Wednesday, December 16, 2015

And Now... The New Steampunk Christmas Tree!

I decided to completely overhaul the steampunk tree this year, the better to fit our shiny new steampunk room. I also moved the tree over here:
 


I liked the teal chairs flanking it so much, I decided to go with a teal and copper color scheme. Fortunately I already had enough ornaments in those colors, so I didn't have to buy any new.

Next I added in two strands of multi-colored patio lights that look just like hot air balloons, plus my own crafted hot air balloon ornaments:


I've had these patio lights for nearly a decade, and this is the first time I've found a proper use for them. Aren't they pretty?


There are also a few steampunk ornaments, like clock hand snowflakes by my friend Sharyn, and these papercraft gears by my fav steampunk jewelry artist, Friston.


The tree's most striking feature - and the one I'm most proud of - is the airship tree topper with its twinkling "smoke trail" garland. Here's a quick Vine to show you the twinkle effect:



The rest of the tree lights are static and warm yellow, while the "smoke" is twinkly white. To do it, I first wrapped white twinkle lights in a spiral up the tree, then covered them with glittery white cotton batting. Shockingly easy to do, and I love how the wispy cotton looks just like a vapor trail!
(You could do this planes or rockets, too. Lots of options!)



Not to mention, it's nice having twinkle lights in this room again. I love the ones on our Harry Potter tree so much, it's nice to have just a LITTLE twinkle back here.


Our airship topper is a $3 model ship from the thrift store, mashed together with a dirigible balloon John sewed from unbleached cotton. To combine them I ripped off all the masts and sails, then used brown embroidery floss to fashion an extremely crude net.

The model ship was attached to its base with two plastic bell-shaped pegs. I popped these out, painted them gold, and glued them to the back of the ship to look like thrusters or exhaust ports. (Click the pic to see them closer.)


Hanging the airship was tricky; the balloon is hanging from clear line, but the tree branches have to help support the ship's weight underneath. Definitely a two person job.

John's balloon is the real star here. We made the pattern using a small Nerf football wrapped in masking tape, then adjusted it to make it fatter. I especially love the fins on the back; John stuffed them with cardboard to keep them rigid.

Next year I'll try to make a better net, and maybe add some wings to the side of the ship? I'd also love to add a bright gold fan behind the ship for sparkle.


Beside the airship we have some hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling:


The big silver one is new, and it's my faaaavorite. Sharyn helped me find a new way to make balloon baskets that is super cool -  I'll try to throw together a post on it soon.

Dark shot, but more realistic to how the tree actually looks at night:

Ok, that's the topper stuff, now let's talk about dat BASE.

This is the base's second incarnation, since our first attempt went horribly wrong. (The spray paint buckled the foam board we were using. Blurg.) After that John switched to Masonite, and I changed the design from an elegant red box with Victorian gold script to this copper-and-gauge style.

The box sides are held together with Velcro, so the whole thing is easy to assemble around the existing tree base, and - best of all - is collapsible for storage.


The gauges are paper print-outs behind thin sheets of plastic, held in place by surrounds John cut and routed from Masonite. The rivets are all various sized furniture plugs. The giant key is (surprise!) more Masonite, with a wooden dowel for the shaft. And yes, you can turn the key. :)


This base is another element I may jazz up more in the future; I could see adding a switch or two, some copper coils, and even a few blinking indicator lights. (Right??) For now, though, I think this is a lovely start - and it's nice not having a cloth skirt for the cats to burrow under/shed all over/puke on.

More of my new hot air balloons:


Once you start looking, you'll be surprised how many ornaments out there already look like balloons! I love these quilted ones - even though my thimble basket isn't that great. 

I also have a few of these stunning copper glass drops:

They were a rare splurge from Crate N' Barrel a few years ago. I could only afford 6, and they each weigh a ton, and I will love them forever or until the cats break them.

Steampunk nutcracker on the left, rocket-riding octopus and clock hand snowflake on the right.

This is not steampunk, but it's copper and teal and oh-so-sparkly I couldn't resist:

Spaaaaarkly
(Also plastic, but with this much glitter, who cares? :D)

I'll leave you guys with one final dreamy HDR shot:



Hope you enjoyed my steamy labor of love! Stay tuned for even more Christmas goodies; I'm finally coming out of my sinusy sickness funk, so it's full steam ahead on the catching-up-on-posts train! CHOO CHOO.

48 comments:

  1. So beautiful! You guys are so talented! Merry Christmas to you both :-) x

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  2. I love the idea of the winding key on the side of the base box - looks like you had to do a whole-load of winding before the tree burst out, closely followed by the dirigible - spiraling around leaving the smoke trail whilst all its tiny crew members place the decorations on the tree! Steam-punk future's 'wind up christmas tree in a box'; tells a story - brilliant :D

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    1. What a perfect description for an amazing tree! It is incredible. The twinkling smoke garland is stunning!

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  3. I am not really into Steampunk so much (my style is more mid century modern) but I abso-flippin-lutely LOVE this room you have created. And now, oh my word, this tree. *o* In fact I got so giddy seeing that you had posted another update on it I nearly spilled my coffee this morning. I also want to thank you and John for bringing me so many smiles over the years. Your blogs are the highlight of my internet day. I wish you both a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! <3

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  4. What a wonderful way to start my day by seeing your tree! Love the base (may need to "borrow" the idea) and all the glittery ornaments. Teal is my favorite color too so it is especially fun. Enjoy staring at your shiny, glittering tree. I hope you, John, Lily, Tonks have a wonderful, healthy and peaceful holiday!

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  5. Glad to hear you are on the mend! That was an especially awful one.
    You outdid yourselves this year! I just love that smoke trail going up the tree. Love all your ornaments -- they are all in a theme and match and compliment one another. Love the color scheme and all the details on the ship topper as well as on the balloons. And the box is terrific! What a perfect solution for not just your room, but also for the two of you. Thanks for sharing all that -- so enjoyable to see all the pictures.
    Maureen S

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  6. You two have COMPLETELY outdone yourselves this year. Why the heck was THIS tree not included in the Christmas Tree Show??? You would have blown everyone else right out of the water. Absolutely STUNNING, Jen & John!!!!

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  7. p.s. thanks for giving me a push to doing something other than a tree skirt. i love the cauldron and this incredible box. xo

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  8. This room... at Christmas... I may die before you're finished with reveals and tutorials.

    You both know how to create such magic, and such detail and texture, that you could have quite a career in set decor for a studio or a certain amusement park system that likes to create intricate atmospheric designs.

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  9. That is SO PRETTY!

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  10. I wrote up a whole comment, but I decided to condense it to its essence in the form of a holiday haiku, just for you:

    Theme tree for the win!
    If only I could do that
    Studio living

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  11. Fantastic, as usual! I totally want to curl up in one of your teal chairs and just bask in the glow :)

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  12. Beautiful work! I love the airship with smoke trail - fabulous idea :D

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  13. That base! My inlaws have a rotating tree (which is barely visible under all the ornaments) and your base would set it off perfectly!

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  14. That last shot is amazing!! I love your idea with the box base, I've never been a fan of the tree skirt thing. Definitely something to be inspired by!!

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  16. I'm not into Christmas much cos too many years working retail killed it - but if I had the desire to get a tree I'd definitely want to do something like this :D
    I'm really tempted thanks to your twinkling smoke lights - such a sweet effect

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  17. WOW!! Just wow, that tree is so gorgeous! And the base is the first thing I noticed. So awesome! You guys have really outdone yourselves this year! I made one little steamy top hat ornament for my tree this year. Nothing like your amazing selves! Well done.

    And btw, so glad you're finally on the mend! That sounded just awful.

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  18. Wow! I just, yes. That is spectacular. I adore your tree!!!

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  19. I've been a reader since this blog started, and it's so cool to see all the stuff you've posted about over the years come together.

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  20. I know I sound like a creep, but I just want to come live in this room! I love everything you've done with it!

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  21. Wow!!! You guys are amazing! Seriously, this whole room looks incredible

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  22. You guys are seriously talented and I LOVE the vapor trail - so clever!

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  23. SO beautiful! Love all of it.

    The glittery, twinkling steam trail from the ship was a genius idea! Can't believe you found a model ship at a thrift store. What a find! It's the perfect size and everything! John did a great job sewing the balloon. Looks like that ship could really sail around the room.

    Those patio lights are gorgeous! Glad you finally found such a great use for them!

    Awesome base box and giant key! So happy that you thought of that after the foam board base didn't work out. And it's collapsible for storage...Excellent!

    Wonderful to hear that you're finally feeling better! Sorry you had to deal with that for so long, but at least now, chances are good that your holidays will be sickness-free! Yay!

    KW

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  24. So glad you're starting to feel better! I hope you continue to improve in a rapid fashion!
    Your tree is gorgeous!! Wow!!! Just breathtaking!!!!
    You ROCK!!!

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  25. That last shot in particular made me thing of Christmas cards.

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  26. Glad you are feeling better. You guys have made-over most of your house now and probably need something else to work on. I'll do you a favor and offer you my house. I'm generous like that. ; D Y'all fancy a trip to So Cal?

    -Just Andrea

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  27. And now I'm wondering why you guys only visit the tree show, instead of exhibiting there!
    Your trees are more spectacular than most of what we see there!

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  28. You guys are so amazing! Love seeing what you're up to!

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  29. Stunning, as always! Next year, add some uplights to the ship's deck to shine up on the balloon. It's so cool, but getting a teensy bit lost in the shadows. 2 or 3 warm white it amber LEDs ought to do it.

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  30. All your Christmas decorations are amazing! So jealous of these beautiful decorations!

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  31. I really want to have a go at making some hot air balloon decorations, they look so amazing! But I haven't got anything to use for the basket. I can't wait to see the tutorial you mention.

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  32. Very very pretty.

    Do the twinkle lights give you a headache? I would need to have a way to shut off just those lights after a little while

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  33. It is seriously SO AWESOME! So do you have another tree that's the Harry Potter tree? Or just the (still wicked) Steampunk tree?

    OOOOH STEAMPUNK HARRY POTTER TREE!

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  34. Okay, Jen. This is pretty badass.
    Well done. That base is so fun, and that airship?? So clever!
    You two rock!

    --Piper P from Washington State

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    1. Oh, and I forgot to tell you. I attempted to make a hot air balloon from an ornament. I was successful!! But before I had a chance to even enjoy it, it fell from my hands and shattered. :( So, now I have a basket attached to copper wires, attached to broken bits of blue glass. :(

      --Piper P from Washington State

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  35. Absolutely stunning.

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  36. Love it sooo much! Also wanted to mention that we received our pin pack today and I went ahead and gave them to my daughter as an early Christmas gift. I don't know which she was more excited over, the pin pack itself (Jane!) or the note from you Jen! So thank you for making my girl's day (week! month!). Isn't it nice to know that there is someone who wants to grow p and be you? Merry Christmas!

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  37. Everything is so beautiful I had a hard time deciding what was my favorite. I think it is the hot air balloon ornaments, and that silver one is amazing. And I'm not even a steampunk lover!

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  38. Please tell me it makes a ratchet noise when you turn the handle...?

    Di

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  39. Absolutely fantastic! The smoke trail is genius, and the lights are perfect. Please, put a spotlight on that airship, it really is the star!

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  40. After writing this comment three times and each time doing something stupid to get it erased...let me just say, this tree is beautiful, this room is gorgeous, and you've made a steampunk fan out of me. Thanks for sharing your steampunk decor with us, and I can't wait for your Christmas house tour.

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  41. AMAZING. So, so gorgeous. I love all the hot air balloons. I love it all!!

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  42. This is beautiful. I had a random inspiration when I saw that key, though - have you considered attaching a gear to the inner end, then attach a thin piece of metal so that turning the key causes the gear to flick it with a clicking, ratchety sound? It would add some interesting tactile resistance to turning the key, too. Would likely make the whole box less easily collapsible, but the sound effect might be worth it.

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