Every Christmas I look for something unique and handmade to make my mom for Christmas. She has a standing order for crochet hats, but each Christmas I look for something special that will be a surprise.
Annie used to sell her little Christmas trees but kindly offered instructions, once she discontinued them from her inventory. She took dried caspia, dabbed it in a bit of glue and inserted it into florist’s foam to create a natural and realistic evergreen tree. Ah, perfect for my special hand made Christmas present for mom.
So off to the craft store. Annie’s instructions mentioned taking as much as two bundles to make a single tree. Eeek, at $4.99 a bundle it seemed a bit steep to make the single little Christmas tree I had in mind. So, I purchased one bundle and a bundle of dried green flowers that looked like a single baby’s breath flower on a long stem which was a little less at $3.99.
I did like most of us do and started making my Christmas tree from memory only to realize that the original instructions created an evergreen tree about 9 inches tall – way too tall for Mom’s little village – her houses aren’t even 9 inches tall.
Also, every time I tried to squeeze my man-sized fingers in between the branches there was this tell-tale cracking noise as pieces of the branches below snapped off. Not good and bound to get only worse as I worked my way up the tree.
So, I put my failed Christmas tree with only one layer of caspia aside and started on a much smaller one using just the flowers.
This is a project that takes more than a bit of patience and a gentle touch but one that comes out oh-so-pretty.
I would also suggest since there are so many nice looking and cheap store-bought Christmas village trees available that this project be reserved for someone who will appreciate the effort and like a tree made from natural materials.
Working with the flowers was fussy. Just separating the stems from each other took as much or more time than the actual tree building. When I finally thought to put the bunch I was working with into a tall drinking glass it became much easier and quicker.
Major lessons learned from working with these flowers:
1. If the stem is broken or bent too close to the flower bud, don’t even bother trying to use it. (I did however save some of the prettier flowers to glue on the finished tree to shape it better and make it look a little more polished.)
2. Break each stem at a point about 1/2 to 1/3 inch or less, otherwise it will most likely break.
3. Having a longish nails, particularly on the thumb and index finger make it easier to grasp the flowers for insertion into the foam.
4. Work from the bottom up but while working on the bottom rows be mindful to not poke through the bottom of the foam if you want your Christmas tree to stand up straight.
5. If you forget #4, a wire cutter works great to trim the protruding stems even with the base.
6. If your tree will be used on a tabletop display, you might want to glue a piece of felt to the bottom. (Mom’s Christmas village is covered in fiber fill “snow” so the bottoms of my trees won’t show.)
7. The flowers are stronger than they look but there will be some loss to clumsy hands, leaving the stems too long and pushing too hard into the foam. If the flower head breaks off, it’s usually easier to just leave the stem in the foam than risk damaging the flowers around it trying to pull it back out.
8. I used a butcher knife (first time using one of those in the craft room LOL) to cut the floral foam. This step is very messy and the foam bits that you shave off become electrified and stick to every darn thing they touch. I tried to cut mine directly into a garbage bag.
Ah, but now that I had abandoned the caspia, I figured there had to be something I could do with it. And I also had a fairly impressive pile of grassy-looking flower stems that went from the color of straw to dark green. Bushes and dried grasses!
Only problem is to make it look how I envisioned would require some crystal-like glitter to make them look like a snow covered bank.
Crochet doesn’t typically require glitter so there’s none to be found in my stash. Oh well, Mom’s just going to have to imagine what it will look like with glitter. The weekend snow has us trapped in our driveway. Three days of shoveling and we still don’t have much more than a path. We’re definitely having a white Christmas this year.
Anyway, I think my flower bushes and little Christmas trees came out so cute and the grassy/bush part will be way cool when the glitter/snow is added – probably next spring by the time we get out – freezing rain is now predicted for Christmas Eve.
Whatcha think? Are they way cool or what? Thanks Annie for a great idea to build upon!
p.s. Don’t anyone tell Mom what she’s getting for Christmas!