An artist friend wrote to me and said, "I saw a video on lighted Christmas balls made out of chicken wire, and thought these would look cool in your trees for winter...maybe next year..?
I thought, why not this year! I decided to try something different, more on the order of a Tiffany style lampshade.The primary intent of this blog was to teach my students how I made these fixtures so that they could offer them for their customers that own Living Tree Art. I decided to share it with everyone because others are likely to realize more applications by combining aspects of techniques used for lighted Christmas balls and what is applied here. So, here's the process for anyone that wants to learn. Here is a list of what you will need:
- Wire cutters
- 4" Cable (zip) ties
- Christmas tree lights
- Extension cord
- Chicken wire (a.k.a. poultry netting)
First, the chicken wire. Here's what I used. Start by cutting the chicken wire down the center of a row. Bend the little wire extensions to the side. This will allow you to continue to work without getting scratched by the sharp edges of the freshly cut wire. Here's what that looks like. Fold the wire over on both ends several times. This adds stiffness.
The total length of the chicken wire should not be more than 25 inches.
Lay two of these lengths on top of each other so that you create an eight pointed star with all points extending out equally. This is the reason why you cut the lengths to end up not more than 25 inches in length.
Next, connect the two layers together using the 4 inch cable ties (zip ties) in the locations as shown in the photo to follow.
Pay no attention to that DooDad in the center. This is a special fixture that was designed to hold pumpkins for a Halloween display on this same tree. It is being used here to serve a dual purpose. If you don't have a Living Tree Art tree in you yard, don't worry about it. You can suspend these light fixtures just as is described on the website for lighted Christmas balls. Here's a photo collage showing how this device was used to create the Halloween display for this same tree. Faces were cut on both sides of the pumpkins so that it presented a display when traveling from two directions.There are a number of different fixtures that can be used by Living Tree Art owners to change their display. Here are a number of display changes that were done over the past couple years to this same tree.
In the summertime, bolt-on rings hold pots of flowers. In this case, the flowers are Raspberry Blast Supertunias. Other fixtures allow for the attachment of tumbleweeds or pine boughs. Here's another view of this same tree using Giant Pink Supertunias.
BTW, all Living Tree Art trees 8 feet tall or taller have an internal plumbing system that's programmable to water the plants automatically. This tree is ten feet tall. Back to the light fixture procedure.
Flip the wire assembly over to the other side. With your fingers, crease the wire at the locations about halfway up to the center starting at the points where you secured the wire ties so as to create a flower shape. Next comes the lights. Here is what I used.
With a zip tie, secure the start of the lights in the location as shown in the photo above.
Following the lines created by the wire, stretch the wire over the humps and connect at the shallow insets of the flower.
Continue like this, connecting the wire bundle at the same inset locations. In this first revolution, you will have used up one third of your lights. Here's a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates what's going on in this step. http://youtu.be/AHcn9Z5CHIc
Keep wrapping the lights upward in a spiral fashion so that the main strand is 2-1/2 inches apart. This will ensure that the very last of the string of lights will end near the top. Push the terminal plug into a hole near the top center. Weave all the dangly strands under the spiraled wire and within the mesh so that the ends of the dangles will protrude outward and upward at the edges. This is what it should look like when you are finished.
After it was dark, I did my first test in my dining room with the fixture sitting on top of my tripod. Kind of makes for a pretty lamp.
Thought it looked good to go, so here's another view of the finished tree from a different angle with seven of these fixtures mounted onto the pin posts located at the ends of each of the branches. This tree is located next to the federal building and post office in downtown Marquette, Michigan.
Here's a TV News story about the new display right after it went up.
"Dare to bark up the wrong tree, and always go out on a limb."
To learn more about what is involved in making Living Tree Art check out these other blogs:
To take a course on how to make large Living Tree Art as shown in this blog, or to make table-top size Living Tree Art go to: