Thursday, 23 January 2020

Mallorn Trees

NOTE: This article first appeared on The Last Alliance way back in 2002!

Equipment and materials used:
Tissue Paper
Scouring Pad
Yellow/Green Flock
PVA Glue
Spray Glue
Hot Wire Cutter
Black Paint
Various Grey Paints
Camo Green Paint

The branches of the mallorn-tree grew out nearly straight from the trunk, and then swept upward; but near the top the main stem divided into a crown of many boughs.


The Mallorns (or Mellyrn) are the golden trees of Lothlorien.

This is the first time I have attempted to make scratch built trees but I could think of no other way of producing the massive Mallorns without building them myself. I wanted a nice and simple method yet one that when finished looked effective on the tabletop. I may make these in a smaller scale to see if the techniques presented here could be used for normal trees.

The Trunk

Take a block of polystyrene that is 2" by 2" and about 18" long. Using a hot wire cutter, run the "blade" down the polystyrene length ways in an effort to create a cylinder shape. You are not after a perfect circle shape here as tree trunks are not perfectly round.

Keep carving until you are happy with the look and shape of the trunk and then set it to one side.

The Roots

The tree trunks roots are made from polystyrene. Take a piece that is about 3" long, 2" high and 1" wide. If this is the first one you have constructed you may want to draw a rough outline on it first to act as a guide while you cut it out. Use the picture below for a guide on the shape you are after.

The high bit at the back is the part that will be attached to the trunk, going along the root it curves down until it reaches the end. Also it tapers in widthwise as well. You will need to make a few of these which you can make of various lengths, widths and sizes. This will add to the overall look of the tree.

Apply PVA glue to the back of the roots and stick them around the base of the trunk. You will probably need 6 - 8 roots depending on the size of them. Leave to one side and allow to dry. While doing this make sure that the tree can stand up properly as any adjustments can be made now rather than later.


Believe it or not the canopy of the tree is also made from polystyrene. This could be a good use of all those old off cuts and scraps you may have acquired (I have a big bag of off cuts that I keep from projects for just such an occasion). Start about an inch down from the top and go down to 5" from the bottom, apply with PVA glue, strips of polystyrene that are about 2" wide and 2" high. You will need to attached four of these. A bit of fore planning here at the trunk making stage can help this part but not carving this area of the trunk where the canopy is going. Leave these to dry. You may need to attached them one at a time and leave to dry before attaching the next.

Once they have dried take some small of cuts, about 3/4" long and 3/4" high and 2" wide and glue on the top part parallel with the four longer pieces.

Using smaller off cuts, build up the canopy shaping and filling in any gaps as you go. Try to remove any square corners and flat parts as much as possible. later once it has dried you can use your hot wire cutter to curve it further if needed.

The Branches

The branches are also made from shaped polystyrene. Take a rectangular block that is about 1/2" wide and large enough to cut a shape that will curve from the trunk to the underneath of the canopy. Cut his curve out and angle of the square edges.

You will need four of these. Using PVA glue them around the trunk so they are attached to the underneath of the canopy.

Covering the Tree

Taking some tissue paper and watered down PVA glue, cover the entire tree in paper and apply the watered PVA using and old brush. It is best to use one small piece of paper at a time. There are a number of reasons for doing this, it protects the polystyrene when you come to spray undercoat it later. Also you can use the tissue to add further shaping to the canopy.

Another reason for doing this is to add a bark texture to the trunk. When it comes to applying the paper to the trunk paint the glue on in up and doing motions. The effect you get is a barky rippled texture on the paper when it dries.

Make sure the entire tree is well covered so that no polystyrene is showing. Allow to dry completely, this may take several hours. Once dried spray the tree black.

The Foliage

The foliage is made from a flat green scouring pad, you will need several per tree depending on how big you made the canopy.

Take a pad and cut it up in to small irregular pieces that are no bigger than 1/2" by 1/2". It is best to make lots of these now and keep them in a container for later use.

Apply PVA to a section of the tree canopy. It is best to work on one small area at a time rather than the whole of the canopy in one go. Taking the small pieces of scouring pad sprinkle over the glued area making sure you get complete coverage.

Continue in this manner until you have covered the entire canopy. You can add more or less in places until you get the desired shape of the canopy you want.

Painting the Trunk

The trunks of Mallorns Trees are described as being silver grey. I did not want to take this too literally and paint mine silver so I decided upon greys. Start by dry brushing Codex Grey over the trunk area followed by a lighter dry brush of Fortress Grey. A final small dry brush of Skull White can be applied. To give the effect of moss growth a dry brush in various places of Camo Green can be applied.

Flocking the Canopy

To give the canopy a better look, flock can be applied. I used a golden green flock called Summer Mix for mine as the Mallorns are described as having golden leaves. Using a spray glue, spray one small area of the canopy at a time as like when the scouring bits where applied. Over a news paper or like sprinkle a generous covering of the chosen flock. Shake off any excess. Continue in this manner until the entire canopy is covered. Leave to dry completely. Repeat this process again until the scouring pad below no longer shows through.

The Finished Tree

The Mallorns Tree is now complete and ready to be used in your Lothlorien table tops.

I have made two of the trees and think they look really effective on a wooded table top.

No comments:

Post a comment