This is part two of my rubber tree adventure. I think "rubber tree" sounds so much sexier than ficus, don't you? "Ficus" says stale, joyless office environment; "rubber tree" says Teddy Roosevelt and safaris. And since this will ultimately be living in the Beacon Hill.... Anyway, I strongly suggest that if you're going to make this tree using the leaf sheet from Pepperwood Miniatures, as I've done here, that you purchase at least three packets of leaf sheets. I used two, and found it barely sufficient to my needs. And while I'm very happy with how my tree turned out, I would have liked to be able to be a bit less stodgy with my leaf usage--but, I had to conserve!
After I cut out all the leaves, I shaped them. Same basic principle as before, with the peperomia, except rubber tree leaves are rather broad and flat and so need less coaxing. I creased the stem line along the front of the leaf, encouraged the fold a bit with my fingers, then flipped it over and crimped the sides slightly to give each leaf some dimension and curl.
|A shaped leaf, from the back.|
|The same leaf, from the front.|
|Giving it a bit of a bend.|
Now, as far as actually attaching the leaves, I'd been a bit intimidated by how to go about starting and then the answer occurred to me in the middle of the night whilst I was up with my son: start from the trunk and move outward, just as with a real tree! Fabulous! And rather depressingly obvious. Here, I have my tree trunk ready to go and have laid out my leaves so I can get a good look at all of them as I work. You know, selecting the right one for the job and all.
I then made two little tinfoil cups, putting tacky glue in one of them and superglue in the other. First I dipped just the back end of the leaf, the underside where I'd be attaching it to the branch, in the tacky glue and then into the superglue, and then I pressed it into place. I used toothpicks to help me get the angle I wanted and, later, when the tree became more effulgent, tweezers.
Now, if one examines a real rubber tree, one notices that the leaves grow out from the branches in a spiral pattern. For the leaves pointing up at funny angles, I bent just the bottom edge of the leaf, just a millimeter or so if that, and used that bend as the fix point. The glue is pretty forgiving; you have a few seconds to get it in the right spot and I found that this method produced quite sturdy results. During the course of creating the whole plant, I only lost two leaves and both were easily reattached. The leaves that had been properly attached the first time didn't budge, even when I (as you'll see later on) painted them over with varnish.
|This is the point where I ran out of leaves.|
I got to this point, not even to the fullest part of the tree, and realized that I was entirely out of the biggest leaves that the sheet provides. I only had a few of the smaller ones left, which I'd planned to use near the top of the tree and at the edges of the branches where new growth peeps out. So I was in a bit of a fix. Luckily, I had a second set of sheets and could prepare that. Which I did, over the next few days--school and other activities getting in the way somewhat.
So in the final part, I'll cover trimming and shaping the branches, developing the shape of the overall tree and, finally, how I made the leaves look--to my mind--more or less like leaves. It's a bit tough to tell from these pictures, but as I began to reach what I felt like were the natural ends of the branches, keeping in mind the overall shape I wanted to develop, I shaped them slightly with pliers and trimmed them down with clippers. Purchase high quality wire clippers! Craft store wire clippers are for the birds, and have as much cutting power as the average plastic kazoo. I tended to leave everything a bit loose until I'd begun shaping the upper branches, as I hadn't yet gotten a clear sense of what the overall tree would look like.
So until next time...