Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Halloween Bottle Brush Trees Tutorial

There are 2 posts today for those of you reading on a feed reader, don't miss the other post!
Since I made the pastel bottle brush trees well before I started blogging, I tried to take pictures of the process to make a better tutorial on how to do this. If you make trees, please add them to the Flickr group ! (If you need help doing that, email me.)

And if you use photos or just use the tutorial, I would appreciate links back here. :-) (If you need help making a link, let me know, I am happy to help you do that.)
Here is what my package of trees looks like. There are 21 in the bag, and I paid $12.99 for them. They will be in the section of the craft/home decor type places where the small stuff for train layouts are.
This is the first bleach soak. I used hot water and 1/4 of a 24 ounce bottle of Clorox bleach.
And the second soak, with hot water and the remainder of the 24 ounce bottle of bleach. Some trees need a lot more bleach and a lot longer to soak. Give it time. I had to let this batch soak for about 2 hours.

Some trees still required rubbing in the bleach. Do yourself a favor and use rubber gloves! (I had had to superglue some of cuticles which split after doing this since I don't own rubber gloves. Stupid of me.)
Now you have bleached trees. Rinse the bleach off them well.
Prepare the dye baths. I used pyrex bowls filled with hot water. If the dye is powdered, I poured in half the package. Add a tablespoon of salt and stir. I used Rit dyes in black, sunshine orange and golden yellow.
To get the multicolored effect you are going to have to overdye the trees. Dip the tree first in the yellow, leaving the top portion of the tree in it's natural, undyed state. You will be dying the bottom 2/3's of the tree.

Once the yellow is your desired shade, move to the orange dye and dip the bottom 1/3 of the tree. You will be dying the orange OVER the yellow on the bottom of the tree.
The overdying gives you the candy corn effect.
To get black and orange you will also overdye the tree. Drop the whole tree in the orange first. Once it is dark enough you will move onto the black. To dye the top of the tree black hold the tree upside down in the black dye so that only the top of the tree is in the dye. When it is dark enough (the black dye takes a long time, pull up a chair while you wait), let it drip for a few minutes before moving onto dying the bottom or the black dye will run down into the middle and muck up the orange.

Then dye the bottom 1/3 of the tree by holding that portion of the tree in the black dye.
Let them dry overnight.

A few more hints: the very small trees did not take very well to the black/orange method. The top of those trees does not hold the black dye well for some reason.

Paint the white stands black with simple black acrylic paint.

When adding your embellishments, use hot glue! It holds the objects in the bristles the best.

If you have problems or it seems like something is missing, let me know. Happy creating!

You can see all of the finished trees here! .


  1. I can't wait to find more trees. Target was just starting to put out christmas this morning when I was there. Next week I am going on a girls shopping trip to Springfield and Branson. I hoping for luck there to find trees.

    Thanks for the pictures and instrustions on multi color trees.

    I had some paste food coloring of orange and Black. I tried it on two small trees, looks pretty good. I'll have to take a finished pic of them. Not brighlty colored, just spooky for Halloween.


  2. a great idea! thnaks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Soo fun!! I loved your christmas bottle brush trees tutorial, and this is even more fun!! Btw! Adored the photos of Jack in the pumpkin fields!!!

  4. What a GREAT idea! I am going to have do bleach and re-dye some for Christmas too...I am thinking Aqua trees!

  5. AAAAAAHHHH! You've done it again! I've seen the candy corn style trees in catalogs for a couple of years now but never even thought of making my own, even though I used your method on some for Christmas. Oh my gosh, they are so cute! I will have to hop over to Michael's to see if their trees are out yet. These would be a perfect addition to the Halloween swap I'm putting together right now!

    Thanks so much for sharing and for the great tutorial!

  6. Wow Sarah! You just amaze me. These are ADORABLE!!!

  7. Oh my gosh, Sarah! I love those!!!

  8. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Great tutorial! I love the effect this gives.

  9. I love this. My favorite is the candy corn with the little glass ornaments.

  10. I've never seen bottle trees like these before and it was a very interesting post seeing how you made them.
    Hope your hands get better after coming into contact with that bleach though!

  11. Good Gosh Sarah! Those trees are absolutely adorable!

  12. You beat me to it! I bought more little trees last weekend in preparation for an attempt at recreating the runaway success of the Technicolor Christmas trees! Now, I see you've done the hard part and figured out which colors of dye to use. As always, Sarah, terribly inspirational - thanks!

  13. Love them - so much that I have put them on Cuteable today http://cuteable.com/

  14. oh my this look super fun and messy too...over here in the UK we just don't go in to halloween in a big way so its fun to see all the crafty stuff you can do...

  15. I Love it! Thank you for sharing! The Halloween trees are great. I am thinking pink and aqua for Gina's room for Christmas! She wanted some from Target last year, but I just knew there was a way to make them :) Thanks again.

  16. You are brilliant!! And since I made the pink and blue ones last Christmas, using your method, I will definitely have to try my hand at these!!

    Brilliant, I say, brilliant...


  17. Those are freaking awesome! Heidi mentioned them to me and what did I find when I went to the thrift shop today, but 2 large bottle brush trees for $1! I am defiantly going to try these!@

  18. Anonymous7:14 PM

    These are awesome. Ever since I saw your Christmas ones in your archives, I've been wanting to try this.

  19. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Oh. My. Goodness. What a great idea!

  20. Anonymous5:39 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. Anonymous1:44 PM

    These are beautiful! I just found your blog today so I have no idea what the pastel trees you refer to look like, but I can just imagine and I am off to find photos of those on your blog if I can. Thank you for sharing instructions!


  22. Oh I love these!! Thanks so much for posting this tutorial.

  23. Hey girl, these are AWESOME! I'm tooting my horn for you, too!

  24. Great tutorial, thanks!

  25. Oh these are FABULOUS! I'll be linking to them. I just LOVE your blog, so much crafty goodness!

  26. Hi Sarah!
    I heard, for me, an "urban legend" last winter about a fabulously smart gal who could dye bottle brush trees any color her heart desired! I am sooo glad I have finally found you! You are sooo smart. I love figuring out things but this is THE BEST!

    I adore the cream and pink trees, and plan for aqua, BUT your Halloween trees take the PUMPKIN PIE!!! I love what you have done!!! Thank You so very much for sharing this technique with all of us!

    * I have a QUESTION: Can you use the other brand of bottle brush trees with the wooden basses found at Hobby Lobby and Michaels? They have bits of "snow" on them and also have wreaths available.

    I greatly appreciate your expert advice! I am telling you, you are THE PRINCESS OF TALENT AND KINDNESS:)

    With Kindness,

  27. What a wonderful addition to anyone's halloween decor!

    Thank you for the amazing tutorial!


  28. What a GREEEEAT tutorial !!! LOOOOVE them!! I'll totally be making some!! :)

    Thanks so so much for visiting my blog!!! :)

    I'll be visiting you often as well!! :)

    Happy Fall!!
    xoxo Jenny

  29. what an amazing tutorial! i am totally going to make these!

  30. Hi Sarah! DARLING trees! I too have hand dyed them for several years but never shared my secrets on how to..haha Secrets out! I think I use more bleach than you so I will have to adjust it and see how that goes. DARLING trees!! I just did some candy cane pink and cream ones for a swap partner. I will post in a month when the swap is delivered.

    Fab blog..I am off to link you..


  31. Hi!
    I finally completed something, I added to your Bottle brush trees!
    Thank you soooo MUCH for the Tutorial, that I referred to a billion times. I had a great deal of fun making these!

  32. Wow! I just saw these trees and wondered how you got them in different colors!!!!! Now I know! This is great! Thank you so much!

  33. Anonymous12:05 AM


    This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at mamanjackjack.blogspot.com.

    Can I use some of the information from your post right above if I give a link back to your site?


  34. linking with credit is always fine with me John!

  35. jeaniee11:19 PM

    Thank-you for sharing your technique and finished projects, it was great seeing other bottle brush tree outcomes.I like some of the trees so much after the bleaching I haven't tried dyes yet.jeaniee

  36. These are so adorable. Thank you so much for offering this tutorial to us.
    Prim Blessings,

  37. These are so cute. Have you used glitter on the trees? If so how do you put it on the edges?


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