How to make foam core branches for stage trees

Written by melissa j. bell
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How to make foam core branches for stage trees
You can mimic any type of tree for your stage prop. (dead tree and winter tree image by Kevin Eaves from

Stage props, such as trees, houses and other backdrops, are often made from foam core board, one of the indispensable staple materials for stage prop making. Foam core board, often simply referred to as foam core, was originally used as a backing material for art framing. The material is made of foam coated with paper or plastic, so that it is both durable and soft. You can use large sheets of foam core to make your own stage props such as branches for a stage tree.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Large foam core board
  • Craft knife or electric knife
  • Newspaper
  • Latex paint or wood glue
  • Paint brushes
  • Acrylic paint or spray paint
  • Sponges
  • Clear acrylic gloss
  • Craft glue

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  1. 1

    Draw out the branch shape you want on a large sheet of paper. You can trace actual fallen tree branches to get a realistic look, or come up with your own shape. Think about the effect you want the prop tree to have. Make angular, spindly branches for a spooky tree and soft, curving branches for an inviting tree.

  2. 2

    Cut your branch from the paper and tape it to a large piece of foam core board. Cut around the pattern with a craft knife or an electric knife. Cut slowly so that your branch has smooth edges.

  3. 3

    Draw and cut as many branches as you need. Use different shapes so that your overall tree is well balanced.

  4. 4

    Lay out your branches on a covered surface. You can use newspapers or plastic to protect your work surface.

  5. 5

    Coat the surface of your foam core branches with regular latex house paint or a layer of wood glue. This will seal and protect the foam from any type of paint you wish to apply. Let the sealer layer dry.

  6. 6

    Paint your tree branches to match the trunk of your tree. Use acrylic paint, spray paint or any other type of paint you like. You can use sponges to dapple the paint onto the foam. Let the paint dry.

  7. 7

    Seal the paint with a clear acrylic gloss. Let the gloss dry.

  8. 8

    Attach the foam core branches to your stage tree trunk as desired. You can use craft glue to attach the branches.

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