Old Sweetwater

Old Sweetwater

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How To Make A Primitive Tree

I was asked to show how I made my primitive (feather-type) Christmas tree for FREE. I want to say, there are beautiful primitive trees available in stores and online.  Mine is not made of feathers. I wanted something sturdy and for zero cost.   I also could not find any tutorials, so this was my last year's "trial by fire" and has many imperfections.  IT TOOK THREE HOURS TO MAKE IT.  I apologize for non-fancy fixed up photos.  This is a longer-than-normal post for me.  Remember,  click on the photos below for larger image. 
You'll need:

  • green silk garland that has a metal core
  • good quality heavy-duty wire cutting pliers  
  • measuring tape
  • sharp, but not expensive scissors because you may accidentally catch the wire core while trimming
  • gloves to protect your hand from getting scraped by the wire
  • optional duct tape - I know, but it works and it will be covered!
  • brown floral tape or plain brown paper such as a grocery sack and hotglue gun
  • a sturdy stand for the dowel - I used a metal container filled with landscape stones. Other ideas - large bowl, crockery or other container filled with cat litter** or heavy iron ornate tree stand...
  • 1 wooden dowel 3/4" or so in diameter,  4 feet long   See Collage
My garland was composed of shorter pieces of silk greenery wrapped and entwined around the main silk-covered wire. Remove each shorter piece by cutting or simply pulling the short pieces out.  (greenery photo 1 under collage photo)    If you find your garland is braided, undo braiding and separate about a 3 foot section to begin with.

Tip: it is better to make each cut LONGER because you can always trim away.
Tier 1 - bottom tier. CAREFULLY using your wire-cutting pliers, cut six -12" long pieces from the main trunk. Straighten. CAREFULLY trim the greenery down to about 1/4 inch of the metal center - it's a little messy, but this is what makes it primitive looking.  You should have six pipe-cleaner looking stems at least 12" long.  Set aside.  Photo 2 under collage shows a less expensive branch with the top half trimmed short and a plush garland that I used before trimming down.
Now cut twelve pieces that are 6" long. Straighten and trim greenery. These will be referred to as "end stems."  Photos 3.
About 1 1/2" from the tip of each 12" piece, attach one of the 6" pieces by holding one end, looping around the branch once and pull, straightening out other end. Make sure its fairly even on either side.  About 2" in from the first set, attach a second set of end stems onto branches (as shown). It resembles a old TV antenna. Photo 4
Tier 2  Cut six 10" long pieces. Straighten. Trim. Cut twelve - 5" long end stem pieces. Straighten. Trim.  Attach first end stems about 1 1/2" from outer tip. Move in another 1" or so and twist on second end stems. Lay aside. 
Tier 3  Cut six - 6" long branches and only six - 4" end stems. Straighten and trim. Attach one end stem per branch about 1 1/2" from end in the same manner as above. 
Tier 4  Cut six -  4 1/2" long branches and six - 3 1/2" end stems. Straighten and trim.  Attach each end stem about 1 1/2" from end of branch. 
Tier 5  Cut six 4" long branches. Straighten and trim. Do not cut any end stems.
Tier 6 (top) Cut six 3" long branches. Straighten and trim. Do not cut any end stems.
Prepare:  Bend each branch end, opposite of stem end, as follows: Tier 1 bend each branch down 3 inches. Tier 2 bend down 2 inches.  Tier 3 bend 1 1/2 inches.  Tiers 4-6 bend down 1 inch.  photo 5 under collage 
Attach Branches: About 18" from bottom of dowel, duct tape the six - 12" branch bent-sections onto dowel, spacing evenly. Don't worry about the nub or bump now. 

Attach Tier 2 about 6-7" up from Tier 1.  Continue up the dowel spacing Tiers 3 through 6 about 4" apart vertically.
Wrap entire dowel with brown floral wrap which sticks to itself as it's stretched...or use wrinkled brown paper torn into narrow uneven strips. Do this however is easiest for you to cover dowel. CAREFULLY hot-glue the paper around dowel. 
This hides the stems and resembles bark. You can also dry brush some blackish-brown paint on the paper to give it a bark look (the messier the better).
Another idea is to cover the dowel with grayish lichen or Birch bark! If you used the bent branch method, you can "build" up the rest of the dowel to be even with the bump caused by branches by using more paper in between tiers. I didn't, but will if I remake this tree. 
Secure tree in container. **If using cat litter fill, put tree dowel in container. Add cat litter until full. Add water to the litter, which hardens the clay. Push on litter until dowel is firmly in place!
Hang vintage ornaments (which i don't have any of yet) and enjoy the fruit of your labor!  This was my first attempt, and so I put icicles on it (not shown) --- icicles hide all imperfections. *wink*

If you have a question or suggestion, please feel  free to email me.


Andrea said...

Thank you!!
Blessings and prayers,

Cheryl ~ ZanyMayd said...

What a Fabulous Tree ~ Thank You for Sharing....
Merry Christmas to You

Anne Marie said...

this is awesome.....thanks!

and your comment was so sweet about the cake........merry Christmas! to you......

Victorian at Heart said...

It is so much more fun and special when you place an item you made in your home such as your primitive tree. What a great job and thank you for the instructions. I hope to try next year. Thanks for your inspiration.

the wild raspberry said...

adorable...thanks for sharing!

Vanessa said...

I love this idea I think I will try to make one if I can squeeze a little extra time out of my day.

Merry Christmas

Florence said...

Thanks for coming and seeing me in blog land. I love your feather tree, I am off to buy supplies. Thanks for sharing. Florence


How clever, and so generous of you to provide the tutorial. Your tree looks just like the old ones - very pretty! ~ Angela

Suz said...

I'll chime in.....beautiful

Carole~Maynard Greenhouse said...

I am so empressed with this tree. You are too modest it came out great. I would love to try it but it would have to be an after Christmas project. Seems time consuming but I sure do have the supplies!!!!

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

What a fabulous post. I love your tree. Your tutorial was perfect. I've saved this for a project for next year. Thank you so much for sharing.. Thank you for swinging in and saying hello.. Pop in any 'ole time... I too live in Missouri...it is sooo very nice to meet you...hugs ~lynne~

I Purr-Furr to Craft said...

Love this tree and tutorial, Very very cool!

Growin' with it said...

hi janean! thank you for stopping by my spot! i am SO not a very cratfie person, but this looks something i actually could do. thanks for sharing.

~nice to meetcha! ☺

koralee said...

Wow...you amaze me! This tree is so so lovely. Thank you for sharing..May the rest of your weekend be filled with warm blessings as you get ready to celebrate Christmas day.

Embellish-Vintage Home Embellishments said...

Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!!

Elyse said...

wow! how super cool is this tree and you for making it!

thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog. very very appreciated!

happiest holidays from snowy RI!


Stephanie Lynn said...

This is simply adorable! I love it and the fact it's hand-made is even better. Very clever and thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays!

WoolenSails said...

Great little tree. I have been thinking of ways to make them, the easiest and fastest way too;) I saw one done with boa yarn that was really nice, now if i can find a prim boa color.


Marsha (Sassy Mini Dolls) said...

I just love this tree! I've been wanting one forever! I have the perfect garland to make this with for next year! It's on our stair railing now but it was going to be retired after this Christmas but now it has been repurposed!

Thank you for this wonderful tutorial!

Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas!


TinaTx said...

Thanks so much for posting this! Obviously I didn't get around to it for this year, but I will be giving it a shot before next Christmas!
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

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Michelle Fleenor said...

I love it you have so much talent!! Blessings

Michelle Fleenor said...

Love it

Michelle Fleenor said...

I love it you have so much talent!! Blessings