Saturday, December 17, 2011

~Christmas Workshop~ Boxwood Topiary

It's a good thing...or is it?

Oh my!  What I thought would be a rather simple holiday craft project ended up turning into a long and tedious process dealing with the boxwood rather than pine, fir, or spruce. Boxwood is the most common landscaping tree/shrub planted for topiary (shaping) purposes. Think of topiary as a process similar to trimming hair. You see, I'm one of those moms that trims their children's hair in a way that promotes snickers, gasps and strange looks. Ever notice Gabriel's recent haircut?  Nevertheless, I keep at it thinking that I will one day gain enough experience to trim my children's hair to at least a Supercuts standard.  I know, I'm dreaming.

So how did I come across the mini-topiary Christmas tree idea? Well, my Dad was in the process of graciously donating a few minutes rearranging my cookbook shelves, by author and category, when Dad  discovered a certain medium-sized book. He pulled it half way from the shelf  exclaiming: "Hey, this is pretty neat", in an inquisitive tone. It was from my Martha Stewart cookbooks collection, entitled:  Martha Stewart's Christmas (1986). Dad handed over the book. Enthusiastically, I responded, "Oh my god, it is! I forgot about that."

Skimming the pages, I came across Martha's Wreaths and Topiaries chapter of that book, and turned to the topiary subheading. Martha wisely suggested fashioning mini-topiaries employing chicken wire as a framework for the foliage. I sketched out my design then and there. After that, I immediately headed outdoors to find some discarded chicken wire that I fortunately had on hand...lucky me.

                                                                           Photo Gallery

After finding the chicken wire, I used heavy wire cutters to obtain a generous hunk of the hexagonally woven wire.When handling chicken wire, Martha warns that stray ends of sharp wire could puncture your hands, so wear protective gloves (gloves with thick leather or synthetic palms are best).

Not only was I fortunate enough to have some scrap chicken wire on hand, but I also have four boxwood trees growing on the west side of our house! Obviously, that means that this project will be a challenge for those not having the required materials so conveniently at hand (check the craft stores for substitutions). The boxwood trees were in need of trimming so I got to work. The clippings provided fodder for my topiary project.

The boxwood cuttings were then placed into the roughly shaped wire frame. At this point it does not matter 
how it looks.


The wire mesh was manipulated into a conical, conifer shape. After more pieces of boxwood were tucked into the openings, the tree was clipped into shape. With my gloved hands, I tucked the stray ends inward to prevent anyone from being punctured by the stiff, needle-like ends of wire. The topiary underwent several "haircuts" and color changes before I was satisfied with its contours.

  The spray paint was from my Good Things post where I converted ceramic tiles into coasters.  I used two  colors of leftover spray paint from that project.  This part was done in my garage with the garage door open without the kids present.  

Gabriel is smelling the tree to see if it smells fresh.  It obviously smelt of spray paint. Not what the little guy expected.

The battery-powered lights are left-over from my Halloween "lit-up cauldron" October project. The topiary tree is now aglow.

You know, I just wasn't happy with the shrubby lines of the topiary.  It needed better contours, I thought.

Now the tree has a more slender shape. After some thought, I decided to change the color from gold to copper. The gold cushiony fabric star tree-topper shown here replaces the silver dried starfish tree-topper, both of which are heirlooms from my toddler my own toddlers enjoy it. Happy crafting.

~Tree Topsy Turvey~

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