Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Dare to DIY: Flocked Christmas Tree



An Honest Review and Tutorial. DIY if you dare.
I've been eyeing pretty flocked trees for a while. I'm so drawn to the snowy branches. It seems to bring some softness to the tree and I guess you always want what you can't have.... and for us, that's a white Christmas. It just doesn't happen in South Alabama. (My Iowa family members are probably thinking I should be careful what I wish for.) Anyway, I have perfectly good trees and didn't want to go buy another one, so I decided to DIY it. 

Now, I'm not one to shy away from a good do-it-yourself project. But, when I started researching how to flock a Christmas tree, I almost decided to forego the whole project. But I really, really, really wanted a flocked tree and I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my tree to look this year and when I get a vision in my head, it's virtually impossible for me to veer from that direction. (Was that enough of a run-on sentence for you?) So, I decided on the most cost-effective way to flock a tree. Apparently this method was the way many people flocked trees decades ago. It involves soap flakes. 

I should let that sink in for a minute for you. Soap flakes. I should've known right then and there that this project may not go the way I envisioned it, but I forged ahead anyway. In case you're like me and desperately want to DIY your own tree, here's the recipe I used for my flocking.

Tree Flocking:
*1 large box soap flakes (all I could find was Zote soap flakes at Wal-Mart. It comes in a 17.6 oz. box for $2.64)
*4 tablespoons of corn starch
*3 cups of cold water
*1 cup of hot water
*vanilla and cinnamon (if you want to add for scent)


My tree before flocking (unfluffed)



How-to:
Add your box of soap flakes to a large bowl, then mix in the three cups of water. Add your cornstarch to the cup of warm water and stir. Then add that to your bowl and mix with a mixer until fluffy. (You may have to microwave your soap mixture to soften and melt the soap flakes. I ended up having to do that a couple of times.) You want to mix until your consistency is like fluffy shaving cream like the picture above. You can add the vanilla and cinnamon if you want to for scent. This has a very strong soapy scent, obviously, and I read somewhere that adding this helps cut down that scent. In my experience with it, it really didn't make much of a difference.  


Then, all you have to do is apply directly to your tree. I put my tree in my garage on top of a drop cloth. I didn't use gloves, but if you have sensitive skin, you might want to wear some. 


I applied the thickest amount on the very tips of the branches and a little lighter further in the tree. Once you are finished, let the tree sit for at least twenty-four hours to cure. It will dry hard.


I really liked the look of my tree when I was finished. It was flocked, but not overly so. I was so happy with and I couldn't wait to get it inside. 

After it cured overnight, I enlisted my husband to help me carry it inside still fully put together to keep from messing up the flocking. Here's where the Griswold moment comes in. I could tell by touching the flocking that it would break off easily, so I thought the best way to keep it mostly in tact was to just carry the whole thing inside fully put together. This involved us opening up both French doors at our side entry to fit it inside. Instead of taking an immediate left to get the tree to its home, we had to walk through the kitchen, through the dining room, then to the foyer, and finally the living room to get it to the office where it was going. Everywhere we walked through had a trail that looked like this:



Sorry about the blurry cell phone photo, but that was all I snapped of this mess. Ya'll, it was everywhere! I swept at least three times and vacuumed to get it all up. We probably lost 35-40% of the flocking just getting it inside and I probably lost another 10% when I decorated it.  That's about half of that pretty flocking that I spent so much time hand applying just gone!

So the moral of the story is sometimes you win at DIY and sometimes you lose. As it pertains to this particular project, I was definitely on the losing end. I'm not sure how it went for all of the many other bloggers whose posts I read about how to flock a Christmas tree, but the most anyone mentioned was that it was "messy." That may be a bit of an understatement. It is VERY messy, a good bit of your flocking will probably break off, and it smells overwhelmingly of soap. That has faded as the days have passed, but the first few days it had a very strong soap odor. 

On the up side, I still have some pretty, soapy flocking still in tact on my tree that I can enjoy for now. But, we'll see how long it takes for that to break off as well. Oh well. All's fair in love and DIY flocked Christmas trees. 

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