How to make bottle brush xmas trees


How to Make Bottle Brush Holiday Trees

By Janine Waite ·

Affiliate Disclosure: This Post May Contain Affiliate Links.

 How to Make Bottle Brush Holiday Trees are the Happy Craft for today! Are you like me and you love these wonderful bottle brush trees? Do you own a collection? Or possibly you want to make a few and start your own collection of wonderful colored trees? Well, you have come to the right blog post.

 Bottle Brush Trees

These little trees have mesmerized me for years. I loved them when they only came in the dark green with flecks of white snow. It is so cool that now they come in a wide range of colors like the rainbow. But, I have noticed that the big stores only carry certain colors, so if you have a particular color you would like, you’re totally out of luck.

So, I have the answer for you if you want to know how to make bottle brush trees in all kinds of colors. I have studied this topic for about two years and I think you’ll appreciate my research.

 

I first spied a gorgeous row of bottle brush trees at a wonderful scrapbooking shop in Berkeley. This store is no longer in business but when they were, they had every color imaginable. And the cool thing is they had every color imaginable in bottle brush trees.

Of course, the minute I saw them, I knew I would be making my own.

Are All Bottle Brush Trees Created Equal?

So, the traditional bottle brush trees are made out of sisal. This is a natural fiber from the leaves of an Agave plant. Well, last year, I bought a few bottle brush dark green trees and tried to bleach them, unbeknownst to me they were made of some synthetic material and the dye was set into the fibers. After a couple of bottles of bleach, I gave up and now I own a ton of green trees. Sisal trees, on the other hand, are dye a color that can be stripped out by bleach. And underneath the top layer of color is a gorgeous natural light tan color tree.

 

Can You Make Your Own Bottle Brush Trees?

Yes, you can make your own bottle brush trees and I hope to publish a post in the near future. I have the trees made and they came out a bit more earthy than the store bought ones. I made them from sisal rope and wire and I’m super surprised how easy of a project it is. So stay tuned for that post.

 

How Long Do You Bleach The Trees For?

I found that the time it takes to bleach a bottle brush tree varies from the different brands. So, plan on 20-40 minutes but you definitely want to watch over it. Don’t be tempted to walk away since the bleach can eat away the tree bristles. I know this little tidbit since I found out the hard way.

What is the Best Way To Color the Trees?

So, I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to crafts and I have colored my bottle brush trees in many ways. So, I have spray painted them as well, as painted them with acrylic paint. I found the prettiest and most vibrant colors are derived from Tom Holtz Ink Dye. There is nothing comparable to his dyes.

 

How to Make Bottle Brush Holiday Trees

 

Bottle Brush Holiday Trees Supplies:

Bottle Brush Trees

Bleach

Tom Holtz

Glitter

Elmers Glue

Bucket or big Mason Jar

Tongs

Bottle Brush Holiday Trees Directions:

So, let’s get started. you’ll want to buy the standard bottle brush trees. If you want to skip this stage, I believe you can buy them in their natural state. I bought these green trees from hobby lobby. But here is the link from Amazon: bottle brush trees

1. Next, you’ll want 100% bleach, the kind that will take the color off your clothes.

2. Then you’ll want to pour it into a glass bowl, a combination of bleach and water. I used 1/2 bleach to 1/2  water. The more water you add the longer it takes to get rid of the color in the trees. Just a little note, watch the trees at this stage, if you leave them in too long in the bleach solution, the bristles will fall off. Believe me, I had this happen. 🙂

Once they are bleached, rinse well with water. Then allow them to dry thoroughly.

 

Next, you’ll want Tim Holtz distress ink spray, here is the Amazon link: sprays. I bought 3 colors and only used 2 of them.

The colors can be pretty intense, and if you are looking for a lighter look, dunk your sprayed tree in a bowl of water until you achieve the shade you want.

 

Here is a Helpful Video Tutorial for Spraying Bottle Brush Trees

Next, you’ll want Tim Holtz distress ink spray. Once they are bleached, rinse well with water. Then allow them to dry thoroughly.

Then you can paint a layer of Elmers or tacky glue on the outside. Sprinkle or roll it in the glitter of your choice. I had bought the colored glitter but ultimately I loved the white glitter

 

Other Techniques to Color Bottle Brush Trees

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So, if you choose not to color your bottle brush trees with the Tim Holtz inks then the above trees are the results of the alternatives.

The first one is craft paint that is painted on with a watercolor brush. I found it is a more opaque look and not very vibrant in color. Also, it was a very labor intense job, but the colors available are pretty incredible.

The second tree is colored by a spray can. And this is somewhat vibrant and super easy to spray in just a couple minutes the job was done.

And finally, the last tree is a bleached natural tree. It is a very beautiful tree and I love the light color.

This is definitely a fun and cute project and will brighten up a room. I love the vibrant colors that the inks create, but maybe you like the other ways to color bottle brush trees. Either way, they are colors that you won’t find at the stores. I would even say they are trees that you can decorate with throughout the whole year. Thanks so much for your visit!

Cheers,

 

 

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Janine Waite

I named my blog Happy Happy Nester because I love everything related to the home. I’ve always enjoyed decorating my surroundings. Get cozy and stay for a bit, thanks for visiting!

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How to Make Bottle Brush Trees

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Did you know that you can make your own bottle brush trees? They’re an extremely popular look right now and I think they’ll continue to be. And guess how you make them? With a toilet brush!  From the Dollar Store. I’m not joking! Let me show you how cute these are.

Thank you to Ryobi for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own

Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:

If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. I’d be over the moon happy if you subscribed to my YouTube channel! Videos are actually released on YouTube first (usually the night before they’re published on the blog). Thank you!

SUPPLIES

  • Toilet Brush– I got mine from Dollar Tree for $1.25 each. You can also find these exact brushes on eBay here
  • Spray Paint- Candy Pink, Real Orange, Almond, Lemongrass, Green Apple, Ocean Mist, and French Lilac
  • 1″x3″ board– this makes the base

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tools

  • Cordless Jig Saw
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Orbital Sander
  • Wire Cutters
  • Impact Driver Drill
  • Scissors
  • Speed Square

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I spent $10 on 8 toilet brushes (which is a funny thing to type out- lol) and $28 on 6 colors of spray paint. I had the wood and tools on hand so I spent $38 on this project to make 16 bottle brush trees. That’s $2.38 per tree. Not too shabby!

step 1- cut the wire

Start by cutting the wire off the plastic end of the toilet brush. The handle is no longer needed.

Then straighten the wire. This will give you one 10″ long piece. I cut the bottle brush into two shorter lengths- a tall and a short pieces. I wasn’t super precise about cutting the tree heights so it could look like a forest.

step 2- make the base

Next, cut the base with a saw to get square pieces in the measurement of 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″. I used a jig saw- this is a great DIY beginner tool. It’s easy to use and you can create so many projects with it! I love that this saw is cordless- not worrying about the cord streamlines the process.

If I was to suggest a line of tools for a creator, I’d definitely say the RYOBI Tools. The batteries can work between any of the tools. Plus they’re affordable while being great quality. I thought this post would be a good way to showcase some great basic tools that get tons of use at my house.

For the base, find the center of the board by drawing with a speed square from one corner to another.

Then, drill a hole in the base 3/4 of the way through. Add tape to the end of the drill bit so you can easily know how far down to drill. 

To find the right spot for the tape on the drill bit, we held up the bit to the wood base and marked it with painter’s tape where we wanted the drill bit to stop.

Sand down the rough stops of the wood base. 

For these steps, I used an orbital sander and impact drill. These are two more tools I’d suggest to anyone wanting to get more into DIY. The impact drill is more powerful than a standard drill so I find it easier to use. Every DIYer needs a good sander to create professional looking projects.

step 3- shape the tree

And now, double check that all the brush wires are straight. I went through and straightened each one by hand.

Next, use scissors to trim into the shape of a tree. I started at the top by cutting the top brush pretty much to the wire. I cut the brush on an angle from the middle to the top.

Hot glue the brush into the wood base. Also, if any brush pieces are falling out, hot glue the branches so they stay on the wire.

At this point I was really excited because the little trees looked so nice! These look adorable as white little trees.

For this step, I used my newest tool- a cordless hot glue gun by Ryobi! I love how compact this is and that I can glue anywhere since I don’t need the glue gun to be plugged in. The battery goes on the base and when the gun is sitting on the base, it heats up. This is a game changer for crafters! This is my favorite new tool and I’d suggest it to anyone.

step 4- add color

Since I’m a color lover, I decided to spray paint my bottle brush trees. I gave them all one coat of paint, let them dry, and then added a second coat of spray paint. For the orange tree, I didn’t love how bright the paint looked, so I added a coral chalk paint to tone it down.

Note, the brushes for the project are made of plastic so paint is the only way these would take color. I have this blog post about how to dye and change the color on bottle brush trees for more ideas.

after

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how cute these turned out! I started the morning not being sure if I’d be able to find the brushes I’d need. And ending the day with some super cute bottle brush trees!

These could be made in so many color variations. And if you have paint on hand, this would be even more affordable than $2.38 each. Most bottle brush trees bought in store are $5 each at the cheapest so these are a great deal!

Anyway, I am a fan and so happy with how these came out. This is my first bit of Christmas decor in my Florida house and it feels so nice to have these out and looking festive!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for how to make bottle brush trees. Can you believe these started out as a toilet brush?! Let me know. if you have any questions is the comments.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

 

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Do it yourself. City Christmas tree / Habr

Strange as it sounds, but:
Prepare a Christmas tree in the summer ... something like this you can remake a well-known saying.

Using the example of creating illumination for a rotating Christmas tree, I will show that it is not difficult, and after reading the article, any electronics engineer will be able to blink a large or small Christmas tree in his city, as well as make a beautiful New Year's ball. The article presents the stages of implementation of several New Year's projects, schemes and programs for the operation of devices, tells about various pitfalls. Any scale - from space to a point.
I hope that the article will help novice electronic engineers not to be afraid, take into account the accumulated experience and create their own interesting lighting solutions that people will like.

Motherland, Happy New Year!

It all started a long time ago, when there were real fir trees, and incandescent lamps.
According to tradition, every new year the main New Year tree is set up in the cities.
If it is easy to cope with a small spruce in an apartment, then it is difficult, troublesome and expensive to deal with huge spruces in the squares.
Wealthier cities use heavy equipment and police escorts to deliver a big, fluffy tree from any forest, or organize a Christmas tree to fly through the air using a helicopter.

But one day a crisis and a transitional moment came - there is no way without a Christmas tree, but there is not enough money.
In addition to financial reasons, there were other reasons:
- "concern" about the environment;
- it is not easy to find a fluffy beauty in the nearest district;
- it is difficult to ensure transportation to the city center without damage;
- problems in the ideal fixing of illumination;
- uneven transparency and distortion when displaying lighting effects.

Living spruces began to disappear from the New Year's squares and tree substitutes appeared, which, logically, should reduce the price of the New Year's holiday, but it is very difficult to believe that this is so.

Lyrical digression - Christmas tree in childhood.
Decorating a Christmas tree with illumination has been instilled in me since childhood. My father flew as a flight radio operator in a helicopter, and always made a beautiful New Year's holiday in the distant 60-70s. Garlands were assembled from 26 or 13.5 volt light bulbs, insulated with a PVC tube, the balloon was covered with several layers of zaponlak. Flasher on the RES-22 relay, if memory serves. That sound of clicking contacts will forever be remembered. The highest chic is the production of a rotating Christmas tree with illumination. Aircraft electric motor with gearbox, carbon brushes. And it was the same as a child.

The spiral has made another turn, and it's time for me to take care of the Christmas trees.
On one of the New Year holidays, there was a transitional moment between real spruce and a substitute. They brought a Christmas tree from the forest, in which almost all the lower branches were broken. After installation, it became clear that something terrible had happened. But the craftsmen found a way out: they attached pipe sections to the trunk, and small Christmas trees or branches were inserted into them.
The next year, the whole tree was already hedgehog-like: a dead trunk - a pipe with tubes welded along the length, into which small live spruces were inserted to form a crown.

A more advanced modern ersatz Christmas tree is a frame covered with spruce branches, on which various light-dynamic emitters are placed.
Depending on the wealth of the city, the structures differ in size and type of installed lighting. Prototype competitions can be seen on the search engine “pictures of a Christmas tree in the square”.

I suppose that the further evolution of city Christmas trees will lead to the fact that only a blinking cone will remain from the former greatness, for which there will no longer be a need to make large and heavy structures. The cone can be formed with inclined laser beams, and with the help of projectors and a small artificial fog, any fantasy can be projected onto it. Already in the era of the last real Christmas trees, the idea appeared to leave the Christmas tree as it is, and mount the illumination on cables and stretch marks that form a cone around the spruce. Using this technology, any pole can already be turned into the center of a holiday by dropping several cables from the top point in a circle and covering them with fabric. To project the light from the lamps onto the matter from the outside or from the inside. If pipes or a slender house are used instead of a pole, then cables with lamps are enough.
In principle, the idea materialized in a different form - the project "Magic Ball" with a diameter of 3 meters. In it, the Christmas tree is the central element, and the circle is filled with multi-colored light bulbs, symbolizing that the whole Earth revolves and revolves around the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve.

The structure is installed on the roof of the building, and every year it flashes its lights. Automation "Magic ball" is a clone of one of the blocks of the central tree of the city. The magic ball can be easily repeated: the program of work and the effects embedded in it.
All photos - both of the ball and everything related to the New Year's project, are in the album “Zelenodolsk. City Christmas Tree 2006”. The ball project can be used in different designs - but this is not the ball that was mentioned at the beginning of the article, it will be later. Only use lamps with a bulb painted inside, they give a beautiful rich color. Tsaponlak in our time no longer rolls. Particularly impressive on this ball are the overflows of colors that resemble an iridescent gem. In this case, the transparency of the design was beneficial.

Several times they were involved in the creation of New Year's flashing lights on city trees, at first small and real, where one block is enough, and then . ..
As is customary with the city administration, they start searching for a person or company that will ensure the blinking of the installed light bulbs in the last days of November or even in early December. Delivery of the object is usually from 15 to 25 December. Therefore, if there are no developments, then it is almost impossible to have time to do something, if these are not ready-made purchased blocks.
This time, a very interesting and grandiose task was received. Almost the same as what my father did in my childhood, only many times higher and more powerful. There is no time for reflection: on December 1, the task was received, on December 25 everything needs to be launched. Therefore, a day was spent on a preliminary sketch and calculation of costs, on December 2 they shook hands and a New Year's nightmare began to spin ...
Thoughts that haunted until the very launch of the Christmas tree: if I have time - I don’t have time, it will work - it won’t work, how will all this work at such huge powers and in conditions of strong interference, will the effects be beautiful?
Now you already understand that even spaceships sometimes fall, but then throughout the whole work there was a huge responsibility and experience for the result of the work. I had no idea what would happen if any unit failed.

The architect of this Christmas tree was an interesting person and came up with a design that allows you to create many beautiful effects using a variety of lighting fixtures. In addition, all lamps were real incandescent lamps, which gave a beautiful, bright and warm light in the literal and figurative sense. Not like modern LED Christmas trees that shine beautifully, but it’s dark under them.
The total power of lighting fixtures that need to be automated on the Christmas tree and the square was approaching 70 kilowatts. Never had to work with such power.
Structurally, the Christmas tree was a structure with an initial height of 24 or 27 meters - several tiers of 3 meters each. But due to various problems in the manufacture, transportation and installation, the number of tiers decreased, and finally the height became 21 meters. Five tiers (the top one is slightly higher than the rest), a 2-meter crown and top bulbs, as well as 3 meters of elevation above the ground. But even with a shortened design, there were often problems finding a lift to service the upper tiers. I can imagine how difficult the installation of Christmas trees in 2013 in Kazan - 41 meters or in Yekaterinburg - 46 meters, but they were motionless.
The main feature of our Christmas tree is that it rotated !
To do this, the axis of the Christmas tree is installed on a mechanism that sets the multi-ton structure in motion.
The drive was located in the dungeon, where the company was a goat-type heater, it was always dry and warm with it.

The rotating tree was powered by a pair of current leads located on both sides of the copper bus. From the bus, the three-phase voltage rose to the first tier, where there was an input shield and three automation units that controlled the lighting fixtures on the Christmas tree.

A bearing was mounted in the upper part of the tree axle, the outer race of which was fixed with cables and held the structure in a vertical position. Above the bearing, the axis of rotation continued and a top in the form of a hedgehog from numerous light bulbs was installed on it. Judging by the fact that the lamps of the ball were blinking, the axis in the upper part is made of a pipe.

Structurally, 8 ribs and gutters are made along the entire height of the Christmas tree. Powerful searchlights were placed at the bottom of each gutter, which “pierced” it almost to the top of its head. The gutters pasted over with a mirror film were also illuminated by directional mirror lamps.

Four-channel running lights lamps from pre-assembled blanks are mounted on each rib.

Huge colored stars with internal illumination are scattered all over the height of the spruce. Some of them were two-tiered and, accordingly, two-channel, where a small illuminated star was located on top of the same illuminated large star.

In addition, on the square, around the spruce, free-standing metal structures about five meters high were installed - pillars with pipes bent at the top, in the common people - palm trees. The crown of each palm tree was connected to the crown of the main spruce by a three-channel cable with lamps, the same cable through all the crowns encircled the perimeter of the square. We called all these lamps among themselves rays. There should have been 12 tall palm trees around the main spruce, but some of them were not installed, and the pediment of the house of culture was used instead.
This is how the upper part of the palm tree looks like

There were no drawings on lighting engineering. To understand the scale of automation and understand how many light sources are installed, I had to draw the location of all lighting equipment in my favorite CorelDraw:
- Christmas tree, side and top view;
- rays on the square.
Verbal descriptions are always difficult, so I drew everything that could be useful for understanding the work. I tried to maintain the project documentation in the proper form, but it is difficult to keep track of all the changes, so something may differ slightly from what was actually installed.

The main Christmas tree is a huge work of many people. The final result depends on the contribution of each person, and a hitch at any stage can lead to sad consequences.
Everyone works on the Christmas tree - administration workers, architects, artists, schoolchildren. Numerous creative teams are preparing, since the Christmas tree is also an occasion to gather for a festive concert, where there is often a real fireworks display. For the good cause of celebrating the New Year, large working groups are involved, usually free of charge, that is, for nothing.
The master plans for the constructions on the square were held by the developers of the holiday - the main city architects and artists. They always knew what and where to put, so that it was beautiful and according to Feng Shui.

The designer of the frame of the main Christmas tree and lighting equipment was a visiting architect. According to rumors, every year he launched a new version of the Christmas tree design in his city and now he got to us.
I got the creation of control blocks for all this power - the development of electrical circuits, the purchase of components, the assembly of blocks and their installation at the facility, writing the script and programming microcontrollers. Now, seeing such a volume of work, I would not agree for any gingerbread, but then ... Looking ahead, I will say that the developer of the Christmas tree was satisfied with the result, and even presented a book of his poems with a dedicatory inscription. Apparently, he was talented in many areas, as he often talked about medicine, pyramids in the country and a lot of interesting things from different areas.

The frame of the Christmas tree was made at a large factory that produces ships. They did it so well that the multi-ton structure could be rotated by hand, walking around the stage and holding on to the lower tier ...
Electricity: lamps and wires, calculated, purchased and installed the city electrical network. If now the enterprise has been divided into several independent organizations, where it is difficult to understand who is responsible for what, then everything was in the hands of one director, which is very convenient. These are people with excellent knowledge and experience, as well as specialized high-altitude equipment. I had to work especially closely with one very competent engineer at the stage of calculations, load distribution and installation.
Figures for the Christmas tree were made at an art school. Even the chief artist of the city was wielding scissors with might and main, making another masterpiece from reflective paper.
Someone was assembling the stage, the road builders brought mountains of snow for the ice slides, firefighters were running around with hoses - they were rehearsing actions in emergency situations. There was enough work for everyone.
Lighting equipment from duralight on the MAF - small architectural forms (then I heard this term for the first time) was mounted by emerging advertising companies.

Development of electrical circuit.
On the main Christmas tree, in order to evenly distribute power over the three phases of the supply voltage and eliminate phase imbalance, I decided to make three blocks (one for each phase) with 32 control channels (96 channels in total). It was necessary not to make a mistake with the correct definition of the number of channels, since the customer's violent fantasies went off scale and constantly changed.
Wiring diagram for connecting blocks and channel distribution of the main tree.

Chose a PIC18F452 controller in a DIP package that was mounted on a socket. There was no laptop then, and how to work with it in the cold? Spare controllers help, which, in case of an error, allow you to return the working version to its place.
The power element is a triac. If in previous designs I used TS122-25-12, then for a huge number of channels something more modern was required. I used BTB24-800BW with MOC3023 optocoupler control. The controller does not draw such a number of optocouplers, so I had to add the ULN2803A. Two controller outputs are used for the communication line with the master controller, one for the phase start clock signal for phase brightness control. There are no two outputs for quartz, so I used an external SG531PC generator. Channel switches and at the same time short circuit protection are S231 circuit breakers for a current of 10 amperes. The input machine had a rating of 63 amperes. Even with speed class C, the automata saved the triacs from damage several times during startup after mounting the garlands - a huge number of connections when connecting lamps are difficult to make without errors. The result was a simple electrical circuit and a simple one-sided printed circuit board. The advantages of developing and writing programs by one person - you set the signet the way you want.

In addition to the Christmas tree, there were 12 more blocks to control the beams and contour on the square. Each block has three channels, for a total of 36 channels.
I drew an electrical diagram, a printed circuit board describing the principle of adjustment and a wiring diagram for connection.
When the power is connected, these 12 blocks on the poles are also “scattered” over the three phases.

Procurement of components.
Before buying, you should always think: what and how much to take. It is impossible to make a mistake both in type and in quantity, any oversight, in addition to monetary losses, can lead to fatal consequences - there is no time for correction.
I don’t know how it is now, but earlier, in the new year, something unimaginable was happening on the lighting and flashing lights market, so anyone who wants to have time to do everything needs to start work in the summer.
In those years, I had to visit the nearest city to buy radio elements, and more than once - order / pay, then pick it up. Running takes a lot of precious time.
Now, with the purchase of radio components, it has become much easier and more convenient: ordering via the Internet is brought directly to your home or to the nearest post office. Therefore, before buying, it is necessary to draw up a clear and final list of parts with the possibility of replacement with analogues and a small stock of key elements.
Another of the problems of a radio amateur is the case. Many do it on their own, but it is not always possible to achieve a decent look. Therefore, I decided not to save on the body and ordered industrial boxes for the Christmas tree: RH552 cabinets with IP65 protection, in which all the equipment is comfortably located. The box was gorgeous, it had a thick plate for mounting, which, after a little refinement (insulation with ceramic bushings from the case), served as a radiator for the triacs.
I developed the printed circuit board before purchasing the case and planned to place the triacs around the board. But in boxing it was not possible to do this and the triacs had to be placed away from the board. A simple plywood fixture helped to install the wires inside the block, making the bundles twin brothers.

Delivery of triacs was on the verge of all admissible terms, but I was lucky that year.

Scenario and program.
In addition to hardware, the main part of the work in microcontroller devices is occupied by writing programs that actually “revive” this hardware. And the program needs a scenario for the operation of the equipment, or, in our opinion, an operation algorithm.
Before starting work, I assumed that I would go to the developer of the Christmas tree, he would write what and when should be turned on, I would transfer this to the microcontroller, and then it was a matter of technology. For this conversation, he drew the layout of lighting equipment.
But everything turned out to be worse ...
Attempts to ask and understand the control algorithm led to the fact that only one thing became clear - writing the script was given into my hands. At first I did not fully understand this point. There was even a balancing act on the verge of breaking up relations, but short time frames and responsibility reconciled the parties.
I had to become a screenwriter-programmer for a while.
Writing a script is extra time, fantasies and sometimes mistakes in choosing effects. You can spend a lot of time writing a complex effect, but it looks so-so. It is difficult to foresee this on the layout, everything is revealed only on the Christmas tree, which is not yet ready. And it will be ready on the day when it is necessary to hand over the work.
As a result, I threw all sorts of fantasies, based on such thoughts:
- the Christmas tree was an impressive rotating structure, and the effects should be smooth, solemn, without sharp jerks;
- the Christmas tree rotated, so the duration of each effect must be chosen so that viewers located at any point can see the effect in full;
- the design is opaque, and the viewer is at one point, so you can duplicate the effects on the other half of the Christmas tree;
- show all the variety of existing lighting equipment and demonstrate the effects that highlight emitters in a favorable light;
- it is desirable that a large number of elements be turned on at the same time, since light light causes positive emotions;
- use alternating speed of change of effects and direction of movement;
- effects should be understandable and not leave the audience indifferent.

Sometimes it got to the point that the developer, realizing that the deadlines were really very short, said: "Make it so that only something blinks at all."
But the possibilities of lighting technology are very diverse, so I wanted to squeeze the maximum possible. There was a dangerous game between "getting anything done at all" and "getting pretty effects." There was not enough time to write the program, but we managed to make not only a simple lamp switching, but also the effects of a smooth change in brightness, as well as color flow.
I will note the moment of turning on the Christmas tree. To increase the service life of the lamps and prevent their failure in frost, the filament was smoothly heated when power was applied, which is not done even in most indoor lamps. The trouble-free operation of the lamps showed the correctness of such a decision, and now the first effect is always a smooth increase in brightness.

While the components were missing, it was necessary to debug the program first on a three-channel layout,

and only then on a large Christmas tree simulator, which was a set of lamps with a power of 40 W, with enough to fully load all the channels of one of the three blocks.

Lamps were a source of bunnies, light and heat. It is impossible to leave them on for a long time, and as soon as the smell of burnt cardboard appeared, turn it off and write a program. To reduce the impact of pulsed light on the eyes, a sheet of paper had to be used, covering the lamps with it. But all the same, debugging strongly sits down eyesight.
It is difficult to use a lower lamp power, since there is a parameter - the triac holding current.
When writing programs, the problem of overheating of the voltage stabilizer at 5 volts was revealed (it was installed without a radiator). It was possible to solve it by a sharp decrease in the current consumed, giving out voltage to the control optocouplers not constantly, but only for a moment, sufficient to turn on the triac.
First, the program was written for one block, then for the second and third. The idea of ​​​​what a simulator lamp looks like on a real Christmas tree develops a rich imagination.
The day began at five or six in the morning and ended with the appearance of galleys in the eyes, when the bunnies no longer disappeared after the unit was turned off. So that squirrels do not appear along with the bunnies, he went to bed.

Taste and color…
It's hard to predict which effects will look good and appeal to the majority of viewers, and which won't.
Various overflows looked beautiful: inside the bunk stars and between different elements.
Flickering is interesting - when all channels flash for a fraction of a second at random. For the “randomness” task, I wrote the number of each channel on a piece of paper, threw it into a hat, stirred it, and pulled it out in turn, writing down the order in the work program.
People liked the “starfall” - the stars rush down with acceleration, and when they fall, the spotlights at the bottom of the Christmas tree flash and the lighting of the gutters turns on, simulating an explosion.
There was also a reverse effect called "fireworks". The stars flew up, the ball flashed, simulating an explosion, and then the flickering began, reminiscent of fireworks. Unfortunately, it was not possible to catch the moment when there was a real fireworks display with twinkling and the “fireworks” effect on the square in front of the Christmas tree.
Also interesting was the breathing of the Christmas tree, when the brightness gradually increases and then decreases, increasing the rate of increase / decrease with each period.
And of course, the classic, running lights, but complemented by overflow, when the light smoothly “streams” through its channel.

Assembly.
There was more than work on making blocks and writing programs, so he rarely appeared on the Christmas tree. I came to the installation, and there they changed something in the lighting structures, and they didn’t tell me. Naturally, all script work loses its meaning. To a fair remark to the city architect - why didn’t they say? A dissatisfied answer followed - we are mounting here in the cold all day long, and you are sitting there in the warmth!

In an artificial city tree, automation is installed inside in order to reduce the length of the conductors. Therefore, often the favorite question on the phone: “Where are you?” I had to answer: "In the Christmas tree." This is how the panorama of the insides of the first tier looks like.

Electrical installation in the cold, that's another story. Usually they wait for the weakening of frosts, then this will not work here. The Christmas tree should have been burning yesterday, but the frost is not weakening. If you can install a spotlight inside the spruce that both shines and warms (garland assemblers always warmed their hands and electrical tape on it), then there is nothing on the poles with rays. The catalytic heating pad saves. I still have left from the service, and I always regretted that I didn’t buy two then - so that in each mitten. When connecting numerous wires from garlands to the blocks, a special stripping helped to expose the ends of the wires. Electricians did not have this in their arsenal, but I bought it for installation work - it saves a lot of time and nerves.
I gave it to installers - in the cold it is an excellent help instead of a knife and wire cutters, you can work without taking off your gloves.
Since the board with the controller is built into the top of the box, when you open it, it is not visible and everyone asked, what controls the lamps? Only automatic protection devices were visible, occupying almost the entire building.

Even the chief designer of the Christmas tree was surprised. So far, he has launched many different designs, but he has never seen such a compact unit with such capabilities. He said that huge control cabinets were installed on previous Christmas trees (apparently, these are simple garland switches with relays or starters, as he admired the effects of a smooth change in brightness and color flow). For me, these blocks seemed huge after numerous rearrangements and editing.
Probably, here lies one of the answers to the question - why was the order so late? Making a simple garland switch is really easier and faster.

Christmas tree inside.
Each tier of the Christmas tree has a wooden floor with a hatch through which you can travel almost to the top of the head.
Unfortunately, due to lack of time, it was not possible to go upstairs, but the first tier is a permanent habitat for the installation and debugging of the program.
On the first tier, you can clearly see the gutters.

Ribs covered with spruce branches

Ladder leading up

And of course three control boxes entangled with numerous cables. Judging by the width of the block, which was 500 mm, the spruce trunk at the base was made of pipe DN 325.

Launch.
The pre-launch went according to plan. Some lamps did not work due to defects in the sockets and connections. Sometimes, when screwing in, they confused the order of the colors of the lamps, which is immediately noticeable with various effects - the albino always stands out. The shortcomings were quickly eliminated with the help of a lift.
There were no comments on the operation of the automation units on the Christmas tree, however, I managed to do some magic with the effects.
And here comes New Year's Eve. Citizens gathered in the square around the Christmas tree. All participants of the work also arrived at the solemn event. The most crucial moment is coming.
The mayor's speech, the command to turn on ... Everything is fine - spinning, flashing! A great weight off one's mind. The participants sighed with joy and went home to finally relax and celebrate a magical holiday.

Disadvantages, where without them.
Among the shortcomings of the design of the Christmas tree and flashing lights, the following can be noted.
- Drive belts for rotation were non-separable and were laid before the installation of the Christmas tree. They were still tearing up. There was a small margin, but after another belt broke, they tried not to twist the Christmas tree and many people did not even know that it was rotating. The drive belt can also be broken by turning the tree by hand on the lower tier. To prevent this from happening, and for many other reasons, there was always an uncle (then) a policeman nearby. In the future, it is necessary to make the drive collapsible and chain.
- No need to chase the number of effects - just do a little, but so that they are AH!
- There was no synchronization between the garlands on the Christmas tree and the rays on the square. The result is a mix of effects. In my opinion, it's better to just turn on the rays on the square, and do the effects on the Christmas tree. But the customer wanted everything to flash around. Moreover, in the process of work, several big stars migrated from the Christmas tree to the facade of the nearest building, and some people from the administration had the idea to connect them to the management, to which they had to answer quietly and briefly - ENOUGH! As a result, the stars just burned. In the future, for synchronization, you can use the radio channel, as the controller on the Christmas tree rotates.
- Sudden change in light emitting elements and their number. If the Christmas tree somehow managed to correct the program of work, then the news that more than half of the 12 planned beams will not be installed on the square came as a shock to me. Few people were convinced by the arguments that at the same time everything collapses in the lighting design. The result was what happened, there was no way to fix it.

Video about the work of the Christmas tree was not very high quality (it was a long time ago, night, frost, dynamic mode), it is not focused enough and does not convey the color saturation, but you can get a general idea of ​​the work done. In reality, everything looked much cooler and more majestic.
At the time of filming, the rotation of the Christmas tree is disabled - the problem of the belts.
I already wrote about the sudden disappearance of many rays surrounding the Christmas tree, therefore, when watching a video, it’s better not to pay attention to the rays at all, since the program was conceived to work in full force, but the result was torn and torn fragments that spoil the overall impression of the work.
Look at the Christmas tree and the effects (by the way, now I would remove some of them). In general terms, the effects are described here.

An unexpected end.
As always, after such a holiday, a lot of ideas for improving work, new effects, and circuitry appear. But ... the lack of payment from the city administration made further cooperation useless.
So people imperceptibly become sponsors and begin to engage in city charity. Maybe even put on the list of honorary citizens?
Officials justify their bad deed by the fact that there is no written contract. But at that time there was simply no time to deal with a contract: either a contract or work, so I believed the words of people in high positions. The words of the officials turned out to be zilch. In fact, the reason lies, most likely, in something else. Breaking off relations with the previous contractor, the customer, represented by the administration, has the jackpot from the next order. There was no rollback option on my end, and they had to look for other performers. According to rumors, the next year the cost of illuminating the Christmas tree was huge. And although many elements were replaced (including control units), the illumination, according to people, looked primitive.
And in memory of those events, there was a book of poems by the designer of the Christmas tree.

Conclusions.
In order for the work to be done with high quality, and the result to please everyone, preparations for the New Year on city Christmas trees must begin in the summer, and even better - after the New Year.
A huge number of people and equipment work on the Christmas tree. To organize their effective work, it is necessary to have a clear work plan and strict adherence to all deadlines.
When working, there are many problems, inconsistencies, changes, which are sometimes not even reported. For their prompt solution, it is necessary to have a list of those responsible for each area of ​​work and notify them in a timely manner of any changes.
Before agreeing to the execution of an order, be sure to calculate the entire scope of work in order to understand whether it is realistic to complete it within the allotted time? Health is more expensive.
Despite the prestige and interest of any work, it should begin after the signing of the contract. This is especially true of the city administration, whose employees "ate the dog" on the deception of the performers. It was these actions that formed their good financial situation on the one hand, but low trust and negative attitude of the residents on the other.
When working on a Christmas tree, be sure to follow safety precautions and installation rules, otherwise, it will turn out like in Aktau, Karaganda, Bishkek or Sakhalin.

Continued work.
For a long time he abandoned flashing lights, but in recent years he slowly continued to introduce ideas, although it is believed that flashing lights are the initial stage in the development of an electronics engineer. For programmers - “Hello, word”, for electronics engineers - “blink an LED”.
Back in the era of city Christmas trees, he came up with different lighting solutions. For example, a ball that changes its color. Inside the white matte ball are three multi-colored lamps, which are controlled by a microcontroller.
I did it, it works well - those who wish can repeat the design: a circuit and a printed circuit board, effects, a program of work. Such balls: many small ones or several large ones, you can hang on the Christmas tree, and this will be quite a sufficient decoration. The ball can be put on the New Year's table.
I didn’t record a video of the ball’s operation in those years, but now the emitters are outside and the video looks like this.

This design option can be used to illuminate the windows of office buildings at night, which are covered with white blinds and act as a screen. Looks spectacular.
Currently, similar LED lamps have been released (all the filling is hidden in the base) and lamps controlled up to the Internet, but large balls are easier to make yourself. Instead of lamps in a ball, you can use an RGB LED strip.

On the subject of “flashing LED” you can make a lot of interesting designs, everything is limited only by imagination.
For example, my first article on Habré is “Time Lamp” (also a New Year’s design), where you can show the time within the city by blinking the LED. Just in this watch, an RGB LED strip is used. The continuation of the work was a miniature desktop version - "Cube" and projects on a space scale, where the lamp can be placed on the Moon (the most long-range clock),

a spaceship, or in the form of a searchlight, which is visible tens of kilometers from the city.

You can make an original wrist watch that shows the time with a dot. It will be the smallest dot clock in the world, as nothing less can be done.

The Christmas tree came up with the idea to flash a star or the top of its head when a call comes from a cell phone. Then the audience (children, of course) would be able to participate in the blinking process themselves.
In the future, this idea turned into a yet unrealized, but already tested project “Light your star”, where the blinking of an LED can be used to make money on a planetary scale. Some university may well take up this project and launch its controlled supernova into space.

As for city Christmas trees, I like a small, but real Christmas tree, decorated with simple toys and simple garlands - just like in childhood. The main thing is that it should be the center of a memorable holiday, where you can relax and have fun with the whole family.

29 tabletop Christmas trees to instantly transform a small space

They may be small, but these handcrafted tabletop Christmas trees look very stylish wherever you place them. Whether you're decorating your home with a traditional evergreen beauty or a mini Christmas tree you've made, we've got some tabletop Christmas tree ideas that are perfect for any occasion.

Winter's Tale

This tabletop Christmas decoration seems to have come straight out of a snow globe with its icy decor and wandering polar bears. Decorate your wood block with glass icicles and handmade snowflakes. Decorate a sparkling forest or shop for the details, and a handmade paper snowflake tops the stage.

Caramel World

This decoration makes the candies look even more appetizing. Alternate them with glass balls filled with candy sprinkles and hang them on a tinsel tree to add some sparkle to the pastel palette.

Toy Story

This minimalist tree looks sophisticated enough to be placed anywhere, but the tiny teddy bear figures add a special touch to a child's room. Small toys and trinkets make great decor! Yarn balls, wrapped ornaments are very easy and inexpensive to make. Wrap the base of the tree with a scarf and add miniature surrounding trees by wrapping yarn around paper or foam cones and securing with glue.

The Nutcracker Christmas Tree

Iconic moments from The Nutcracker and Swan Lake take center stage in this great Christmas show. Swans, soldiers and crafted gold lace crowns immerse you in a deep blue, red and gold palette. Surround the main tree with a variety of small evergreens. Pretty paper, nutcracker greeting cards and colorful crackers shine in the center. It is a great idea to place small cups around the tree with treats for guests.

Cozy Christmas tree with knitted toys

Stars don't always have to be the main ones. Knitted ornaments take center stage in this cozy tabletop tree. Start with a colorful flowerpot and then work on a woven pattern. Winter holiday colors like red, blue and gray will brighten up your tree and bring warmth and coziness to your New Year's table.

Felt flower tree

This table tree is truly the highlight of the program. Pretty felt flowers and leaves unfurl on a plain white shape. This elegant holiday decoration is truly amazing.

Winter forest

Bottle brush forest is an excellent addition to the festive table. Make this scene with trees, plastic reindeer figurines and snow. Try adding fun accents like a ruby ​​red northern nose and golden antlers.

Paper Christmas Trees

Decorate your front door with a small, colorful piece. These whimsical paper trees are very easy to make and require only a few materials: decorative cardboard, ribbons and stars. Glitter paper gives them that extra shine without the frills!

Fragrant mini evergreen tree

Evergreen trees are like a symbol of Christmas. Buy fresh or artificial - either way, these small trees make great decorations.

Tip: Be a little Santa Claus and add some magic with fake snow, then place them in colorful mini vases.

Pine trees

Plant lemon cypresses in mini containers or tins, then use hot glue to wrap in burlap. A bright red ribbon would be a great addition!

Bottle brush trees

Make them small! These bottle brush trees prove once again that less is sometimes more. Make them as big as possible and place them along with glass Christmas balls to make a beautiful Christmas decoration.

Cupcake Christmas tree

No icing here. These sweet trees require a cone base, scissors, glue, and lots of paper cupcake liners. Alternating layers to give the trees texture and can be made to any height.

Cute Knitted Tree

Create a charming winter look on your dinner table with these crocheted table trees made from old sweaters.

To make a medium tree: insert the cone blank into one sleeve of the sweater with the base of the cone at the cuff. Pull the sleeve tightly around the cone, placing the cuff around the base of the cone. Determine the location of the cut lines so that the sleeve overlaps slightly on the back of the cone. Mark straight cut lines with a ruler and chalk. Remove the sweater from the cone and cut along the lines; glue the sweater to the cone. Add various white buttons to the cone.

To make trees left and right: Cut the sweater down the back from side seam to side seam into strips of approx. . Use hot glue to secure all stripes and glue buttons to each ribbon.

Snow Covered Trees

The neutral hue of these easy-to-make table trees will never go out of style. Draw a sheet on white paper; cut out. Trace the shape of the leaf onto thin cardboard and cut out enough pieces to completely cover the papier-mâché cone (you will need approximately 100 leaves to cover a 30 cm high cone and 150 leaves to cover a 35 cm high cone). Start at the base of the cone and glue the cardboard leaves to the cone in rows, leaving the tips uncurled. Alternate the distance between the leaves so that each tip lies between two leaves in the row below it. Bend the tip of each leaf a little to give volume to the tree. Once you're done gluing, spray the wood with lacquer, then with artificial snow, and shake off the excess.

Place your Christmas tree on the table

Make your Christmas tree do double duty! A mini tree adorned with pine cones and decorations adds to the festive mood. Just add a name tag and secure with twine.

Traditional Christmas Tree

Instead of one tabletop tree, place three side by side and place the center tree on top of a box covered in black cloth for added effect. Decorate classic evergreen trees however you like with elegant glittery snowflakes, red glass balls, white dove figurines and a dazzling star on top.

Painted pine cones

Green colored cones of various sizes look great on the table. Dip the cones in water-based paint; let them dry. Once they are ready to display, place them in white ceramic pots for a classic Christmas decor.

Potted evergreen trees

The smallest Christmas tree is just right for a simple dinner table decoration. A color scheme of light green and light blue adds warmth to the tiny evergreen decoration, while additional evergreen branches strategically placed around the two pots accentuate the shimmering orbs.

Cardboard Christmas Tree

Use our free template to create your own inexpensive cardboard Christmas decoration. Outline the edges with satin ribbon for a pretty design. You can proudly place such Christmas trees anywhere in your home.

Felt Christmas Trees

Create a Christmas tree trio fit for a winter wonderland with this cozy idea. Cut out leaf shapes from light felt. Use hot glue to attach the shapes to the felt-covered cones, starting at the base and working your way up to mimic the look of heavy snow-covered branches by gluing the felt leaves in random order as shown.

Sparkling white Christmas tree

An artificial white Christmas tree, decorated with strings of lights and a few shiny balls, is a special delight. Try using a wicker basket as a base. The basket will hold the tree steady, giving it a rustic look.

Blue Silver Christmas Tree

Take some cut branches from your yard and make mini Christmas trees out of them. Secure the branches in a container of Styrofoam and top with moss. Decorate your mini tree with painted cones glued to branches, velvet (or real) acorns, silver stars and a beautiful blue chiffon ribbon.

Wooden Christmas tree

Make a plywood Christmas tree for fun. Apply a coat of green paint and let dry. Write holiday-inspired messages on trees with chalk, and "plant" them in little boxes filled with artificial snow.

Candy Tree

These crystallized candy cones are a fun alternative to the traditional tabletop tree. To make the cones, lay three long horizontal rows of candy in three or more colors on parchment, placing the rows together. Pour the lightest color on the top of the parchment, the middle color in the center, and the darkest color on the bottom. Wrap light cardboard around the foam cone, slightly overlapping the paper at the back of the cone and securing it with hot glue. (Note: Do not apply glue to the cone or it will melt. Larger cones may need two sheets of paper to completely cover.) Spread the glue over the cones and roll them in candy; let dry. If necessary, repeat the operation to completely cover the cones with candies. Fill small gaps with hot glue and manually fill with candy.

Rustic Tree

Create an old style Christmas tree in a copper pot. Decorate the tree with simple paper ornaments and place a stack of old books next to it for a rustic feel.

Feather tree

Decorate your home with this feather tree decorated with jingle bells hanging from a blue ribbon. Add the colors of winter, set up a Christmas tree in a galvanized bucket; focus on blue and silver jewelry, located among not a lot of greenery.

Paper cones

Conical shapes turn into a forest, just roll handmade paper into tall cones. For a pretty arrangement, vary the patterns and heights, then glue a gold bead to the top of each cone.


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