I forgot to take a photo of the first step, gathering a piece of dowel and a wire skeleton that had been a floral bush. Both things I had on hand, it just required me pulling the flowers off of the bush and taping them together. The dowel was even a good length without needing to be trimmed, because it was from another project already.
|The dowel and the wire skeleton taped together, and all my gathered supplies.|
Then I started layering newspaper around that, and pushed bent chenille stems into the cardboard tube. Those are going to be roots.
I wrapped the wire stems with more chenille stems, making branches.
It's about 32 inches tall.
I used newspaper to bulk up the base of the branches before I started taping them. The newspaper is also important because it enables the trunk and branches to be compressed (by squeezing them) after the tape is applied. This gives it a textured, wrinkled surface, looking more like bark.
I ended up using two different masking tapes, the second one being Scotch brand; the other brand wasn't sticking to itself very well. The Scotch masking tape did much better.
I added two more branches scavenged from more floral stems, because having branches only at the top looked weird. Once I had wrapped the entire tree -- branches and roots -- I used a twisted ring of newspaper to make a knothole on the trunk. The roots are reinforced with toothpicks, but it still doesn't sit quite level. I think I will probably glue a piece of balsa to the bottom to help it sit flat.
|To show scale, with one of the dolls that will be part of the display.|
But it's mostly done; from concept to execution in one day. I even stained the wood shelves to match the bookcases that are in the library!
UPDATE #1: I did end up spray painting it flat black. I decided that while the shoe polish treatment does look cool (google: shoe polish masking tape), it's not the effect I want. So once this dries, I'm going to dry brush brownish-grey on the high spots. In the meantime, I need to hunt up some cheesecloth for the Spanish moss... I also need to do something about the base, because it really doesn't want to stand upright.
UPDATE #2: I added thin pieces of balsa to the base to help stabilize it. I also finished the detail painting I wanted to do, along with a little surprise.
UPDATE #3: Cheesecloth moss is finished! I trimmed the "finished" edges off the strip of cheesecloth, because I wanted it to be ragged. I cut it into strips of varying lengths and widths, and played with the placement on the tree until I had what I felt were enough.
I used grey and yellow-green acrylic paint in quite a bit of water and added the strips. It wasn't enough pigment, though, so I added black paint and added the strips to the paint/water bath. I squeezed out the water, and patted the cheesecloth with a paper towel. There were some bits of paint that didn't get completely dissolved, and that left some darker spots on some of the strips. I used a tension rod in a doorway to hang the strips to dry. I could have dried them flat, but the paint stiffens the cloth; if I wanted them to hang over the branches, I needed to hang them from something.
They also wanted to curl into themselves, so I had to gently pull the strips back open. I didn't want it to be completely flat, though, because Spanish moss doesn't hang in a tidy sheet from the trees, either. Once the pieces were dry (didn't take long), I started putting them back on the tree. The color didn't have enough green in it, and the moss is a living thing, so I used the tip of a loaded brush to apply dots of the yellow-green randomly to the hanging strips, just like you might see on living moss.
True fact -- Spanish moss isn't moss at all. It's an angiosperm, and belongs to the same family as bromeliads.