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 Post subject: Sisal Bottle Brush Trees
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:41 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:22 am
Posts: 52
Materials -
1. 1/4" sisal rope.
2. 18 gauge galvanized wire.

What I've tried -
1. Sisal and Jute twine. I found the rope to have less tangles and knots and easier to cut and comb out. The twine seemed to use fibers of a lower quality in general. The Jute twine was not stiff enough and difficult to comb out.

2. 22 and 20 gauge green floral wire. 18 gauge aluminum craft wire. Found them to lack the strength and/or stiffness to twist tight enough to properly spread the sisal fibers before breaking. If you were doing smaller/tiny trees or using less sisal for a sparser tree these might work ok.

The photos will give you an idea of how I loaded the fiber onto the wire. I have a couple of things I'd like improve -

1. I think I can make cardboard jigs to preload the fibers into before threading the wire through. Hoping to work on that this week. Keeping the fibers from scattering around is a time killer.
2. If the jibs for the fibers work, I believe the wire can cut, looped and dropped onto hooks instead of eye bolts. I think a wood plank with pegs to wrap the wire around after it's threaded around the fibers will accomplish this.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:22 am
Posts: 52
Stuff I found important -

1. I seem to lose about an inch on the trees consistently when they're twisted. Adjust your layout to accommodate for it.

2. Allowing for the shrinkage in the wire is crucial to getting a nice tight spiral. Currently that's being done by loosening the nut on the eye bolt. I tried using a compression spring and some washers. Effective, just need to find the right size and tension.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:08 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:22 am
Posts: 52
What I found important -

1. Rough cut the shape and use a nylon brush to fluff out the fibers.
2. Dip the tree into boiling water for about 30 seconds. You'll see the fibers straighten out. Set it aside to dry.
3. Once it is dry. Hit it with the nylon brush again and finish trimming. I found trying to brush or cut it while still wet led to having to trim it again once it dried.

Hope this info. helps and hopefully draws out some ideas to improve them. I'll be adding info. on dying, adding snow and bases when I get to them and get some decent pictures.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:22 am
Posts: 52
What I've tried so far with dying and adding snow that I believe will be the way I go -

1. Combination of Dark Green and Blue liquid RIT fabric dye in a jar.
2. Pine dowel rod dipped in scarlet RIT dye. I think this looks better overall than paint. I found the paint to be a little too "new" looking.
3. White house paint in a shallow wide container. Roll the tree tips in the paint. It seems to give that random look of the older trees without clumping too much. I tried brushing and sponging it on but didn't like the way it made the tips clump together.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:35 pm
Posts: 711
Great job explaining all the steps and the pictures are a big help!!

Thanks for putting this all together. I am looking forward to the next steps.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:46 pm
Posts: 1438

Way to go!...I believe your wood base jig will be a good idea...but the one have is getting the job done...

About the red bases you mention...YES!...RED!...


PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 am 

Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:58 pm
Posts: 558
Incredible. Your trees are looking so good. I can't wait to try this. You (and your son) work through these like it's a science experiment. I am going to be making more trees now.

Thank you.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:53 pm 

Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 3:00 pm
Posts: 49
What a great tutorial! I have never tried making a tree but feel like I could attempt it now. Thanks for sharing your work!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:40 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:17 pm
Posts: 752
Location: Portland OR
I agree, AWESOME tutorial, the trees look AMAZING!! Thanks for posting!!

PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:03 pm
Posts: 10
This tutorial inspired me to make some trees of my own. In Mexico, they extract the sisal from the century plant in the mountains and make a fine hand made rope for cowboys. I found a plant here in Texas and extracted some sisal for my little project. I can’t say I would reccommend anyone to try doing the same, but it is nice to have nice straight white sisal for the trees!

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