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Making Convincing Ivy

This method of making wall climbing ivy is not for everyone, but for those who are willing to put in the time and effort, the payoff is worth it.

1. Materials: Birch seed spacers, roots, green paint, PVA glue (white glue), toothpicks, and a finished surface to attach the ivy to.

The most important material here is birch spacers.  The birch tree, along with its cool papery bark, also produces handy little seed pods. When dry, the pods flake apart leaving behind both the seeds (not needed) and perfectly ivy shaped spacers.

Birch seed pods, seeds, and spacers.
Birch seed pods, seeds, and spacers.

2. Separate the spacers from the stem and seeds.  I’ve found no perfect way to do this, there always seem to be seeds left behind, and pulling them out one by one is time consuming (believe me). In the end I opt for a little bit of breath or wind to blow much of the seeds, then a sharp pencil to pull out and collect the spacers.

Birch spacers free of the seeds.

2. Paint them green.  I take a container of the spacers, and pour some green paint into the container, then seal the lid (tightly!!) and shake it hard for a long time.  Once all the spacers have been given a good coating. spread them out on a piece of tinfoil to dry.  Some of the will naturally clump together.  I find that this clumping works to my advantage as it allows for some variety to the layers and shape of the overall layout.

Painted Birch spacers ready to be placed on the wall.

3. Cut some of the roots and glue them to the wall you will be putting the ivy onto.  The clean dried roots work extremely well to simulate the trunks and branches of the vines.

Root ball ready to be trimmed and applied to the wall.
Apply the roots to the wall to make the vines
Apply the roots to the wall to make the vines

4. Apply a layer of glue to where you plan on putting the vine leaves.  Go out and around the stems that you have already glued down, they are for show. Then with a toothpick, pick up the individual leaves and begin layering them onto the wall. Make sure to point all of the leaves down, if you look closely at real ivy, all of the leaves hang in roughly the same direction.  While this does take extra time and patience, the end result speaks for itself..

As you go, try not add all the leaves at once, but rather work in stages, letting the glue dry before adding another clump.  This allows some of the glue to harden and gives you a better base for your next layer.  I like to work on two or three vines at once, giving each vine time to dry while I work on the others.

Also, let the underlying vine poke through here and there.  The effect is nice, and it shows off the hard work you did in putting those roots there in the first place!

Add the ivy in stages, not all at once.

5. Keep working until you are satisfied with the overall look.  Send clumps off in different directions to add to the idea that it is still sending off new vines.IMG_1559



The ivy is ready to go
The ivy is ready to go

Final Product:

Rear Windows

Statue and Ivy


Same Techniques, Different Project

With this project I gave the final piece a wash of dark green or black, then drybrush on some highlights to enhance/pull together the overall colors.  I’ve found that this can often enhance the overall effect of the ivy.


Gatehouse Tunnel


2 thoughts on “Making Convincing Ivy

  1. Pingback: Unrested souls – How to make a graveyard themed diorama base part I | daggerandbrush

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