My husband and I were working on the house we'd built when we moved in.  Our daughter was one. Most of my time went to tending to her and finishing up some jobs around the house when she was napping or in bed for the night.  I hadn't got to create a nursery in the rental we'd been living in, so despite all the other things that needed to be done (and being limited to what I could do during a nap that she could wake from at any moment).  I decided I wanted to make a tree for her room.... I know it's sort of cliche to put a tree in a nursery but this was cliche-in-a-new way. :)  I had already painted a simple landscape around the room and thought a dimensional tree would be a cool addition.

 

I'd seen concrete forms (sonnotubes) before and thought a big cardboard tube would be fun to work with.  All I needed was half of one...which is usually how they are cut off concrete columns once poured and set.  One evening, we had dinner at family's and driving down the road from their house, I happened to notice half a sonnotube lying in the ditch.....funny things like this sometimes happen to me (sort of makes up for some of the crummy times a person deals with, and puts a smile on your face)...yes.  Someone's trash, blown off their truck, can make me happy...stop judging me ;)

I began by cutting the top of the tube down the middle about a foot.  I then saturated it with water (outside) so that I could tightly bind the top of the tree and the two parts I'd split, into a more tapered shape. I let that dry and then set it in a corner to see how it needed to be cut for it to set neatly into it.  I made some minor cuts to get it to sit right.

Next, I gathered things to attach for the branches like scrap electrical wire, dowel rods and a couple small, bent curtain rods.  I figured out how to place them and used some cardboard and some duct tape and then masking tape to hold the branches and bulk them up.  I tried not to leave any slick surfaces that would be hard to get the mache to stick to. 

I also cut a hole in the middle and added a small shelf, inside, cut to fit the rounded part of the tree and into the corner.  I screwed that into place.  Also, towards the back, but above the tree-hole, I added some wire (to the back with screws) so that I would be able to attach the tree to the wall at the corner later)  I then attached scrap stucco mesh (we had from a previous project) onto the larger surfaces, with small screws.  I wish I had more pics...SORRY.  I also formed roots with some trianguler mesh scraps.  The stucco mesh added strength and made a good base for the fabric mache I'd be putting on. 

I had found gauze-like fabric on clearance at Joann's and bought a gallon of wood glue and some plaster of paris.......This is sounding like a big commitment isn't it?   Yeah, I guess I'm a lot more focused than I give my OCD self credit for. haha.  The pic of the tree with tape on it was before I put stucco mesh on it and (I think) I also put on a lot more tape before macheing.  I then mixed up some plaster of paris with wood glue (about half a half) and dipped the strips (I'd cut from the fabric) into the mixture and started attaching them to the tree.  This was fun and VERY messy.  I wore rubber gloves to do this and had a limited time because plaster of paris sets up quickly.

WOW.  I'm not done yet.  You still there???

I let that set for a few days (if not a week) to dry and cure.  I then painted it with leftover paint I had mixed to match the floors and other colors in the room.  If you hadn't guessed what my leaves were made of yet, It's spray foam insulation (the flame retardant kind).  I was originally going to cut a bunch of felt leaves but it would've been impossible to find the color I'd want and would've been expensive and difficult (and eventually get very dusty and would be hard to clean).  I then had the idea to use the foam and it worked really well.  Wearing gloves and long sleeves (and hopefully goggles) I carefully and slowly sprayed the foam onto a plastic table cloth laid out on the ground.  When that set, it all got a coat of primer (that I'd watered down and mixed with green paint and put in an old spray bottle to spray on.....I function like a mad scientist )  When that dried, I roughly brushed on more green in a different shade. I then poked the foam onto the branches and then took them back off to quickly fill the holes with hot glue and put them back, one by one.  

Finally, I placed it where it would go and realized I even needed to cut off the bottom corners away to leave a space for the baseboard, (<<insert big sarcastic "yay" there).  Anyways, I got it up and decided to paint more simple branches behind the tree on the wall.  I'm pretty sure this will be the oldest project I'll have shared.  It is seven years old and has held up perfectly (of course the kids know not to climb on it or anything).  I hope you like it.  I'd love to make another sometime larger and in more realistic proportions.  

Hopefully you're still alive because I haven't bored you to death... This is obviously not a low commitment project for just anyone looking for something to do in one weekend but it was worthwhile and adds a touch of whimsy to a kids room.  Besides, it's better than watching tv...maybe that should be my motto.  

 

Thanks for checking out my work!!

Fabric Mache Tree