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Tree Bases from DAS Clay

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Grinning Norm writes:

I've used DAS clay for basing rather small trees (with bases less than an inch in diameter) and haven't had problems with warping. I think the problem is that when the big mass of clay cures at different rates warping occurs, but this is minimized if the mass is smaller.

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18 December 2007page first published

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I'm back again, with my crazy flower-trees...

After my last experiment, I got to wondering if the clay product I was using - DAS Clay, an art product which seems to be paper mache impregnated with clay - was strong enough to create a tree base with on its own. It definitely dries hard, and even has a ceramic "ring" to it when tapped.

So I took my plastic flower, set it on some scrap paper, and traced the outline of the "canopy" to give me an idea of the size of base I wanted. Then I took the flower stem, bent a right angle in it, clipped off the excess, and began pressing clay around it to form a base.

Tree base from DAS clay

I let the base dry for two days - and when it still wasn't dry, I set it near a light bulb to get some of the heat. As it dried, the edges of the base slightly warped - curving both up and down.

Dried tree base

To get the base to lie flatter, I used a file to remove some of the problems from the bottom. I also filed the edges where they weren't sloping downwards the way I wanted them to.

To make sure the plant stem stayed attached to the base, I applied superglue to the bent wire on the bottom.

Base bottom

The picture of the bottom of the base shows how the clay acts as it dries - different areas pull apart from each other, opening cracks. You can also still see the impression of the paper towel that was under the base when I originally molded it!

Finally, I again coated the base with Renaissance Ink "x-fine" flocking gel and dropped it in my bowl of flock. When it dried, a good spray of Testors Dullcote helps seat the flock (and cut down on any "shine" from the flocking gel).

Finished tree
What worked:
The DAS clay seems quite strong enough to use to make bases on its own. The weight of the clay easily holds the tree down. Since I used the "terracotta" color, I didn't need to paint the base.
What didn't work:
The base isn't flat. Probably flat enough for wargaming purposes, but it looks a bit amateur.