how and where to use my remaining leaves. They go quickly!
Finally, I had finished applying all my leaves.
I tried the plant out in situ--or what will be its future home, once the house is finished--to see if it fit there. I decided that I was happy with the overall shape, and ready to progress to the next step.
The first thing I had to do, in terms of finish work, was the base. It wasn't too terribly attractive at this point! Now, I'd considered and discarded a variety of options for ground cover, eventually settling on moss. I like moss. I packed the rest of the pot with Paper Clay. Now, if you're worried about shrinkage, you can let it dry overnight and then pack the edges around the shrinkage once it's dry. I just went ahead with the next step, and figured I'd deal with shrinkage when I encountered it--which was the next morning. I dealt with it by adding more moss around the edges.
|I painted the still-wet Paper Clay with burnt umber acrylic paint.|
I wanted my moss to have some character--real moss tends to get a bit lumpy--so I used glue that had texture. But you, obviously, can use anything depending on the final result you want to achieve. I applied little dabs of the glue with a tiny brush, spreading it around. This is also a good time to touch up the trunks, etc if you need to.
|I packed on my Woodland Scenics fine turf, then dusted it off gently.|
|Some catnip I grew for our cats, that they rejected.|
Then it was time for the finishing touch: varnishing the leaves. I mixed Ceramcoat gloss varnish with more of the same acrylic paints I'd used to make the initial glaze, focusing a little more on the yellow this time as opposed to the peach. I tested my results out on a piece of white paper a few times, until I'd achieved the translucency I wanted. Then, I began painting each leaf using a tiny brush (use a smaller brush than you think you need!--I learned this the hard way). The brush strokes work great to emphasize the texture of the leaves, so stroke lightly from the inside vein out. This takes a LONG time but is, in my opinion, well worth the effort--both in terms of color and texture.
|Right now, the leaves are still kind of paper-ish looking and too blue.|
|The contrast between varnished and not varnished.|
And then I was done.
|Refreshingly, my son doesn't care. He's very excited about having mastered this puzzle. He'll be a year and a half old at the end of October.|
So that's it, everyone. A tree. Thoughts?