Introduction: Cardboard Christmas Tree With Lights.
I wanted to make my mother something unique for Christmas & got the idea to make a table top Christmas tree out of primarily cardboard & cardstock. What started out as a simple idea I ended up making quite complex by added hundreds of feet of muti colored fiberoptic cabling & hundreds of feet of glitter glue of various colors. I started the project on 12/8 and finished it 12/18 putting an average of 4 hours a day of work in. Tools & materials; Safety glasses, soldering iron, hot glue, elmers glue, gel pens, transparent tape, scissors, exacto knife, electrical tape, red/green/white transparent paper (like gift wrapping filler paper), hole punch, glitter glue, cardboard, cardstock, fiber optic cables of different colors, spray paint, craft sticks, foam sheets, 100ohm resistor, 1 green led, 6 white led's, brass paper tab holders, pencil & a compass for marking all the towers of circles to cut out. I took plenty of pictures so they will be explaining the process better than words in the following steps.
Step 1: Cutting the Circles for the Tower & Painting Silver.
I start by figuring how tall I want the tree & then figure how many layers of the tower I want & how far apart they will need to be. I use a cardboard straw for the center post which a green led will be wired through to the tip. The cardboard disc will need to be half an inch apart. I cut out the discs & thumbtack them down to cardboard to take outside to spray paint silver.
Step 2: Making the Battery Box & Wiring in on Off Switch & Led/resistor
I powered the 7 led's in my tree with 2 C batteries which equates to 3 volts. This is a bit much for my green led for the tip of the tree so I used a 100 ohm resistor soldering it to the + leg of the green led.My 6 white led's came from a strand of those dollar tree halloween led's so they were already wired & made to operate at 3 volts. I made the battery box using craft sticks, hot glue, brass tab terminals, ink pen spring cut in half to hold tabs firmly against batteries. Refer to pictures to see exactly what I did.
Step 3: Installing Led's & Fiber Optics.
4 of the white led's would be to light the central part of the tree which would shine through the hole punched size red and green transparent paper levels of the tree. The other 2 white led's would light the 100's of strands of fiber optics. I used a cardboard straw cut a couple of inches for each to slide each of those 2 led's & then placed the fiber optic strands inside securing them with black electrical tape.
Step 4: Making the Base.
I spray painted some cardstock silver & measured how large it would need to be to cover the circular base. I used hole punch to make holes at measure distances apart & cut little pieces of the transparent gift bag filler paper & taped down each piece. I later used elmer's glue to do the rest of the tower sections but either works great.Next on the upper level of the base I wanted to pen some shadow scenes on white transparent paper for the 1st level of the tree which the led's would be directly behind. I cut out strip of cardstock & used exacto knife to cut the window out the shape I wanted & taped it in place. I drew several different Christmas images with black gel pen that I used for various windows around the upper base. I used corrugated cardboard rings for center to hot glue the window panels to. I used the same basic method for each tower section of the tree as it went up.
Step 5: 2nd Level Above Christmas Shadow Scenes.
Next level up I wanted something to break/contrast the shadow scenes & upper tower sections and opted for a basket weave design. I went ahead and spray painted cardstock red and green which would not only be used for this but the alternating red and green tower sections which would come later. I used elmers glue all clear to hold the ring in place above the basket weave level which is why I needed to use weight to hold it down level til glue dried.
Step 6: 3rd Levels & Beyond.
I decided how far apart to make each tower & cut 1/2" strips of cardstock from the red and green pieces I sprayed earlier. I then used hole punch to do the same procedure I did on the base. I had to cut several rings of corrugated cardboard (2 per level) & double them up to give the 1/2" strips plenty of surface area to adhere to the hot glue as well as allowing me to easily make them round & keep everything straight as I went up. I used a thumbtack to make small holes to run my fiber optic cabling through in between each of the hole punched holes. After running the fiber optic strands through each hole I would use elmers glue all to go around each so they won't pull out from within & then I'd go on up the tower doing each level the same.
Step 7: Upper Levels.
When I reached the upper levels I began cutting rings with hole punches out of corrugated cardboard to keep the fiber optic cables color separated to make it easier to mix the colors around the upper tower sides. Since the light from the bottom would not be very effective shining through windows up on the last couple of levels I just used all the fiber optic strands left to put far more of them on each of those levels. I also hole punched the center to run the straw & center top star led through to get it all straight and centered.
Step 8: Making a Base.
After doing lots of detail finishing work such as clipping off any excess fiber optic cabling, & adding 8 different colors of glitter glue to decorate it all over, I began constructing a base. Originally I wasn't going to have a base but since the tree really had no good place to grasp to lift I knew a solid base was necessary. I sandwiched 3 layers of corrugated cardboard together using hot glue & cutting out the center the diameter of the base of the tree. This would still allow me easy access to the on/off switch & the battery compartment. I used craft sticks for the sides hot gluing all of them firmly in place to a crafting sticks frame. I used foam sheets to cut 3 different sized rings for the skirt of the tree & painted the upper base white. I cut out 4 stars for each corner of the base & the upper star for the tip. I then decorated all of it with glitter glue of various colors.
Step 9: Finally Finished.
Hopefully my mom will proudly display this each Christmas we might be fortunate enough to be blessed with in the coming years. I plan on trying to find or make a clear display case to go over it to keep the cat as well as humans from knocking it over because with 40 hours into it I'd probably cry if something happened to it.