Step 1: Gather Your Supplies and Tools
The amount of some of your supplies will vary depending upon how big you make your tree. I will list quantities of some of these for the tree I built in the pictures.
3 x 9 foot bundles of branching, bendable garland... the kind with short 3-4 inch branches.
1 x 18 foot piece of straight, plain "tinsel garland". I used about 10-12 feet. It needs to have the same color as the branching garland so it will match.
1 x wreath hanger (this will be partially visible) I used black to be less noticable.
1 x roll of wide masking tape.
1 x spool of 24 gauge green floral wire
1 x pack or spool of 18 gauge floral wire
1 x piece of foam core board or heavy cardboard (a 1 foot x 3 feet piece should be sufficient)
wire cutters or needle-nose pliers with cutters.
a knife (xacto, utility, etc. - something sharp for the foam core)
I really recommend eye protection while working with this fine wire. Throughout the project it will be sticking out in the air at eye level. 24 guage wire is not good for your eyeball. Also if you are not experienced and comfortable working with fine wire, you may want to wear gloves or you'll end up with bleeding fingertips.
You also need a door.
Step 2: Prepare the Hanger
Prepare your hanger. You can simply place your wreath hanger over the door or you can make a modification. I wanted my hanger shorter so the top of my tree would be higher. This is optional.
Use pliers to bend the hanger where you want the top of the tree to hang and use tin-snips (or a grinder or something appropriate) to cut off the extra metal.
Step 3: Prepare the Base - Cutting and Folding
You need to create the base for the tree. I constructed a rounded frame that will tape to the door to provide a stable structure while building the tree and hold the tree when opening and closing the door. Foam core seems ideal but a heavy cardboard should work fine.
I held the foam core up to the door and eyeballed the width.
Then draw the shape of the base on the foam core. Remember that the base will stick out from the door. It could be a true half round semicircle, but a flattened half-elliptical shape seemed better. The curved portion needs to have an additional squared portion to form a flap. If you look at all the images you will see the appropriate shape.
Now to create some braces to keep the whole thing squared up.
Cut 3 rectangles about 2 inches longer than the width of the curved piece. Then create an approximately 2 inch flap on each rectangle by carefully cutting through one side of the paper on the foam core and folding back toward the other side. the cut an angle off the other end of the rectangle. Also cut a 3 small strips from some scrap to insert in the crevices of the folds on the brace pieces.
Step 4: Prepare the Base - Tape!
Fold up the flap on the base piece to 90 degrees then attach the longest brace piece in the center as shown in the photos. Start with a little tape just for positioning. Place the other two brace pieces evenly. Then go crazy with tape. The more tape you use, the more stable and strong this will be in the end.
After the braces are secure, use 2 layers of tape to reinforce the front edge of the curve.
Now use a needle or drill bit or a heavy piece of wire to poke 12 evenly placed holes along the curved edge. Space them back about 1/4th to 1/2 an inch. Then poke 4 sets of 2 holes in the middle of each section between the braces. (see the diagram for spacing)
If you make the base substantially bigger or smaller you may need to alter the number of holes to accommodate your garland.
Once the base is completely taped and strong and holes are poked, thread an 8 inch piece of 24 gauge wire through each of the 12 edge holes, and twist them off about 3 or 4 turns.
Step 5: Starting to Build - First Piece
Find the end of a piece of bendy garland. Orient it so that the branches point downward and twist the wire nub around the hook of the hanger. Lightly stretch the garland to one of the center two holes on the base. (I built the left half of the tree first.) Fluff up the branches on the garland near the level of the base to expose the core wire of the garland. Twist the thin wire attached to the base around the garland wire to secure it to the base (10 to 12 tight twists will do. Cut off the excess 24 gauge wire. Cut the garland about 1 to 2 inches below the level of the twisted wire.
This is the basic pattern for securing all the branches. There are a few tweaks as we go into the next steps.
Step 6: Second Piece
The second branch is attached not to the hanger, but to the first branch. The spacing of the length of the branches is approximate, but 1/6 spacing seems to work. If you are using a fresh, uncut piece of garland it comes with a wirey end for attachment. If not you have to use a heavier 18 gauge wire to make an end to attach number 2 to number 1.
At the top end of the 2nd piece of garland take a piece of 18 gauge wire and make several (3-4) wraps around the wire 1-2 inches from the top. then twist the 18 gauge wire to secure it and bend the long end upward. Then use the 18 gauge wire pigtail to secure the second piece to the first garland piece by twisting it around the core wire of piece number one about 1/6th of the way down.
Secure and cut the bottom of piece number two at the next hole to the base.
Before rushing ahead to piece number 3, there is one little extra.
Step 7: Back Fluff
The way things are going, the inside of the tree will bee completely hollow, but then there is the danger of seeing right through it. to make it a little fuller, we will add some back fluff.
Take the plain "tinsel garland" and find the bottom (where the needles point down) and use a piece of 24 gauge wire, twisted and wound, to make a pigtail. Then thread the wire down one and back up the other of the inner set of two holes. Twist it around itself to secure it to the bottom.
Pull the garland up and cut a the level where piece number 1 and 2 meet. Make another 24 gauge pigtail at the top of the garland piece and secure it to the bendy garland where number one and number 2 meet.
Step 8: Halfway Done
Repeat to finish the other half of the tree.
Step 9: Finish Up
Just like an artificial tree, our little free needs to be fluffed. Start in the middle top and work down and out and flip all the little bendy branches out and toward the front to make the tree fuller. After all the branches are fluffed, pull the center two pieces forward and tuck the 2nd two pieces in and behind them, then tuck the 3rd pieces behind the 2nd pieces and so on to make the center stand out more than the edges.
Once the tree looks good and full and thick... decorate!