So excited to finally share this project! Being a teacher, this has been an incredibly challenging year….especially in Kindergarten where our program is based on hands-on learning, social skill development and play. For the first few months, I was running on empty and just couldn’t muster up the energy or motivation to do any projects or blogging. Unfortunately, both are also a huge component of my personal wellness, so I knew it was essential to carve out some time and get creative!
I came across a picture a few months ago and it wasn’t even “pinable” (not sure if that is a word), but I wasn’t able to “Pin” the picture to my Christmas Board on Pinterest. I ended up taking a “snip-it” and didn’t even think about getting the website, so I have no idea where I even found it (and thus I’m not sharing the original because I can’t even find it now)….I just kind of happened upon it. The bottom line is I can’t take credit for this idea…it’s a copycat at best! Anyway, I absolutely fell in love with the style of this tree and was determined to make my own. Because I couldn’t find the source when I went to make it, I had to use the picture as a guide and make my own plan of execution. I’m so happy with how it turned out!
Rustic Christmas Tree:
- air nailer (I can’t imagine tackling this project without one.)
- Grape Vine or Virginia Creeper
- Decorations (white lights, pinecones, star, wooden snowflakes, gold ornaments)l
- Hot glue gun/glue
Gather branches. Mine ranged in size from about 3/4 inch in diameter to approximately 1 1/2 inches. I had no idea how many to collect, but all I can say is I used lots. I didn’t actually count, but I am going to guess 60 pieces. I looked for straighter pieces, but quickly realized that is virtually impossible and the bends and curves add extra character to the tree. I brought home larger branches and then cut them down to workable lengths. (All of the wood I collected was yard waste that I gathered from back lanes during fall yard clean-up.) My branches came from a variety of trees and I think the differences in the colours and textures of the various barks add interest.
I started by building a square base with four of the branches. I cut them to approximately 12″ in length and then nailed the ends together to form the square. I also wrapped the corners with some wire to ensure they were secure. A strong foundation is key!
Build the frame. I then used 4 longer branches to establish the desired height of the tree. (My tree is just shy of 5 feet tall with a finished diameter of about 22″.) I used the air nailer and wire to attach and secure one branch inside each of the corners of my square base. I brought the tops together to form a “teepee” like shape and secured them together as well.
Once I had the frame built and firmly secured, I began to attach the smaller branches. I cut about 20 pieces varying in length from about 10″ to 14″. As I began to build I realized that in some spots, longer or shorter pieces seemed to work better. DO NOT cut them all to the same length. I found that after the first batch, I would only cut about 6 at a time and often looked at the branch shape to see where I might use it and what length would make sense to secure it properly. Although some of the branches were placed at very slight angles, a majority were angled but oriented much closer to vertical than horizontal. You really have to eyeball it and place your pieces together strategically, almost like a puzzle. WARNING….an air nailer certainly makes this job easier because you don’t have a hard backing/surface to hammer against….the downside is that it can be dangerous. I can testify to this as I air nailed through my index finger…OUCH!! Don’t do that. I was so excited that I got a little sloppy with my safety and wham. Hardly bled, but the pain and throbbing was almost unbearable. Proceed with caution. Even with the injury, this project was well worth it!
Once you have all your pieces in place, stand back and eyeball each side to make sure there aren’t any gaps that need filling. When your tree has passed the test….take your vine (I used Virginia Creeper because I have lots of it in my backyard) and wrap it around the branches. Use wire to secure it in place.
The tree itself is now finished and the fun begins….start decorating! Obviously, you can decorate it however you want, but my only advice is LESS is MORE! I opted for some fairy lights, some very soft gold ornaments (I used 4) that I bought in a set at the dollar store, wooden snowflake ornaments (again I bought these at the dollar store), pinecones and a star for the top. I bought an awesome set of felt stars from the dollar store and used one for the top.
When I began this project, the intent was to make it a focal point in my “Winter/Christmas” front porch design. I’m hoping to pull that together this weekend, but in all honesty, I love this tree so much that I’m not sure if it will end up outside or not. Most years we have set our tree up in the corner of our dining room because it’s always large and the dining room accommodates it best. Our living room is on the smaller side and with so many elements that can’t be moved (French doors, fireplace, wall mounted TV and radiator) options are limited. It just doesn’t work well! A part of me thinks this would look amazing tucked in a corner of the living room instead of on the porch. I’ll have to see how the porch comes together before I decide, but for now it is a place holder for our real tree that we’ll buy after the first of December!