The 12 Crafts of Christmas: Retrofabulous 3-d Foamcore Toile Christmas Tree

Retrofabulous 3-d Foamcore Toile Christmas Tree!

Fab DIY trees from 1960 Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas!

Oh magazine, you are so big and bursting with fab ideas you can't fit on my scanner!

I know you're out there, but you're all so LURKY. Talk to me! Don't be afraid! I'm nice and funny! I like sparkly things! I talk to everyone in real life, it drives my daughter nuts. Standing in line, walking through a store, waiting for a plane, riding in a cab, yelling obscenities at them in my car when they drive like idiots. It would be so lovely to hear from you. Just a little, 'Hi Madge!' or 'Thanks for the weird but kinda cool projects' would truly maketh my day. No woman is an island, though this woman would like to live on one, in the tropics, got that, Santa?

Retrofabulous Foamcore Toile Christmas Tree
Copyright 2011 Margot and Andrew Potter

Okay so here it is! The big reveal! Our 4' foam core 3-d Christmas Tree! I was inspired by the funky crafty trees in this 1960 BHG Christmas helps!  Too fun! Just so you get the full vision, if this was a shop window or a set there would be three of these in varied sizes. There would be faux glittered snow piled around them and large glittery filigree snowflakes hanging from clear fishing line. I would make a vintage ribbon style banner that read, "Joyeux Noel" and there would be a big black and white blow up of the Eiffel Tower in the background. I would be wearing a red beret embellished with big shiny pailettes, a black and white striped full skirted, wasp waisted Dior style dress with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS lined up on the edge of each stripe, a large patent leather belt, a jet beaded black bolero style 3/4 sleeve jacket and some fabulous sparkly Madge style jewelries with red lips and thick cat eye Audrey Hepburn style eye liner or the mannequin would be wearing that. I can't spend all day in a shop window.

If you'd like to know how we made this kitschy creation...below are pics and instructions! Yes, it's another EPIC 12 Days of Retrofabulous Christmas Craftabration post! YAY! Good GRIEF, Charlie it Christmas...yet?!

2 32"x40" white foam core sheets
1 slightly larger cardboard box (for template)
Krylon Black Spray Paint
Krylon Silver Glitter Blast Spray Paint (We recommend you consider painting the tree forms silver first, we did not and had to use three cans of this stuff...also this is incredibly stinky and glittery so do this OUTSIDE or in the garage.)
Large swirly Stencil (I have had this for years, but you can find similar at the big box craft chains or easily make your own or free hand the swirls if your super crafty like that.)
4" wide round shape for tracing (We used a ramekin.)
White garland
Tiny battery operated 20 LED light strands
Large rectangular shoe box
Coordinating silver wrapping paper (We used decorative kraft paper, which is really thick and sturdy.)
Glue sticks (We used about four big sticks!)

Utility knife
String to measure arcs
Tape measure
Hot glue gun
Pencil or marker for tracing
Hot Glue Helpers

Head Elf at Studio Madge: Drew "Archimedes" Potter doing the math!

Look, Ma, a template!

1. Make a template for tree using cardboard box. Tree should be full length of foam core and the bottom branch area the full width. You have to do some math and use string and pen to get consistent arcs. Here are some arc drawing tips.  It helps if someone on your team can do the math, I would dive in and eyeball this sucker, but thankfully Drew did the math. Math is fun! Have fun! Now give yourself a 'mathy' nickname like Pythagoras or Archimedes! Yay!

Trace and cut!

2. Trace template on foam core and cut out trees with utility knife. Be careful, these knives are super sharp.

3. Measure to the center point on both trees, use utility knife to cut 1/4" slot from top to center of one tree and from bottom to center of the other. They slide together to form an x.

Spray outside!

4. Spray trees with Glitter Blast...outside.

4. Use your round form to trace and cut out circles, these fall at the same spot on each branch in a straight line from each other. Use a ruler to center the circles before you mark and cut. Cut 12 total circles, we did this after glitter blasting, but you can do it before. Either way!

Stencil and Spray!

5. Stencil tree, mask area around stencil to prevent over spray. Line up the stencil on each side so they will line up when tree is assembled. You may want to have two or three stencils. You have to stencil 12 times. We did one side on each side and flipped stencil and repeated on other.

NOTE: There are no more step out pics, as we were both busy making the rest of the tree from here on out...but I think it's all fairly self explanatory!

6. Wrap box like a present, don't worry if it's not perfect, no one will unwrap it. As long as it looks good on top, that is all that matters. You may use a bone folder and do math if that's your thing, I just dove in and went for it. Leave the lid off, you don't need it.

7. Place tree in center of box, trace and cut out x form with utility knife leaving a little space for the lights to come through.

8. Secure battery packs to inside corners of box using hook and loop tape. Thread light strands thought points of x form on box, one per form, these will be glued to the edge of your tree.

9. Insert tree. You can glue it down if you like with hot glue or just insert. FYI: you won't be able to take it apart once you add lights and garland.

10. You need two people to do the next part and I recommend Hot Glue Gun Helpers because even with them I burned my fingertips about four times. Damn you, hot glue! So the lights are attached from the bottom up curving along the arcs with hot glue. You have to turn the tree over and it is awkward. Don't worry about attaching them to the bottom of each arc, pull them taught and attach to the tops and then when you add garland you can secure the bottom lights.

11. Add garland, I did full glue on top and glue dabs on bottom where each light hit on the strands. This secures it all to the tree branches. This is kinda stressful and you will get burned, so if you like wine or beer or perhaps a nice snifter of wassail, you may want to bust it out along with some lidocaine cream.

12. We were on a big deadline, so we added a ribbon topper. If we had time, we'd have done a 3-d star. If you want to make the flower ornaments, the instructions are here.

13. Phew.
Happy Holidaze! 


Unknown said...

Hi Madge! Thank you for the wonderful inspiration on your blog!

Margot Potter said...

Hi Kristi!

Thank you so much!


Unknown said...

So cool and fun. I'll be making on of these.

Margot Potter said...

Yay! Thanks Ms. Debbie!


Claire Vorauer said...

Of course we're here, you KNOW we're here! You brighten my day like a handfull of glitter thrown into the air! Keep it up girl! When you throw enough glitter at the world some of it WILL stick! I promise.

Marcia DeCoster said...

Love the 1960 trees! Amazing they still work.

Margot Potter said...

Miss Claire, I do believe!


Margot Potter said...


You would be amazed out how fresh and fun so many of the projects in these magazines are!