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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to make a Jewelry Tree



Here is how to make your own jewelry tree.  I've been meaning to make one of these for years, and I finally figured out the best way!  So here is what to do...

You need:
Manzanita Branch
Pruners
Primer and paint
Decorative container
Plaster of Paris
Painter's tape

1. Get yourself a nice branch of Manzanita.  I actually got mine from my friend's property in Santa Barbara.  It grows wild all over California, and I think many other Western states.  I'm not sure about other states.  If you are picking it wild, make sure you don't take it from State or National parks.  That is illegal and Rangers will ticket you.  And, bad karma.   If you don't have Manzanita growing wild out your back door, you can order it from a flower shop, or even order it off the internet.  It ain't cheap though.  I highly recommend using Manzanita because the bark is smooth and the wood is hard.  It's strong enough to hold a lot of weight.  Think how heavy all of your jewelry is!  The bark is a beautiful reddish dark brown color, and lovely on it's own, with out paint.  My vision was a glossy blue ;)

2.  Prune down your branch, removing all leaves and crossing branches.  Prune with hanging jewelry in mind.  You want to slip your delicate necklaces over branch hooks easily.   Git rid of thin branches that easily bend.

3. Prime your branch with a spray primer, or use a paint brush and paint on acryllic gesso.  Add two coats, letting the first coat dry for about 15 minutes, before adding the second.  Let the primer completely dry before you add your paint.  Follow the recommended drying times on your primer container.  BTW, it is so, sooo important to prime first.  Primer makes your paint last a lot longer because it helps it stick to the surface better.  It also lets you achieve an even, perfect, bright color.  You wont get a vibrant color if you don't prime.

4.  Paint!  many ways to do this.  I think a high gloss spray paint works the best, and that's what I did.  I sprayed 3 coats, letting each dry for about 30 minutes in between.  Then, Let dry for 24 hours before you move on to the next step.

5. Did you really wait 24 hours, or are you impatient like me.  I really did wait this time, because I didn't want my nice glossy finish to rub off.  So next you need a decorative container.  Size really depends on how big your branch is.  You do not have to go too big.  You will be filling your container with plaster,  so it will be well weighted.  Make sure your container doesn't have a hole in the bottom.  Or if it does, seal it off with tape.

6.  Take your Plaster of Paris, and follow mixing instructions on the box.  Pour the liquid in your container and center your branch with painter's tape.  Make sure you have at least 3 inches of your branch submerged in the plaster.  Also, don't fill your container to the brim with plaster.  It will expand a bit, and you don't want to actually see the plaster.  When it sets, you can even finish the look with decorative rocks or moss. My container is tall and slim, so I added about 1 cup of plaster and let it set, and then added my branch, and more plaster.  The stuff is amazing.  It goes from a runny liquid to rock solid in about 20 minutes. 

7. Wait about an hour, and yay!  You're done!  Add your loot!

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