Thursday, August 15, 2013

How To Make Realistic Tree Bark

coffee can and a dollhouse tree

Update!
02/03/2015 I made more bark last year and this year then decided to update my video tutorial. So click here  to view the updated tutorial. I ALSO UPDATED THE WRITTEN STEPS here

As part of my ongoing Gnome project I needed a tree but I did not have any trees on hand so of course the only solution was to
make one! I used a coffee can for the house and a pringles can for the outhouse seen here. I made a video tutorial that will walk you through all the steps I took to make the bark for both of these. See below for the materials list I used.

I added lots of texture for my trees but you could make it smoother. I also chose to make a brown tree but you could really make it any color you'd like. To get some ideas just google "tree trunk color" and click on images. You could also add vines, moss or mushrooms to your tree. Go crazy and have fun!!

Materials Needed:

Empty can
wax paper
piece of burlap or craft felt
Hot glue gun
Tacky Glue
Water
Soft Paper (paper towels or a homemade type paper or use tissues if stronger paper isn't available)
paint brushes
acrylic craft paint (suggestions for color: cafe mocha, burnt sienna, golden brown, black)

Optional:

minwax golden oak
linseed oil

Here's a step by step for those of you who can't view videos online

1) strip your empty can of any labels
2) cover the surface of your can with a piece of felt or burlap
3) place your can on a large piece of wax paper
4) rip up a pile of paper
5) mix up a solution of 1 part glue and 2 parts water
6) dip your paper in the glue solution, make sure to remove the excess
7) lay the wet paper over the surface of the can then make ripples and things to make it look like rough tree bark *see photo below. I gave the surface a lot of texture and also extended the bark onto the wax paper to give the tree roots
8) let dry overnight. Drying time depends on how much or little texture you made.
9) paint on the base coat of color and let dry (I used coffee mocha as the base color)
10) if you use the minwax, put a coat of that over the base coat and let dry
11) using the other acrylic colors highlight some areas of  the bark and also darken up some areas of the bark and let dry. I highlighted the protruding areas and darkened up the areas inside the crevices.
12) paint over any areas you feel needs it, highlight more ares or add in more shadow if it needs it. I did many layers of paint on my tree but that is all preference really. It's all up to you how the tree will look.
13) If you choose to add the linseed oil then do that once the paint is done and dried and you feel there's no more paint to add
14) cut away the wax paper.. cut carefully around any roots you added but don't pull the wax paper away from underneath the roots. You will find that the thicker ares of the roots will still be damp inside. Wait a few more days then slit the wax paper open to let the air in.

unpainted fake bark

fake bark dried and painted

That's it! I hope this gave you some ideas on how to make your own tree and if you made one please stop by my facebook page and post a photo so I can see too

https://www.facebook.com/AwesomeDollhouseshttps://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbuVHsA9qzaYe6TSUsiUGNHn_pTn5DScvhttp://www.amigurumitogo.com/

44 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I am a art teacher and i am going to try to use this method on an on plastic horse feed tub so the students can use it as a prop to stand on in there upcoming Robin Hood play. Thanks

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  2. Awesome as always

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  3. Thanks for sharing it looks fantastic!

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    Replies
    1. you're welcome and thanks so much, glad you like it :)

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  4. Sharon, thank you for generously sharing with us your wonderful tutorial. You have a great voice ! :) And what a great idea using a lazy susan *cough while working :). I have one but I hardly use it. Your tree house is awesome because the bark you made is very realistic. Great job!

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  5. so awesome Sans :) You're welcome, I enjoyed making the bark and certainly will be making more in future projects. I want to experiment now making different kinds of bark, of course, lol
    And thank you! I appreciate everything you said, truly :)

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  6. Excellent tutorial! This is similar to how I create papier-mache animal sculptures. Never thought about making fairy tree houses before. Your creations are adorable! Thanks for the great inspiration!

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  7. Any info on the inside of the fairy house yet? My granddaughter is going to love this. Thank you so much for sharing your talents.

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    Replies
    1. I did a photo tour of my other coffee can dollhouse. The exterior of that one is done differently than this one but the cans are the same size. Look in my label list on the right side of this page, you'll have to scroll up and click on coffee can dollhouse. Thanks for asking!

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    2. When will you show how to to do the inside? I am so excited about this.

      Gail

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    3. Hi Gail, I will do my best to get it done today. I reply here again when it's ready... thanks for asking it has been on my mind the last week or so but I have been recovering from a head cold so my voice wasn't the best, lol today should be better :))

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    4. UPDATE! Today is January 6th 2014 and I am right now part way through the filming of this tutorial, it should be up on youtube by the end of the day. I'm in Canada so the end of my day, lol it's almost 1pm PST. sorry for the delay, life kinda gets in my way sometimes!

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  8. can you put them outside ?

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't tell you for sure because I've never tried it but maybe if you gave it a coat of something that would weatherproof it? You'd have to ask your local paint store if they know of a product that could seal it. Thanks for asking :)

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  9. This looks amazing Sharon. Just watched the tutorial. I'm interested in making a full size tree in my daughter's room. I'm curious how strong is the bark? Would it hold up to kids or is it fragile? It looks pretty sturdy. Thanks for showing us how to make it.
    Jared

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    1. Thank you Jared. It is pretty sturdy for normal wear and tear but I don't think it would hold up to rough play. I couldn't say for certain but if the bark wasn't so thick and you put on a top coat, like a sealer of some sort? The best to do is try a sample and see how it holds up. Hope that helps!

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  10. I am making a large paper mache tree for a friend's bridal shower, and I was looking EVERYWHERE for a good tutorial on how to make realistic bark. Your video and instructions are awesome, and your work is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing your talents with others! :)

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    1. Oh thank you so much, your comment just made my whole day! I'm so glad you found the tutorial and that it will be helpful.. all the best to you and your friend's upcoming bridal shower!!
      Sharon Ojala
      xo

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  11. I am curious, is the felt or burlap necessary? I have a cardboard oatmeal cylinder container. Are you working with a metal can?

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    1. I found it helped a great deal hang onto the wet paper and hold the creases I made. But try it without and see how it goes... I honestly never tried it because the can was cardboard that had a very smooth, painted exterior and I thought the paper wouldn't hold well to it while drying

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  12. Very nice looks realistic, im planning to make a book shelves with bark on the outside. the grade 1 pupils will surely like this, thank you very much maam for sharing your talent. God Bless.

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  13. Wow! This is so awesome and unique! I haven't seen anything else like this, and I admit I spend a lot of time looking up crafty projects. I love this! Thanks!!

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  14. Loved the idea, need it for my own personal homemade projects right click, No copy, no problem There's more than one way to skin a cat and I did.

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    1. my apologies.. I had forgotten I had right click disabled. I just removed it.

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    2. and hopefully you saw the updated version I added of this tutorial too http://www.sharonojala.com/2015/02/how-to-make-fake-bark-for-dollhouses.html

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  15. Could I use this process to cover a lampshade or would the heat from the lightbulb create a fire hazzard?

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    Replies
    1. sorry, I wouldn't know, I've never tried that.

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  16. Truly awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing...I am definitely going to try this someday...hopefully with my grandkids!! Stay Blessed!!

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  17. have you ever tried this on anything bigger? wondering if a bucket or basket of some sort would work. it would be a easy new born prop

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  18. Very creative. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your talent and expertise with us. A word of caution however if you plan to use Linseed oil. It is extremely dangerous. Please check out this link first.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EreqG0_PLQ

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  19. Thank you so much for your amazing tutorial. I love it. Do you know if the bark will tolerate being outdoors?

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    1. that I don't know for sure since I've never tried it. I think if you used a sealer, one for exterior, and sealed every inch it would be good outside. Maybe talk to somebody at a hardware store, they'd know better what to do and what to use.

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    2. for outside use ..try modge podge waterproof..that is what I use on my fairy artwork. However you may need quite a bit depending on how big your can is (tree trunk)

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  20. I am SO glad I found you...Great tutorial! I was making a tree to add little lights on and had plastered it into a coffee can. I have been looking at the can but couldn't decide what I wanted to do. This is perfect. I plan to use the tree on my back porch, so will seal thoroughly. Thanks a million!!! Frani

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  21. Can you advise what I could use to make this waterproof for outside weather conditions please?
    ��

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    1. I've never weather proofed my projects. You can do it, but you would have to talk to someone at your local hardware store. They would better advise you what to use

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  22. WHERE IS THE CAN?

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  23. THANKS! I'm making a Gnome & Mushroom garden and wanted some tree trunks to set my Gnomes on. I made one from plaster of paris but it just wasnt what I wanted it to look like. THIS IS PERFECT.

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  24. Thanks for this, going to be using the idea to create a walking tree-man for an upcoming film of mine

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