Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back To School Tree-Mini Tutorial

It is hard to believe that summer is almost over! My oldest son Ben starts Kindergarten this year and we're very excited! I wanted to celebrate this event, so I decorated a pencil tree in a "back to school" theme!
This will be my first mini tutorial. I guess it's not really a tutorial, but just some helpful tips to help you decorate your own back to school tree on a budget.

Here are some basic supplies. I forgot to take a photo of my ribbon. I used about two spools of ribbon. One that had polka dots, and the other, which is my favorite ribbon, looks like a ruler! Very cute for a back to school themed tree! :)

Besides ribbon, you'll need a box of chalk (12 count), 2 bags of mini chalkboard ornaments (found at Joann's), 2 rulers, and a white gel pen for writing on the mini chalkboards. You could also use white acrylic paint, but I found the gel pens are much easier to write with.

In the above photo notice the pink marks on the ruler. That is where my husband cut the ruler in three places. He cut right above the three ring binder holes. We cut it this way so we could skip the step of drilling a hole in the ruler to hang it from. This way is quicker and your ornament is ready to string with ribbon immediately!

In the photo below is the cut rulers, but really you only need about two. Each ruler makes three ornaments, and I found that six was enough to decorate the tree adequately. The rulers were $.50 a piece at Walmart. Just a little tip.... before you cut the ruler, use pliers to remove the metal strip that is along the long edge of the ruler.

I also made salt dough pencil ornaments to decorate the tree. A great recipe for salt dough ornaments can be found here. It's amazing what salt, flour and water can make!
This recipe was enough for about 10 ornaments. Plus I actually made two cupcake ornaments as well in the batch. So you can get about 12 small ornaments out of the batch. They were fairly easy to make. I just rolled a ball of dough into a log and pinched and rolled the end of it to make a pencil point. I then took a butter knife and made the groves of the pencil and stuck a wire in for hanging. They baked in the oven, came out cooled and then I painted them in about an hour! Easy peasy! :) Before I painted them my husband said: "They don't look like pencils!" I kind of agreed, but I had a vision in my head, and I'm sooo glad that I didn't abandon the craft! I love how they turned out! Very stubby and cute!

I painted them with several coats of acrylic paint and left them to dry. After they were completely dry I rubbed on a stain and then sprayed them with a clear coat of varnish. When they were completely dry (front and back) I tied on a ribbon to complete the look. I just love how they turned out!

I topped the tree with a faux apple that I got at Joann's, but you could also use the kind from the Dollar Tree. They are cheaper at the Dollar Tree and in my opinion the same quality. To get it to sit on the top of the tree, I hollowed out the apple with a pair of scissors. You could also use a knife, but be very careful. They are usually made of foam, so they are rather easy to hollow out. You don't need to make a very big hole, just keep trying it out and see what fits on your particular tree.
I also used this method with the small faux pumpkins that you can find around Halloween. They make a cute topper for a Fall themed tree!
The little chalkboards that I mentioned came from Joann's craft store. They are very inexpensive and come in a package of three for $1.49. They are 2"x3" in size and you can do soo much with these! I used six on my tree and wrote things like "1 +1=2" and "CAT" and the boy's names. The added bonus is that these are already ornaments and are ready to hang instantly! I love when I can accomplish something quickly!

Like I mentioned above I used a white gel pen to write on the chalk boards. I'm sure if you had one of those cool chalk pens you could probably do the same thing, but wipe it right off instead! I am sooo drooling over those chalk pens, I hope to buy some someday! I have used white acrylic paint in the past on the chalkboards, but it's a lot harder to write nicely with a paint brush! The plus side to using gel pens is that if you mess up you can quickly wipe it off with a damp papertowel!
Here is a look of the chalkboard ornament hanging on the tree.
I also mentioned that I used a box of 12 count white chalk. Yes this is real chalk. It's inexpensive and looks super cute hanging on the tree! A 12 count pack of chalk from Walmart is $.74! I just used ribbon to tie on it and make into an ornament! You could probably cut the chalk in half and get 24 ornaments out of the box, but I found 12 was sufficient enough for my tree. Here is the chalk and ruler ornaments.
Here is a photo of one of my salt dough pencil ornaments.
I put my pencil tree in a basket, covered the base with yellow fleece fabric, and threw in some faux apples to complete the look of my back to school tree! I think it would look super cute filled to the max with apples, but that would be quite expensive since each apple costs $1.00. These apples are from the Dollar Tree. I hope they also come back out with the tiny apple ornaments that they had last Christmas. Those would be a cute addition to the back to school themed tree!

Joann's had a box of mini apples that would have been cute as ornaments, but at $5.00 a box I thought I'll wait until the ones from the Dollar Tree comes out and save them for next year! I suppose that I could have used my 40% off coupon, but I left it at home! :(
And here is a look at the completed "Back to School"themed tree, lit up, and made on a budget! :)
School starts here on August 30th. Stay tuned for my "Back to School" themed dinner that I have planned for Ben! I have a lot of cute ideas!
I am linking up with some cool blog parties. Check out many awesome projects at House of Hepworths, Strut Your Stuff Thursdays at Somewhat Simple, Craft-O-Maniac Mondays, and Skip to My Lou.


Carrie said...

it turned out super cute! My sister is a teacher I am going to tell her to look at it!


Rambling Girl said...

OH Ruth Anne, I love cute! Those pencils are adorable! Those would make a cute gift for a teacher for back to school.

Darlene said...

Your back to school tree is ADORABLE!! I LOVE the salt dough pencils!!♥

Jen~ Lipstick and Laundry said...

Love it, I want to add mini chalkboards to my wreath, I just didn't have any... It's on the list though... soooo CUTE!

Maggi said...

What a great idea! It turned out really well.

Jenglamgirl said...

simply adorable! HOW "SMART" you are to think of this. You just can't "Measure" how cute it is. Forgive the cheese. ;) Jen