Juniper Preparation Tests

Juniper in office (note the Wilson paintings on the wall)

Juniper in freezer with the birds!

As I noted previously, I collected three small branches of the juniper in Stony Creek over the weekend.  I brought them into work yesterday and I noticed that a number of needles had come off in the bag.   I put each branch in a vise and painted thinned latex rubber on the base of each needle (front and back).  This is to hold the needles on so they won’t fall off as they dry.  To thin latex, I use ammonia and a little water, so it reeks more so than usual.  Whatever you do, don’t sniff the latex!

I am testing how to dry the branches.  Evergreens dry differently and I am hopeful that the short-needled juniper will dry without distortion.  I have dried long-needled white pine and ponderosa pine and the results were not good.  The needles twisted and distorted as they dried, looking nothing like the live tree.  In these cases, I had to freeze-dry the branches and embed the needles in sand to hold them in place while they dried.

I have taken my three branches and placed them in different places to see what might work best for drying them.  I have hung one over my desk and will let it dry in the open.  The other two are in freezers-one in my bench freezer (not self-defrosting) where all my frozen birds are and the other in our museum’s deep freezer which has a running temperature of -30º C.  I plan to remove the frozen branches in mid-January to see how they look.

If all goes smoothly with the drying, all I will have to do is paint them since they will eventually turn brown.  Painting will be tricky though because the upper part of the needles is a deep green and the underside is a paler green with a light strip down each needle.  I doubt I will be able to air brush the color since the needles come off the stems in a radial fashion.  It looks to be a lot of hand painting!  It will give me something to do while I’m in the exhibit.

Explore posts in the same categories: Collecting Foreground

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