How to make a spray foam tree

Written by mason howard
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Set designers discovered the advantages of using spray foam long ago. Spray foam, which is a polyurethane based foam, is well-suited for making props because is lightweight, expands to cover large surfaces quickly, and is easy to carve and sculpt. Take a cue from set designers to make your own spray foam tree. With a bit of artistry, it is possible with spray foam to make any size or style tree you desire.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plywood
  • Jigsaw
  • 2-by-2 board
  • Drill
  • Screw
  • Chicken wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Spray foam
  • Knife
  • Rasp
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust mask
  • Hand broom
  • Cloth
  • Plastic primer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Fake leaves (optional)

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  1. 1

    Create a basic armature. Cut a round piece of plywood for the base using a jigsaw. Cut it to the size you want the trunk of your tree to be. Cut a 2-by-2 board to the height you want your tree. Screw the 2-by-2 board to the centre of the plywood circle.

  2. 2

    Cut a section of chicken wire with wire cutters and wrap it around the 2-by-2 for the trunk. Bend and model the chicken wire to form the shape of a trunk.

  3. 3

    Cut several smaller sections of chicken wire and wrap them into tubes for branches. Hook and wire the branches to the trunk and bend and shape them as needed.

  4. 4

    Prepare to apply foam. Put on gloves and mask and work in a well-ventilated environment. Spray foam is vaporous and very difficult to remove from your skin.

  5. 5

    Start spraying the foam at the base of the tree and work your way up in a spiralling manner. Continue until the entire tree is covered. Leave the foam to cure.

  6. 6

    Carve the foam as desired to smooth down the bumps in the foam and to create the surface texture of the tree. A knife, a rasp and sandpaper are all suitable tools for carving foam. Wear a dust mask when sanding to avoid inhalation of sanding dust.

  7. 7

    Brush the tree with a hand broom and wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove all residual sanding dust.

  8. 8

    Paint the tree with a plastic primer. Do not use aerosol or solvent-based paints, as they will dissolve the foam.

  9. 9

    Paint the tree with shades of brown acrylic paint.

  10. 10

    Add leaves to the tree, if you wish. Add leaves by poking holes in the foam with a nail, dipping the stems of fake leaves into glue and sticking them into the holes.

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