Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Trees from Trash!

I haven't had so much fun crafting since Allen was in graduate school.

Really, I don't "craft" much anymore. I don't create things anymore because then you have to find a place for it. And I suppose I have turned to "creating" with Zumba choreography and growing in my garden. And remodeling my house. But Allen gets exhausted when I do that. Because it creates work for him.

But Christmas trees are a must. I loved the living tree I created on the patio, but my juices were still flowing and I saw some possibilities for very low-cost trees I could bring inside. So, of course, I did them all. The common theme is "trash to treasure." Making my dad proud.

TREE #1:
TRASHED ITEM: metal fan screen, white trash bags, old t-shirts, salvaged styrofoam ball

I had a whimsical idea for an indoor tree made from t-shirt material. Using t-shirts from the thrift store, I cut fringe pieces and layered them on a frame of bamboo poles. My idea was to layer them thickly and then shine one single light from the inside of the tree to create an illusion of twinkle lights. But I could only find two green shirts at the store so it didn't turn out like I planned. But I still like it!

I needed a good base to hold the poles steady. I was on a run one morning and saw an old metal fan in pieces next to the sidewalk. It was just what I needed.

I topped it with a styrofoam ball that I had saved from the trash at the church Halloween party. I wrapped it with a little yellow fabric from a shirt we didn't need. Millie made a paper chain and I think it looks so cheerful!

TREE #2:
TRASHED ITEM: leftover felt from Halloween costume, reused tent poles

Henry has been needing some activities to entertain him. So I threw together this little felt tree for him to decorate and redecorate as much as he likes. I used the tent poles from the circus tent he hasn't been using much from IKEA and secured them in a pizza box base. I wrapped it with green felt and cut some simple shapes from colored felt. It was pretty easy!

TREE #3:
TRASHED ITEM: tree branch, "coasters," imperfect seashells, bricks and an extra tile piece from garage

I think my favorite "tree" is this one. The house we live in is a typical neglected rental property. There are three trees here and all of them show signs of neglect. I have trimmed two of them significantly and they look much better.

I cleaned the leaves off one branch and brought it inside.

There is a picture hook in the wall holding it steady, one branch bracing against the wall, and the base is supported on more bricks from the other side of the house and a metal hanging basket frame from a yard sale. It is surprisingly sturdy. 

Allen and I went to a garden show a few weeks ago and one of the businesses was handing out some products to promote their business. The lady offered me the last box and said, "they're coasters." I thought, "no silly, they're Christmas ornaments." They look perfect in this tree. I also sprinkled the branch with seashells from all of our coastal explorations. I could only use "imperfect" ones that have holes to thread some string through it. It's very relaxing to sit under it.

One of my favorite restaurants in Orem is Terra Mia. I especially loved the huge live ficus tree that was about 10-12' tall. It felt so good to sit under it to enjoy our meal. There is something so pleasant about sitting under a tree. I think I'm keeping this tree branch even after Christmas is over.

TREE #4:
TRASHED ITEM: rusty rebar, old grass from the front yard

This is a crazy find. Henry and I were on the bike trail one morning waiting for the car to be serviced. I just happened to see a piece of rusty rebar that was discarded. I can't explain my love for old metal, but I was drawn to it. I thought it could be cute to stick magnets on it for holding pictures.

I looked at it for a few days and then found a great use for it.

The nativity pattern is one my mom created years ago. We have a full size version made of plywood at our home in Orem that is painted white. It looks so peaceful in our front window. I found the pattern on my computer and transferred it to brown paper from shopping bags. I added some pieces of "straw" that are actually remnants of last years ornamental grasses out front (Again, "neglected rental property"). It's kind of a tree, kind of a nativity but it looks nice on the wall. And it makes me happy to see our familiar nativity again.

TREE #5:
TRASHED ITEM: loads of discarded succulents! and some empty plastic containers from the kitchen.

I was on a run one evening and as I passed a house I saw that they had cut down a lot of their succulents and the remnants were just laying there. As my feet were still moving, my wheels started turning. I couldn't resist the opportunity to make something with SO MANY ROSETTES. I headed back and knocked on the door. No one answered so I came back later with a note asking for the scraps. Permission was granted.

Commence WORK.

I didn't take enough pictures. Mostly because my hands were dirty the entire time and I couldn't handle my phone. It's also because I lacked faith that I was going to be able to turn my dream into reality. It was really questionable what I was doing.

I pounded some bamboo poles into the ground out front. Now see, "out front" means I was really sticking my neck out doing this crazy thing IN PUBLIC. I was nervous.

I had planned to pack sphagnum moss along a network of poles and string and then fill the inside with dirt. But the moss was more flimsy than I thought. I almost gave up right then. But I start weaving some twigs from other tree trimmings through the string and it gave me hope.

But not enough. There was no way this was going to be sturdy enough to hold up all those succulents.

I gave up again. I was still in the mood to work outside so I walked through the front yard. The grasses still have the dried up remnants of two or three sesaons at their base, so I grabbed a handful to throw away. It was in my hand and I realized I could make a basket-weave out of it to hold the dirt in place.

It worked!

You can see inside that I took up some of the volume with a large pretzel container. More trash to treasure!

The completed base. I still lined it with moss and filled it with as much soil as I could. 

So now "all" I had to do was "just" stick in all the succulents. My hands really suffered with this. I had to poke my finger into the tight weave of the grasses and shove in the stems. A screw driver would have been handy to save my fingers, was inside and I don't like being interrupted. I can't be bothered to go get tools!

It took three days to finish arranging the plants on the tree. I won't get any compliments on my manicure, but I don't care. Do you like my tree?

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