- Wood glue (I prefer Gorilla glue wood glue as it is very fast drying and dries clear)
- Cork scraps
- Glitter (lots of glitter)
- Bamboo skewer or chopstick
- Base for the tree (can be wood, cork, old pie tin, anything you can drill into)
- Bead or something fun as the topper (with a large enough hole to go over the skewer)
- Spray glue (I prefer Super 77)
- Drill for drilling base and holes in cork (can use an awl for the cork as it’s so soft)
- Scissors (not the good fabric scissors)
There is just something about a Christmas Tree, the smell of a real one, finding the perfect size and shape for the room or rooms. Or unpacking the artificial tree that’s pre-lit and just getting to focus on decorating and not having to fight about the lights (unless, of course, one of the pre-strung strands has mysteriously quit working, but that’s another blog post or couples counseling).
But sometimes you want something smaller, perfect for an RV, or a student or family member away from home. Or, sometimes, you just wanted to make something with your own two hands and get the glitter all over the house and the pets. Why is it always the black pets that find and roll in the glitter? Or is that just my cat?
And then there’s the issue of sustainability we have been hearing so much about. And let’s face it, it’s hard to be eco-friendly at the holidays. All those boxes that wrapping paper is an endless waste. So, we’ve come up with something for the crafter that can’t throw anything away just in case you need it someday (you know who you are). This is your time to shine. Pull out those someday this will come in handy boxes, and let’s make some trees, a tree farm, a whole forest!
We used cork scrap from die-cut placemats and coasters in this project. The fun thing about using cork is that it looks like gingerbread cookies, and there are so many different colors and patterns available now. You can get the kits on the website to build your own. You can also add in some scrap fabric for different colors and textures.
Gather your chosen materials, including your base, and let’s get to work….
Start by choosing your base.
I have used everything from fallen down tree limbs cut up to cute small custard tart pans, wooden thread spools, child’s wooden blocks; the sky is the limit here. As long as you can drill into it (and it’s yours and you’re not drilling into someone else’s treasure, your good)
Take into consideration how tall you want the final project to be and ensure the base will support the final desired height.
Drill a hole large enough for your skewer.
This step is now where the bamboo skewer comes in, or all of those unused chopsticks you’ve been hoarding cause someday they may forget to include them in the meal. Take your base and drill a hole large enough for the skewer. You can have some fun if you have a larger base and drill off-center and set up a little wintery scene around the tree or just have some snow (glitter) on the ground around the tree. You can even do a little grouping of various sized trees on the same block as a centerpiece if you would like. Once you make those decisions and drill your holes, pop your skewer or another support piece in the holes and use the wood glue to secure.
Select your starting piece.
Now find the biggest scraps that you have that make sense for the size of the bottom of your tree. Drill or use an awl to make a hole in the cork or other material.
I like to use roughly triangular shapes and drill in the center to get two “branches” in one layer towards the bottom of the piece. Apply glue between each layer to add stability. Just a dab near the center support will do the trick.
Here I used alternating styles of cork in layers to make it look like the tree has some snow on it and for some fun texture.
You can see where I placed the holes to get an irregular, more organic shape for the tree. Don’t worry at first about shaping; just start by getting the layers built up.
Once the tree starts forming, I take scissors to the material and trim it in place to get the final shape I desire.
About midway up the tree, I start precutting triangles to get those smaller “branches” correctly sized.
You can start by going a bit larger in cuts and still drilling in the center. Don’t worry if some are a bit shorter or longer. You can still do final trimming at the end, and I always leave mine a bit irregular. They look more natural that way, we’re going for perfectly imperfect, just like nature.
One trick as your triangles get smaller towards the top is to drill your holes into larger pieces and then trim down to size, so you don’t split the cork or other material as you get down to the wee bits on top.
Coming to the top!
Make sure to leave a bit of your skewer or chopstick exposed so that you can choose your topper! I use large holed beads, cork balls, stars, etc. Have fun with what you want to finish it off with.
Finishing it off!
And now for the spray glue and glitter! I prefer to use Super 77 or, as my one friend labels the cans, “the good stuff”. Spray your tree liberally, preferably out of doors, so as not to annoy the people you live with and glue everything insight to each other. So bring your tree outside and set it up on some leftover cardboard and spray away. And then the glitter……I like to use iridescent paper making confetti from Arnold Grummer paper making supplies. It’s a bit more flexible and just has the most wonderful opalescence to it.
Have fun and experiment. Please message us with any questions and happy treeing!
Kristine Kennedy is an artist specializing in reused materials. More of her work can be found on her website.