How to Make Sisal Bottle Brush Trees - From Scratch! DIY Craft Tutorial
Published July 14, 2017
Here's a fun craft project for Christmas: How to make sisal bottle brush trees - from scratch! In this tutorial I'm using green sisal fiber, some floral wire, and a couple clothespins to make some woodsy rustic bottle brush trees for holiday decorating.
The sisal fiber is available here, and you can get floral wire just about anywhere. I tried a few different gauges of wire, and liked 20 gauge the best. It's thin enough that it's still easy to twist, but sturdy enough to keep my trees straight and upright. I'm sure you could use different types combs to brush out the fibers. I just happened to have an old pet flea comb with metal teeth that worked wonderfully, as the teeth are very close together, and could withstand some vigorous brushing.
You can use lots of different items for tree trunks: wooden discs, branch slices, old knobs or ornaments, thimbles, etc, etc! Have fun creating something unique.
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- Green sisal fiber found here (I was able to make about a dozen 4-6" trees with one bag)
- 20 gauge green floral wire
- Wire cutters
- 2 wooden clothespins
- Sturdy comb
- Branch slice or other items to use as trunks
- White glue, glue brush
Step 1: Unspool about 2 feet of floral wire, and bend it in half. Insert a wooden clothespin at the halfway point, and twist the wires together 3 or 4 times to secure the clothespin in the wire. Allow about 8 inches of space, and then twist the wires together again, another 3 or 4 times. Now, insert the second clothespin, and twist the ends of the wire together to secure. Cut off any excess wire.
Step 2: Unfold some sisal fiber, and pull away a long piece. Pull the fibers to straighten and align them. You can work in small batches, pulling out straight bits of fiber, and then stacking them to make a uniform pile. Once you have a long, straight handful, fold it a few times so that it's about 4 inches wide, and cut off the folds so you are left with a stack of 4-inch long fibers.
Step 3: Insert the bundle of fibers between the two wires. Spread the fibers out evenly between the clothespins, leaving about 1/2 inch of open wire at either end. The thickness of fiber is ideally about 1/2 inch.Thicker piles of fiber are harder to work with, but make trees that are more dense. However, if there is too much fiber, the wire will not twist all the way. It may be easier to experiment with thinner piles, and then work up to thicker trees.
Press the wires together to help hold the fibers in place so you can lift up your contraption to twist it.
Step 4: Begin twisting the clothespins in opposite directions. After about 8-10 twists, stop to fluff the fiber so that it doesn't tangle. Use a comb to gently tease out any tangles and free clumped fibers. Be a little ginger with the tree at this point, as the fibers are not fully secured yet by the twisted wire.
After a little combing, add a few more twists, and then comb again.
After about 15-20 twists, check to see how secure the fibers are. If you can tug them without them coming out, you're done twisting. Use wire snips to cut the wires, leaving a little wire tail at either end to hold onto.
Step 5: Now, hold onto the wire end, and give the tree a good raking with the comb in both directions. You want to remove any loose bits, even out the form, and straighten all of the fibers. Lots of fiber will come out. Once you have a uniform and tidy cylinder of fiber, snip off one of the wire tails. This will be the top of the tree.
Step 6: Use scissors to begin forming the cone shape of the tree. Start at the bottom with the scissors angled toward the top of the tree. Cut diagonally, and turn the tree a little with every snip. It's like cutting hair- go easy, and make small changes rather than drastic chops.
Once you have the basic shape defined, give the tree another good brushing to reveal loose strands. Then cut again to refine the shape.
Step 7: Shorten the wire tail, and glue it into the wooden trunk or your chosen base.