Introduction: European Style Faux Feather Tree

Supplies:

Fake Christmas Tree with removable branches
Pliable green garland 
Twinkle Lights
Other Tree Lights
Shiny medium sized glass ball ornaments (preferably mercury glass balls)
Victorian Postcards, or other Victorian style ornaments
Other Ornaments

This is my first Instructable Tutorial, which is why it is a simple one.  I always wanted a Victorian style feather Tree like the one Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had.  The feather trees That I could find were either too small, too flimsy, or too expensive.  I was trying to put an old Christmas Tree together that was missing a few branches when it occurred to me that I could make my own Victorian style feather tree by removing some of the branches!

Step 1: Assemble the Tree

1. Set up your fake tree with all of the branches on the table. (or on the floor, depending upon the size of your tree)

Step 2: Flatten the Bottom Row of Branches

2.  Flatten out the bottom row of branches so that they look like a flat shelf.

Step 3: Remove the Next Row of Branches Up

3. Remove the row of branches above the bottom row of branches.

Step 4: Remove Every Other Row of Branches

4. Flatten the row of branches above the row you just removed.  
Remove every other row of branches until you reach the top 1/3 of the tree.

Step 5: Shape the Top 1/3 of the Tree

5. Shape branches of the top 1/3 of tree slightly upwards

Step 6: Wrap the Green Garland Around the Tree Trunk/ Pole

6. Wrap green pliable garland around the trunk/ pole of tree to cover up where the rows of branches were removed.

Step 7: Add the Inside Twinkle Lights

7. Now it is time to put some twinkle up against the trunk/ pole of the tree, starting at the bottom and going all the way up to the top.  I like to use amber colored twinkle lights that slowly fade in and out.  They look like fairies flying around the tree.  You can use any color twinkle lights, or multi colored lights.  The amber twinkle lights add an antique warmth to the tree. 

Step 8: Add Lights to the Middle and Outside of the Branches

8. Now it is time to add lights to the branches and ends of the branches.  You can add more twinkle lights, or larger bulbs (like C7 bulbs).  You can add foil reflectors, or bulb covers to your lights for more impact.

Step 9: Add Shiny Ball Ornaments to Inside of the Tree

9. Now it is time to start adding ornaments up against the tree trunk/ pole.  I use antique pink Shiny Bright mercury ornaments.  Any shiny pastel color ornaments will work to diffuse the twinkle lights softly throughout the tree.  Pastels will look more Victorian than other colors.  This step is important to give an overall antique look to your tree.  At first, it may look as if you are adding too many ornaments to one place on the tree.  It won't look that way when you are finished.

Step 10: Add Victorian Post Cards

10. Victorian Postcard ornaments come next.  Why Victorian postcards?  Because postcards are the cheapest Victorian images I could easily find.  You can use the entire post card, or glue the central image to cut out foil on a doily and trim with gold paint and glitter, as I did.  You can also buy fancy Victorian Dresden Paper ornaments to hang on your tree.  The ornaments need to have some sparkle in order to function and look "right."

Step 11: Add Other Ornaments

11. Add the other ornaments to the tree.  Don't be afraid to re-purpose things as ornaments.  Your ornaments do not need to be expensive to look Victorian or good.  You can make fabric or paper cones and fill them with candy or poi pore.  Ribbons and bows make excellent and period feeling decorations.  Small embroidered and needlepoint pieces make lovely ornaments.  

The fairies are refrigerator magnets with glitter and ornament hooks glued on.
The Belsnickle Santa is a floral pik.
The Animal Crackers are a real box of Animal Crackers. (Whoever finds the pickle ornament gets the cookies.)
Pine cones and acorns can be gilded for homemade decorations.
I made a bunch of clothespin people including Darcy and Elizabeth.  
One of several miniature silver tea pots is shown with the happy couple.

Step 12: Garland Time!

For most people, garland is the last step of decorating.  I like to use foil star garlands because they are shiny, look Victorian, and are inexpensive. My star garland looks like golden thread in the picture, with stars spaced out every so often. You could also use popcorn or paper chain garland.  Beaded garland would look fantastic, but it tends to be very expensive.  I never have had the patience to make beaded garland.

Step 13: To Tinsel or Not to Tinsel?

Tinsel made from real silver would complete an opulent Victorian Christmas Tree.  I love tinsel, but it is not a good idea to use it around young children or pets, so we don't use it.  Plastic tinsel attracts static electricity, so it will not hang properly.  Real tinsel is reportedly available from The Vermont Country Store and Blumchen & Company.  I have never tried either of these tinsels, so I can not attest to their authenticity.  The picture below is a relatively new "antique" package of silver foil tinsel made with tin and lead.  Larger glass, or plastic icicles ornaments may be used in place of silver foil tinsel.  Your Victorian style Feather Christmas Tree should look lush and full now!

Step 14: Make It Your Own!

Remember that a Christmas Tree is a work in progress.  It should reflect your life through the years, changing as your life changes.  If you can't buy ornaments, make them.  I cut out cookie cutter shapes and iced them with glitter for one friend's first tree.  I put another friend's Matchbox Car Collection on his tree and retired his mismatched set of odd ornaments.  In my opinion, the Matchbox Car ornament set wouldn't go with the Victorian Feather Tree. You, however, need to do what works for you and your family.  

Please let me know if you have any questions, or need some help or ideas.

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