Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Christmas Tree Flocking

This year after buying our Christmas tree and starting to decorate it, I just felt it needed something.   I wanted something a little different than the last few years without a big expense.  I instantly thought about flocking my little tree and knew there had to be a cheap, less toxic way to do it at home.  

Guess what? There is!
And it cost less than 5 dollars and takes less than 5 minutes to make! :)
I perused through a many websites and combined info and tips to discover this fantastic idea.  I found a few recipes for homemade snow, though not many real good instructions. I am excited to do this tutorial to show what I have learned about this easy, fun idea!  I also want to set the record straight about some of the tips I read online, which I found unnecessary as well.   This is what worked for me, at least.  And I have a few pictures to show you as well, (which is what was lacking on most other websites I went to.)

The recipe I went off of used:
1 bar of Ivory soap (grated)
3/4 cup laundry starch
4 Tblsp warm water
blue food coloring ( a few drops to give it shine)
glitter (as desired)
(makes about 3 cups of snow)

I love how inexpensive this recipe is, when a can of flocking spray can cost a lot and has bad fumes.  
And even though a bottle of laundry starch only cost about $2.38 at Walmart, I discovered you can make your own with one heaping tablespoon of regular cornstarch to 2 cups of cold water. 
(Cornstarch clumps in warm and hot water. You probably know this from making gravy! )  
The corn starch mixture probably will cost you a nickel. :)
This project is less than $5!

Even though I didn't flock all of my tree, I still wanted lots of green, I found it helpful to double this recipe (twice) to have enough for my whole tree.  The above recipe would make a good amount for a wreath or craft project but not very much for a full Christmas tree.  

My revised recipe:
4 bars of ivory soap grated
3 cups of cold water with added 1 1/5 Tablespoons of cornstarch
1 cup hot water
5 minute Step by step process:
1) Grate your bar (s) of Ivory soap  (easier than cheese)

2) In a mixing bowl, pour in your cornstarch/ or laundry starch liquid along with the grated soap.  

3) Add  hot water as you begin mixing.  I mixed it with the whisk beater for about 2 minutes, until you get the texture of lumpy shaving cream foam. 
It is then suggested to add the food coloring and glitter, but these are optional. I didn't find the food coloring to change anything much and I didn't want to add too much and have it look "blue".  Also, I think it is better to add glitter later; not in the mix --or it gets a little drowned out.  (unless you have lots of glitter to spare!)  

4)  Immediately begin by rubbing it along your branches.  I wanted a natural winter look, and wanted it thicker and thinner on different branches.  Starting inward toward the trunk, take a handful of "snow" and apply it all the way to the tip of the branch. If you want it thick, just dab it on as thick as you like. It only shrinks a litte when dry. 

This is a funny picture of me, but its the one my kids took of me. :)

Apply like this or play with it to your liking.  Then if you want to sprinkle with glitter, I would do it once it is on the tree so it shines on top.  I wished I had some of the white shimmer glitter, but my girls used some silver glitter that we did have.  It is pretty too. :)

Then let it dry overnight, although the thin parts will be dry in an hour! 
Then I decorated my tree. But I am going to defy all other directions out there by saying you can even do this AFTER you decorate!  
Of course, that depends on the amount of flocking you want, but if you like it in the amount I put on mine, then you can work it around your Christmas decorations.  That way it doesn't flake off as you light and decorate your tree.  Next year, if I do this, that's what I'll do, since I had to do a little touch up after I decorated.  And no, with this technique, you do NOT have to wear a mask or take your tree outside.  It's like playing with shaving cream!  I just laid a sheet down on the floor to catch any drops, but it really was not that messy and very easy. My kids helped too and it still stayed pretty contained. 
I was so pleased at how quickly I could pull this off!  15 minutes from start to finish, and even less my second round! 
Here are some after photos to give you an idea of how it looks.  I personally love it!
photo overload:

Ta-Da! :)


Karin said...

I love that! It seriously makes your tree look so great. I am going to have to try that next year.

themissymom said...

We did this to our tree one year when all of my children were still at home. It was fun and looked beautiful. It also smelled wonderful, the bright clean soap smell mixed with a fresh pine tree smell was better than any candle or air freshener you could buy!

Sherry Thecharmofhome said...

Oh, I love that is looks snowy but then you had me at Glitter!!
Yah! I am trying this on a wreath and a garland! Thanks for posting!

Elizabeth Blessing Deuson said...

Will it store until next year, or should it be removed before storage?

Melissa said...

Hi Elizabeth. This flocking will flake off and need to be reapplied the following year if you chose. So, it's not permanent but luckily it's not too hard to reapply! :)

Elin Tachin-Livio said...

I just finished flocking my Christmas tree. Thank you for posting. My tree looks beautiful.:)

Rachel Finch said...

Totally doing this for our tree! Thanks for the tutorial!

John Eric Lavapie said...

What if i want it back to a totally green tree? Is it washable? And can use this technique to an artificial tree?

Stephanie said...

John- I was thinking about this same thing and here's what I came up with- Haven't tried it yet though! All the ingredients are water soluble I would imagine you could take the artificial tree out side and flake off the big chunks then put the pieces in the bath tub and run water over the branches to finish cleaning off the soap starch mixture. make sure it is completely dry before storing it away though-you don't want to have the metal parts of the tree rust.

Stephanie said...

That should say the Pieces of the tree. After posting I realized the sentence sounded weird! Sorry about that. SB

Krysta Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krysta Wilson said...

Can you remove it before you put your tree up for the year??

Stephens Shelley said...

We have done this since I was a child in my house (early 80's), but we simplify it even more - we simply use Tide laundry powder and warm water mixed to your desired consistency and apply just as you instructed. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories!

Maschel said...

Stephens Shelley, do you not use cornstarch...just tide and water?

Megan said...

In the recipe posted... Did you switch from the laundry starch to cornstarch?

CMG said...

I am 71 years old and my mother and I used to do this to our Christmas trees when I was a little girl. Our tree was always the most beautiful. The only thing we did different was to use Ivory Flakes washing soap, which came in a box and I don't remember adding corn starch. I remember beating the Ivory and water up with a hand beater. Then we, too, would sprinkle glitter on the branches after the soap was applied. Fond memories!

Patricio Donoso Vergara said...

Gracias amiga, aunque hablo español, recurrí a un traductor para hacer tu receta. La verdad quedó genial lo hice con jabón blanco que tiene aroma a pino, mi casa huele a navidad. Lo recomiendo, dura toda la navidad. Saludos desde Arica - Chile. Feliz Navidad 2015

Diane Turner said...

I can hardly wait to try this on my tree this year. Thanks for your idea.