Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Xmas Project #1

There has got to be something wrong with someone who comes up with an idea that is fit for craft day at the Funny Farm. That someone would be me.

We have had this seven foot black tree in the store for some time now. It was in my house last year for a magazine shoot; I used it last Christmas for our Wendy Addison ornaments, and this year we used it at Halloween for our furry owls:

It has a 12" plywood base and is made of heavy wire strands wrapped in paper. We have sold these in many sizes but this was the biggest we carried. As it sat in the storage room last month, I had an idea to use it for my Scandinavian Christmas room: I'm going to wrap it in yarn!

As I sat at home for four nights, painting it first and then wrapping and wrapping, hot gluing and cutting, I couldn't help but think, "What possesses me to do such things?" I haven't an answer to that but I know I have had it all my life. I remember as a teenager covering my bedroom ceiling with aluminum foil (no comment) and as a young adult I sewed 200 pearls perfectly spaced over a black sweatshirt. I have painted and rigged and crafted so many things I have tools for nearly everything, but this project- well something was so right and yet so wrong about it.

I will say, I LOVE IT! And I may take it home with me and leave it up 365! And for you who are not so anal-retentive, a simple fallen branch 18" or so would do just fine used in a large urn. Also, do your own version: Use torn cotton strips with frayed edges, or burlap or lace or fringed trim or newsprint strips.... the possibilities are endless. And of course, there is yarn nowadays in every color and texture imaginable. After wrapping with yarn I shoved it in my tiny office and added my personal collection of vintage ornaments as well as many others we currently have for sale in the store. Take a look:

Many shops have trees similar to this now; made of wire, wrapped in paper. Look for something twig like, open and flexible. The one down-side to using an actual branch from Mother Nature is that it will not move with you. A wire base is much easier to manipulate as you turn, twist and wrap these branches. Using a real branch, you will be doing all the turning and your arm might fall off.

I started with the limbs first and hot glued a small amount at the base to hold the yarn taught as I wrapped outward. If the limb is especially long, add another drop of glue half way up, but only if you feel you need it to stay on course. One inch from the tip, I added another drop of glue and wrapped the end tightly. Let it cool just a second so you can use your hands to scrunch the yarn into the glue and get a tight end. You will burn yourself a time or two so be ready! I used the tip of my glue gun a lot to secure the loose ends into the glue. After the limbs are done wrap the trunk. Top to bottom, bottom to top, doesn't matter.

You will get your rhythm down after a few tries and know how tight to pull the yarn, if you need to cut a strand off at a time or not and when and where to glue it for security. I had thought I would smear Elmer's on the entire branch and just wrap but hot glue is made for this! And gluing only occasionally keeps it soft to the touch. Keep turning and feeling the branch so you know your yarn is covering it perfectly with no gaps. After you are finished, use the glue gun to go back in and tighten the ends or wrap smaller pieces here and there at the joints to cover some exposed areas. Voila!

And of course I had to stay true to my love of a neutral palette by attaching all ornaments in silver, mercury, clear, ivory, and gold. Years ago on Martha Stewart, she featured a segment with one of her editors who had a fabulous Christmas tree. He took the time to add 3 inches of thin silver wire to each ornament which enabled him to wrap each one securely on the tree branch without an ugly Xmas hook showing. This gets the top of the ornament right up to the branch, holds it in place (so much so you could cover the tree with a sheet and store it away for a year!) or it allows you to just pull the ornament and let the wire unravel when you take it down. I also took the time to super glue the ornament top to the bulb for long-lasting security; especially the older ornaments that I love and do not want falling apart.

The staff kept asking if I was going to sell this so I decided I might as well add up the cost of materials and my time and see what happens. If it doesn't sell, it will certainly get a conversation started in the store.