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reedkickball

Preserving Natural Materials

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Hi guys,

 

Looking for some advice. Specifically on dealing with the preserving of natural camo.

 

Let's say you're out on a geocaching hunt, or out for a walk, and you find a piece of wood that a film canister or some other container fits in perfectly. How do you go about preserving the natural piece of camo? Does anyone have any good hints on preserving the wood?

 

And it doesn't stop at wood, how do you preserve leaves, mushrooms, or anything else that you might find in nature?

 

Thanks for your input.

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I have never even considered it. The few attempts I have seen at preservation tend to make it stand out far more than stuff left in a natural state.

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I have never even considered it. The few attempts I have seen at preservation tend to make it stand out far more than stuff left in a natural state.

 

This is true. Most any attempt by mankind to "preserve" nature, renders it more noticeable.

 

But what OP is referring to is actually hiding, by the description given. Camouflage is to place something without hiding it, so that it blends in, thereby becoming less noticeable. Camouflage is the art of making something look like what it is not!

 

Picky, I know..... but is an important difference that geocachers should be aware of. :)

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I have never even considered it. The few attempts I have seen at preservation tend to make it stand out far more than stuff left in a natural state.

 

This is true. Most any attempt by mankind to "preserve" nature, renders it more noticeable.

 

But what OP is referring to is actually hiding, by the description given. Camouflage is to place something without hiding it, so that it blends in, thereby becoming less noticeable. Camouflage is the art of making something look like what it is not!

 

Picky, I know..... but is an important difference that geocachers should be aware of. :)

 

My original intent is what Starbrand responded to. I had just wondered if there were any type of preservative that people tend to use, or what tricks they use to preserve while keeping the natural appearance. I've seen some great uses in natural camo, but I don't know if there was ever any preservative used, or whether they just let it decay. Still I hope there are some ideas that work. Maybe there aren't, but I figured I'd post online to see if there were.

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There may be, but all attempts I have seen years before (including military) result in less than good results.

Have been to a number of caches where leaves and twigs have been glued to containers. If not overdone, they seem to work well. If this is good, make sure that your source material is from the SAME LOCATION as where the hide will be placed. A mile or less can make a difference.

Have seen ammo cans completely covered by (glued-on) bark, hidden in a woodpile. Pretty good! :)

 

EDIT ADD: Maintenance is the key. Expect to replace the work in two years or less.

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee

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A couple of times I sprayed a hot borax solution on wood bridge parts before construction. It not only kills the bugs in the wood but kills bugs that try to bore in for several years. It changes the look of wood very little.

There are more effective preservatives, but they are more expensive and change the look more.

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Let's say you're out on a geocaching hunt, or out for a walk, and you find a piece of wood that a film canister or some other container fits in perfectly. How do you go about preserving the natural piece of camo? Does anyone have any good hints on preserving the wood?

 

And it doesn't stop at wood, how do you preserve leaves, mushrooms, or anything else that you might find in nature?

I was thinking of this same subject today, since there's a pile of logs from a fallen oak tree nearby -- and all of the logs are hollow. Wood will last several months without any special preservation, bark and all. And it just looks better with time, before eventually falling apart. Then go get another log.

 

Magnolia leaves are naturally shiny. Coated with varithane, they may last for years outdoors. Most other leaves won't look right when coated. I've had some luck with cloth "silk" leaves from craft stores, spraying them with a light coating of matte polyurethane. For the same amount of time & effort, you may be able to make a pretty decent-looking "mushroom" or "piece of wood" out of bondo or epoxy, which would last for many years. If people will be handling it, it's gotta be durable.

 

While I'm off the subject of preserving wood... Since a couple of strips of cheap, shiny camo duct tape can make a container vanish into the forest, simpler is better, and it often doesn't take much to make a good hide.

Edited by kunarion

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The use of natural materials without treatment can last a long time if placed in such a way that weather and other elements will have limited effect. If you can place the branch with a film canister in an area that experiences lots of moisture, rain run off, sitting on damp ground, and lots of direct sunlight expect it to rot/degrade significantly faster then the same cache placed in a sheltered way.

 

I grew up in Seattle where EVERYTHING will rot in a relatively short period of time. Since moving to Arizona, I am amazed what the dry environment does. You could hide a cache in an oak log and leave it maintenance free for over 5 years.

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Since moving to Arizona, I am amazed what the dry environment does. You could hide a cache in an oak log and leave it maintenance free for over 5 years.

 

A cow pie in the desert can last for more than TEN YEARS. Moisture is going to be a major enemy of maintaining "natural" camouflage. Some places you can't escape it, though. Most chemical protectants leave a glossy finish that renders natural materials even more noticeable.

 

I was looking for materials at the craft store recently, and noticed that the model train scenery stuff would make for excellent cache camo. It's synthetic, so it would last longer, but it looks natural 'enough' to distract your eye. And that's all you should really aim to do...distract the eye. Effective camo breaks up the 'shape' of a recognizable object to make it unrecognizable. That's why camo patterns of all types work for the military and hunters. They break up the recognizable shape of a human so it's harder to recognize. You could try the old std camo, digital camo, or the new hunter 'breakup' patterns that are based on a variety of natural patterns.

 

Trying to make something look like something it's not is a much bigger challenge, and is much more easily done when your materials are things like metal and plastic than when you try using wood and leaves. As soon as you start messing with 'natural' items, they don't look so natural anymore, so you have to figure out how to disguise your tinkering.

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Since moving to Arizona, I am amazed what the dry environment does. You could hide a cache in an oak log and leave it maintenance free for over 5 years.

 

A cow pie in the desert can last for more than TEN YEARS.

even if it doesn't[dung beetles], nobodys going to want to touch it.

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