Monday, August 15, 2011

Make Something Monday: Dyed Bottle Brush Trees

I've always loved the vintage bottle brush trees that you see in antique Christmas displays. Many are dusted with shiny mica flakes or chunky silver glitter. Some even have tiny Christmas balls embedded in them. Whatever the color or style, I've always wanted some but have you seen how much some of these cost? There's no way I was going to pay such high prices for them. A while ago I saw the instructions somewhere online for custom dyeing bottle brush trees at home and told myself that I'd make them someday. When I was getting ready for my recent Kitschy Christmas Wreath class, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try it!

Since it was the end of July, finding a package of the ugly green flocked bottle brush trees wasn't easy. However, Hobby Lobby carries them year-round in the dollhouse miniatures section - 3 trees for $1.99. Not bad! And if you get them during a week when dollhouse items are 50% off...even better!

To dye the trees you'll need the following items: bottle brush trees of any size, bleach, protective gloves (latex or dishwashing are fine), salt, dish soap, fabric dyes, paper towels, water, and a large bowl for the bleach, soap/water and each dye color.

Step 1: Wearing gloves, fill a large bowl with straight bleach. If you are uncomfortable using straight bleach, you can add some water to it. It will just take longer for the trees to bleach out. Add your bottle brush trees to the bleach and let them soak about 10 minutes. The color will immediately start to fade. With your gloved hands, rub the bleach into the trees. After the trees are completely bleached, throw them into a bowl of soap/water. Rub each tree with soap, then run under warm water, squeeze off excess water, and set aside on paper towels. Don't worry if the bristles look weird. You can reshape them later after they are dry from dyeing.

(more photos below)
Step 2: For each dye color, fill a large mixing bowl about 1/2 full with water, a tablespoon of salt (keeps the color from running) and 1/2 package of fabric dye. The dyes I used on the trees below are Rit Petal Pink and Dylon Bahama Blue, both brands available at Hobby Lobby. Holding the tree by the base, dip quickly into dye bowl, only submerging for 1-2 seconds. (wear gloves) The color takes immediately, so check the color and dip again for a darker shade. Let trees dry on paper towels overnight. Be careful not to let different color trees touch each other as the color will transfer.

Step 3: When trees are completely dry, you can leave them as is or bling them up a bit! Brush them with a light coating of mod podge and sprinkle on some fine or chunky glitter or mica flakes. You can also cover the base with glitter. Many of the students in my Christmas wreath class jazzed up their dyed trees and they were so beautiful! You can see some photos of what they did here and here. (thanks Linda and Cindy!)

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and that you'll try some of these yourself. I think I'll make some orange and black ones for Halloween!


KALDesign said...

I am so glad you are getting back to blogging... I love reading your creativity!!!

Jingle said...

Those look fantastic! I need to get my hands on some good bottle brush trees!

Tammy said...

This is such a great idea. I would have tried to just paint them. But bleaching them? So much better! :)

Pam said...

How cute! Love this idea! Thanks for sharing!:-)

Elisa K said...

I love your color choices of the trees. I always do black ones for Halloween but never thought to do other colors. LOL Thanks for the added push.


Melonie said...

I have so many of these and had NO idea you could dye them:) Thanks for the tutorial!!

Diane Payne said...

Love the tutorial and I love the idea of making them Halloween colors!

Lisa Spiegel said...

I love this idea! Especially for Halloween..thanks for the great tutorial!!