Engine #5, the Ollie Johnston, eases a train out onto Geyser Gulch trestle as the last rays of the setting sun illuminate McKennon Arch and an ancient Utah Juniper.
I have to admit that Junipers, ofttimes called ceders by the early Mormon settlers, are my absolute favorite kind of trees. They can live a thousand years or more, eking out a humble existence on the mesa tops, hills and canyon rims; sometimes taking root in solid rock, cracking and breaking it with their spreading roots. They don't get very big, a tall Juniper might be 20 feet, but they do develop an enormous amount of character during their long and difficult lives, and anything with that kind of character is just begging to be modeled.
A Utah Juniper, clinging to the rim of Grand Canyon near Hermit's Rest.
Building a Juniper
Note that it is just as easy to make several trees at one time as it is to make one, but for the sake of clarity I'll only be showing the construction of a single tree.
- Braided steel picture wire (the uncoated kind).
- Acrylic modeling paste. I use Liquitex but any brand will probably do.
- Krylon spray paint: Gray Primer, Red Primer, Flat Ivory.
- Acrylic paint: Burnt Umber, Unbleached Titanium.
- Woodland Scenics (or other) Dark Green Foliage.
- 3M 45 All Purpose Spray Adhesive.
Step #3: A base coat of Krylon Gray Primer. Let that dry
Step #4: A wash of Burnt Umber acrylics, leaving a bit of the gray to show through here and there. Let that dry.
Step #6: Next I spray the ends of the branches with the 3M adhesive, taking care not to get too much on the trunk. Then it's a simple matter to apply the clumps of Woodland Scenics foliage here and there, once again using photos for a guide.
Step #7: Using Unbleached Titanium, I now carefully dry-brush some highlights onto the trunk and roots to bring out the detail. Again, if this gets overdone, it's easy to tone it down with another wash of Burnt Umber.
And there you have it, an ancient desert evergreen clinging to the cliffside. Now I'm off to make more trees. Adios for now!