Wednesday, 15 October 2014

faraway tree foam party!

So its time to start giving the tree some solidity. Up until this point the tree was an exercise in woodwork, originally I had intended this build to follow down the same path and my smaller houses using cardboard tubes for the living areas with a small amount of wood to attach hinges too. After a bit of playing around it quickly became apparent that this wouldn't give the flexibility to the different rooms I wanted to create and also, with out a substantial frame work, it would be difficult to make something that will come apart for transporting. Anyway, with the frame complete I can carry on as originally intended with the foam. I use 2 inch thick foam sheets that you can buy from builders merchants. They come in 8x4 sizes and are very economical at around £10.00 per sheet. They cash be shaped with a hacksaw blade, hot wire or Stanley knife(score and snap) and will provide most of the thickness to the tree. The foam can be glued with PVA and also pinned together with bamboo sticks.
One of the reasons for using the foam is its both light and strong. You could do a similar thing using crumpled newspaper, but the foam will provide a solid underpinning to the papier mache and plaster coats.The pictures shown how the grey foam is cut and glued into all the gaps, I mainly used a hacksaw blade to cut the sheets, then glued in with some pva. I leave gasps between the sheets so that I can stick everything solid with the expanding foam. A word of warning about the foam, WEAR GLOVES! I have been using expanding foam for years and still manage to get it were I don't want it, it will stick to anything and if you get it on your skin its unbelievably tricky to get off. My very first go with the foam years ago saw me trying to push about great erupting clouds of foam engulfing the trackwork of a model railway I was building. It was suggested that the expanding foam would be good for making hills in my inexperienced hands I Managed to empty a whole can of the stuff onto a 3 foot square baseboard and then watched in horror as the neatly applied foam did exactly what it said on the tin and expand with amazing rapidity all OK over my track, my clothes, the kitchen table and the floor. The experience left me with hands covered in the stuff, which wouldn't wash off, and the residue had to be scraped off with a razor!!
So step one, put on gloves, step two, only put a small amt on at a time. It is tempting to really squeeze out loads in one area, particularly if you have big gaps too fill but the foam keeps expanding for up to half an hour and you can easily walk away from the job only to come back forty minutes later to find that the foam has started to take on the appearance of a 1950s horror movie and consumed everything in its path!!. I am using the foam to help stick the solid foam chunks together and for a bit of gap filling. When it is all cured I will then carve the whole lot and cover it in papier mache.
 This picture shows a sheet of the foam and some tins of foam and some PVA. I use the larger cans of foam and these are better value.


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