I saw the cute Easter tree decorations back when it was Easter time, and mid August, I finally decided to make one. As we all know, October is just around the corner and what is in October? Halloween is almost here; ghouls, ghosts, and werewolves, all around spooky stuff. A cute little Easter tree wouldn't fit the theme at all! So I made plans for a spooky Halloween tree just for the occasion!
Here is how to make an entire tree decoration from scratch. You can even make it an any season tree decoration with a little tweaking.
Step 1: Materials Needed for Entire Project
( ) = explanations
* = optional
~ Supplies for the tree's skeleton:
Thick wire (doesn't matter what thickness just has to hold up and also be thicker than the thin wire)
Thin wire (again doesn't matter what thickness just has to be a little thinner)
Pliers (has to be able to cut and bend the wire)
Pencil (this will help shape the branches out of the thin wire)
Wooden Broom stick (You need this to shape the thick wire for the trunk of your tree)
*drill (for drilling a hole in the top of the broomstick so you can keep the wire still.)
~ Base for the tree to stand on
A board (fairly long, wide, and 1/2 - 1 inch thickness)
Drill (so you can put a hole for the wire-tree skeleton to be put in place.)
Measuring tape (measure the board to cut if it is too large.)
~To cover the tree skeleton and the base.
3 buckets of water
tray (for the tree to set on to dry)
sticks (to prop the tree up as it dries)
Plaster of paris
~Painting the tree and base
Base coat spray paint
Water proofing paint
Black primer spray paint
Mossy green spray paint
large sponge brush
dried moss (the kind for floral arrangements)
dried Spanish moss
Hot glue gun (or some other adhesive)
*glue sticks (if you used a glue gun)
Acrylics- Red, white, black, different shades of brown
Paint brushes (medium for base coating, small for detail)
Knife (you need to cut the Styrofoam)
Step 2: Making the Wire-tree Skeleton
Take your broom stick and drill a hole at the top if you choose to. Start wrapping the wire by inserting the end into the hole you just drilled into the broom stick. Wrap the wire tightly and uniformly around the stick until you reach the desired length of your tree trunk. Snip the wire at the wire spool. You can remove the trunk from the stick, one of two ways. Either by removing the end you put into the hole at the top then sliding it off or cutting it at the top then sliding it off.
Now to shape the branches. Take a pencil and the thin wire and use the same strategy, but instead of drilling a hole in the pencil, hold the wire with your hand. Leave a length of wire at the front and the end of the branch.
To form the tree skeleton you must twist the ends of the branches around the loops of the trunk. After you have the number of your desired branches attached to the trunk start forming the other end of the branches. Take the end of that wire and make two hills and a valley shape in the middle and slightly bend these upwards at the top of the shapes. This is so you can hang little spiders or bat decorations off your tree after it is completed.
Step 3: Preparing the Base and Mounting the Tree on It
You don't need to cut your board if you like the size. If it is too big, measure a template out on a big piece of paper; like an old newspaper. Cut this as straight as you can on a table saw.
Drill a hole on one side with a drill, a bit off centered so when you put the wire end of the trunk through the hole it will be towards the middle of that side.
Sand it down making sure there are no splintered edges and clean it off.
Now it's time to water proof so it doesn't rot from being wet from paper mache, or the plaster cloth. Take your base coat and follow directions on the can, take the time to wait for it to dry because you want to do it right and not quickly. You run the chance of messing up and having to redo it if you don't take the required time. Now when that is done drying use the waterproofing paint and spay it down as even as you can. Do the same for this one, and let it dry thoroughly.
Put the wire end of the tree through the hole and bend it down on the bottom. Then position your tree on the top.
Step 4: Stabilizing the Branches and Trunk
As you may notice after attaching the branches to the wire trunk they may droop or move out of place a bit. We are going to fix this now.
Put your tree in a work area that you don't mind getting messy because when this mixture gets on something and dries it is hard to get off.
Take one bucket of water, and put enough flour in this to make it a bit thick, but still fairly thin.
Rip you paper in strips and keep it handy just in case you need more strips.
Now put the strips in the bucket with the mache mixture, (flour and water)
Now take some strips and take excess mix off of them. Put these around the base of the tree to stabilize it and up near the branches. Also put the strips around the branches to fix them in the places that you want them.
Set your tree up somewhere so it will be out of harms way while it is drying. It can take a day or two to fully dry.
At this point you can still bend the wires still showing in different positions that you would like them to be in. I would wait to bend the wires after the papier mache dries.
Step 5: Plaster Clothing the Tree and Base
This step took a lot of plaster cloth, which is usually bought at crafting stores. Usually known as EZ Form or something like that.
Cut the plaster cloth in strips making sure not to get them wet unless you are going to use them. If you get the roll wet and when it dries then it is ruined, you can not re use it..
Take the second bucket of water and dip the plaster cloths one at a time, after you dip one wrap it around the tree. Rub it smooth so you can't see the cloth pattern as well. Keep doing this until you have your entire tree covered and smoothed out. You may have to take breaks and wait for the tree to stabilize several times so it doesn't collapse. Cover the entire base, even the bottom, as you are working with the tree. I cut a Styrofoam ring in pieces to make legs for the stand and covered them in plaster cloth as well. While you are covering the tree in plaster cloth, you can also make different features to put on the tree. I made a little hole in the tree so it looks older, and I also added roots around its base. I also made a mound by the tree for a grave site. If the tree is bending over too much use a stick to prop it up more until it dries thoroughly.
Step 6: Further Smoothing
Now make a mixture of plaster of paris and water. Use this to smooth out the base and the tree. After it dries don't bother sanding this because it does still need to be a little lumpy for tree and ground detail. Let this dry.
Step 7: Priming and Painting
After it dried I glued on a gravestone I made out of Styrofoam. Then spayed the entire project with black primer; including the legs.
Take your mossy green paint and spray the tree lightly with it for moss accents.
Also spay around the base and the gravestone for the same effect.
Now paint the tree with acrylics after it dries.
Take the three shades of brown side by side and dab them with the sponge brush. Dab the color onto the tree and cover the whole tree and its roots, while leaving some green showing. Make sure the paint job has a mottled appearance. Let this dry then use black and the dark brown and dab spots of the tree again to make it look darker.
Let this dry then spray more green paint over top of the acrylic layer to make the green stand out more. Don't spray heavy; just a spot here and there.
Step 8: Preparing the Extras
There are two things you have to make and paint in this project.
Take the polymer clay and form little mushroom caps and stems. Set the cap on the stem and put on a cookie sheet. Now make some more caps but this time make the stem longer and put a skirt around the top. Play the caps on top of these now. Now form the shelf fungi by making a flat pizza shape and smooshing one end a little. Cook all of these as directed on the package. After the cook and cool. Take the red, white, and light brown paint. Cover the stem in light brown and the cap in red and after the cap dries a bit spot it with white. Then the mushrooms with the skirt do the same with the stem but paint the cap with a mixture of light and medium brown paint the let this try, and streak it with dark brown. For the shelf fungi paint the base light brown and put rings of medium and the overlap that with dark brown.
Take the extra Styrofoam and cut it rigidly to make rocks. Then take black and white paint and mix them partially together and dab it on the makeshift rocks. Let these dry. You can also use poly clay for small stones. Make the stones, cook, let them cool, then paint them with the mix of black and white paint. Give all the stones a mottled appearance. Give the same look to the gravestone.
Step 9: Time to Glue!
Plug in a hot glue gun and get ready to glue a lot. Or ready whatever adhesive you choose to use.
Take the Spanish moss and cut pieces off of it to hot glue onto your semi-complete tree.
Glue it rather sparsely don't group it all in one place. Then spray the moss with some of the green spray paint to give it a slimy look. Add some fiber fill to the Spanish moss after the paint drys but you don't have to glue it.
Now take the dried floral moss and start gluing it to the base around the tree and around its roots and incorporate some Spanish moss on the base as well. After you cover the base start gluing the extras on the tree and base. Glue the rocks in random places as well as the mushrooms. Glue the shelf fungi on the tree trunk and the fungi with the skirt amongst the roots. Let the glue set.
Place the legs on a surface and apply hot glue or epoxy to them and then place the base over them and let the adhesive set up.
Step 10: Finished!
Now the tree decoration you created should be finished! You can even hang small treat bags or paper decor in its branches.
I hope to see your tree creations soon!