The aforementioned project for which I painted many, many leaves also required branches (what else would leaves be on?). Not only branches, but branches of specific thicknesses and shapes. And, oh yeah, they have to be light enough to carry on my back. Geez!
I solved the conundrum by creating the branches out of PVC pipe. It's cheap, readily available, lightweight, comes in many different thicknesses, and easy to bend with some sand and a heat gun. I'll talk more about that process in another post.
Once I had all this smooth PVC formed into branches, how to make them look like... well branches? The answer: TEXTURE ALL THE THIIINGS!
Step-by-step after the jump:
- Cheap paintbrushes
- Matte Modpodge (matte so it's easier to paint)
- Tissue paper (any colour will do, I happened to have white)
Then, I used the following steps:
1. Crumple the tissue paper in (mostly) one direction to create wrinkles that more-or-less go one way. I did this by holding one side of the tissue sheets in my hands, then using my fingers to gather and crumple the sheet until it was all inside of my hands. It was sort of like doing a really poor version of accordion folding.
After crumpling, tear the tissue sheets into smaller pieces. You don't want really tiny pieces as you would for paper mache; you want larger pieces about four or five inches wide and at least long enough to wrap around the branch. A little longer than that is better.
2. Apply some Modpodge (white glue should also work here, but Modpodge is stronger) to a section of the branch. Overlap the Modpodge a little with previously-textured sections to ensure no spots are missed.
3. Apply the end of one piece of tissue to the spot, and use your Modpodge-dipped brush to gently apply the tissue, wrapping it around the branch and brushing in the same direction as the wrinkles, as much as you can help it. You want the wrinkles to remain in-tact; don't pull the tissue taught or do anything else to discourage wrinkling.
4. After ensuring the piece is covered in Modpodge, continue down the rest of the piece in the same manner, overlapping sheets of tissue slightly (or a lot) as you go. Fill in spots that seem thin or unconvincing.
Eventually, you'll have a lovely, textured piece. This method covers many flaws and lumps. My branches were lumpy and had all different textures because of the fiberglass, glue, and what have you, but the wrinkled tissue gave it a uniform texture.
Be sure to let everything dry completely (I recommend overnight at least) before attempting to paint it. I applied a coat or two of primer, and then brown spray paint. I'm not quite done with the painting (it's a bit boring and needs touchups, etc.), but you can see from the first photo that it's already pretty convincing.