I saw some vintage style bottle brush trees for sale at Cost Plus World Market, this holiday season. They were really lovely and not too expensive, but at $7 each, they were more than I wanted to spend at this time. In doing some more research, I stumbled upon a few tutorials on DIY bottle brush trees. Now I was fascinated and wanted to make my own. The one I chose to follow can be found here.
I bought these Lemax pine trees from Michael’s. They were 50% off of $21, plus I got an extra 20% discount. Less than $10 for 21 trees, I was pleased. I found them in the Christmas-minature-scene section. These pine trees had fake snow on them. I was a little worried about this fact, but apparently many people have used these for this project. The “snow” comes right off with the bleach and some scrubbing with your hand.
I gathered my supplies; the trees, gloves, bleach and a container. I filled the container with some water and some bleach. I didn’t measure the bleach, but it was a sufficient amount to remind me why I hate the stuff. It is really caustic.
I put the trees in the bleach/water solution and the color started to come off immediately. I let the trees soak for over an hour. One tutorial I read left the trees to soak over night. I might try that next time.
While several of the small trees turned out pretty white, the larger ones looked as though they still had some processing to do. I had read one tutorial that used OXY Clean. I decided to give it a try.
I used OXO Brite, which in my opinion is better than OXY clean. I left them to soak for an hour in this solution.
At this point, I was satisfied that the trees were white enough and was eager to move on to the dying. I mixed the dye in a glass vase and dipped the trees in. They took the color right away.
The colors were brighter than I had originally hoped for. I left them to dry over night.
The next day, I fluffed up the trees, as they were looking a bit mangy from the dye bath. Some didn’t fully recover. I guess this adds to the vintage look.
To add some sparkle, I used glitter. I sprayed each tree, one-at-a-time, with spray adhesive and then sprinkled them with extra-fine glitter and some tinsel glitter. The result was subtle yet charming.
The bright colors were toned down by the addition of the glitter.
I have yet to figure out how to photograph glitter to show the true effect.
In the end, I was wishing I had kept some white. Perhaps I will revisit this project next year and leave some white. I would also love to change the tree bases from the stock plastic base to a round wooden disk. This would make them appear more authentic and unique. Perhaps I will also add some baubles to tart them up a bit.