Life-size trees add realism and drama to haunted houses, stage sets and faux indoor gardens. You can also use them as classroom activities when reading "The Giving Tree" or studying family history or life cycles. As homemade props go, life-size trees aren't very expensive or difficult to make. They take a lot of time and patience, but are well worth your hard work in the end.
Put on your leather gardening gloves and cut a section of chicken wire about 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Bend it into a cylinder and weave the loose wires through the honeycomb on the other edge. Use pliers to squeeze the loose wires into place.
Snip the top and bottom 1 ½ feet of your chicken wire into sections of different widths. On the bottom, those widths should range from 1 foot to 6 inches wide. On the top, the widths should range from 6 inches wide to about 2 inches wide.
Splay your bottom sections out, bending them into curving tunnels. Twist and bend the tunnels so they look like real roots. Splay your top sections out and bend them into cylinders. Twist and bend them to look like the full branches of a tree. Examining real trees as a reference may help you arrange the limbs and roots.
Tear a large stack of newspapers into strips about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. Mix about 2 gallons of warm water with a gallon of white school glue, stirring until the glue dissolves into the water. Dip the strips of newspaper into the water; glue and smooth them one at a time over the chicken wire until it is completely covered. Let the paper dry overnight. Add two or three more layers so you can't see the honeycomb texture anymore. Crinkle and pinch the two upper layers into ridges to create a bark-like texture.
Poke the wires of your fake leaf clusters through the paper covering the branches. Arrange and splay out the leaves, adding enough so the tree looks lush and full. Dip a sponge in brown paint and dab it on the tree. Repeat with a slightly lighter colour brown to add a little more texture. Let the paint dry overnight.
Things you need
- Chicken wire
- Leather gardening gloves
- Tin snips
- Large bucket
- Warm water
- White glue
- Brown paint
- Fake leaf clusters