Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Is A "Real" Tree?

When my daughters were young we always put up a "real" Christmas tree.  Sometimes we would go to the woods and cut one down or go to the Christmas tree lot for the perfect tree.  Then my youngest daughter started to develop allergies to the tree.  It was probably the dust and pollen that remained on the needles as opposed to the pine or fir itself.  We decided we needed to buy an artificial tree.  I didn't like doing it at first.  All my life we had fresh Christmas Trees.  Then I realized it was a "real" tree because of what it symbolized.  I imagine the harmful chemicals emitted by the plastic tree was probably more harmful than the pollen, but the immediate effects were gone.  Also gone was the stress of getting the tree (which was always way too large) into a stand.  I wanted it straight even if the main branch was more crooked than a dog's hind leg.  The third reason was that it didn't need watering, so the left over needles on the floor and the fire hazard were eliminated.  So forevermore we have had artificial Christmas trees.  They have come a long way with how they look and the ease of putting them together.  In the past, each branch had to be inserted into the proper slot.  If you did it wrong the shape would be out of wack. They were color coded but that wore off so each branch had to be marked for the next year.  Now they just snap into place and look almost alive.  The only gripe I have is they smell like nothing as opposed to a nice fresh spruce smell.   Recently I was able to somewhat solve that problem.

Hidden away on my tree are some decorations I made.  I put the gingerbread man front and center so you can see it.  I have some other smaller stars and trees made the same way.

This is what I did.  First I purchased this product.  It is air dry clay by Crayola.  This one comes in the terracotta color similar to gingerbread.  It also comes in white and probably other colors.  There are also other brands at the craft store, but this was the least expensive.

I found some cookie cutters that were open on each end.  I tried the regular type cutter, and I couldn't get the clay out.  I needed to push the clay through.  It is quite sticky.  It also needs to be rolled out like sugar cookie dough but quite thick or it will break.  I would roll them to at least 3/8 inch thick.

Use this type of cookie cutter.

Not this type.  The clay sticks in the grooves.

After the clay is cut out, some type of indentations need to be put in the shape.  These indentations hold the essential oil which is put on after the ornaments are dry although the porousness of the ornament will also absorb the oil.

It takes about three days for the clay to dry.  Don't move it too soon.  I did with the star and the tip broke off.  I wet it a little and pushed it back together.  I didn't touch it again until it was completely dry.  So far so good, but there are no guarantees.  Also make a hole in the top when the clay is wet.  You can use the hole to put a hanger through for hanging on the tree.  A downside is clean up.  The terracotta color stains so cut out and dry on parchment or freezer paper.  Wash the cookie cutters right away or you will have to scrub.  A dishwasher comes in handy for this.  Then cleaning is not a problem.

When the ornaments are completely dry,  put some drops of essential oil in the grooves or anywhere on the ornament.  I used evergreen oil on the first two.  It smelled a little musty using it straight.  I have been playing with other woodsy oils.  I added some eucalyptus which helped a little but I'm not there yet.  Maybe a little peppermint will work.  It is all personal preference.  One container of clay will make many ornaments, plus I am sure they will last from year to year.  Next Christmas you can just refresh the oil and your work is all done.

I even put a little essential oil on the pine cones and the trees in my villages.

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