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RESTORING OLD TREES:
A simple method.
REPAIR & RESTORATION REPRODUCTION PARTS
TABLE of CONTENTS
Very often on these old houses the trees have faded badly even though the house may be pristine. Apparently the dyes they used were not very color fast. This method uses readily available materials but is a fairly easy project.
This house shows these badly faded, and brittle luffa trees. The small piece will be used also and later glued to the top of the left tree. I removed these well glued on trees by prying them off with the screwdriver shown at the lower left.
You start this process by first soaking them in water as at this stage they are somewhat fragile.
After soaking till they are soft you take them out and let them dry off a bit as the luffa tree is doing in the background. I then squirt some dark green latex paint on the tree. This is available from the craft department at the local Wal-Mart.
I then mush the paint into the sponge until it is well dispersed. Notice the latex gloves which are also available at the local Wal-mart. HIGHLY recommended!
I then dunk the tree into the water to dilute excess paint in the tree.
The tree is then blotted to remove the excess water and paint.
After drying I usually re-glue the trees and then brush on some white latex paint that I have tinted with a touch of black to knock down the over brightness of the paint. Notice that the tree on the left is standing straight now. All that is left to do with this house isto install a some of Papa Ted's Windows and this will be ready for another 75 years.
Making NEW Trees:
A lot of times they're just plain gone, especially those up on trunks. The only thing to do is replace them. It really isn't bad, in fact it rates high as a fun craft project, I think. Introducing:
AKA: "loofah," "lufa" "Lou Faugh." The spelling hasn't been agreed upon. It's a sort of Southeast Asian gourd/vegetable that looks like a large zucchini while growing, are edible when small, but are mainly valued for the tough, fiberous skeletons they leave behind - prized for their talent and durability as a bath scrubbing pad. Nothing excells them for their ability to remove cellulite and dead skin. A whole one is about the size of - and looks like - a french breadloaf. I used to be able to get them at Pier One Imports years ago, but lately all I seem to find are pieces like these.
Actually, not all that you see in the upper picture is really useable for trees. The outer "rind" is very dense and doesn't look right. I get my best tree material from the "heart" and the radials coming out from it. Getting the most out of a given luffa is an art you develope like carving a turkey. The pieces above were made by gluing radials back-to-back. The two piece 2nd and 3rd from the right are radial strips before gluing. You then cut a size and shape to be the tree you want and paint as per Tom's description above or do as I do and just immerse them in the paint jar, soak for an hour or so, them bring them up to drip-dry on toothpicks.
When your piece is dry, You may need an ice-pick or awl to poke a hole up through the bottom to accept the "trunk." Some houses used actual twigs for trunks, other times it's heavy wire wrapped in tissue and painted. You can then highlight the branch tips with white paint and even stick a red plaster "holly-berry" on top if the size and style of the house warrants it.
A tree made by this method can be seen on the January,2002:House of the Month.
I like to blend my tree paint for a very dark forest green. It's hard to tell what the colors truly were back then because of fading, but the darker greens were characteristic of PreWar Christmas. (See January,2002 "House of the Month" for other views.)
- "Papa" Ted
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