Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY Steampunk Cone Trees

I've seen a bunch of DIY cone trees on various crafting blogs, covered with everything from feathers to pine cones, so I decided to try some out myself! Of course, mine would have to have a steampunk twist:

These cone trees have limitless decorating possibilities, are easy to make, and make gorgeous centerpieces when grouped together. They're also cheap, since odds are you already have everything you need to make them. (The only thing I purchased for these were the rhinestone decals, so all three only cost me $8 to make.)

I hear craft stores actually sell plain cones, but they're simple enough to DIY from old cereal boxes:

Just twist 'til you like the shape, tape the edge down with strong packing tape, and then trim the bottom to make it level. (That part's the hardest - most of my trees sit a little wonky.)

I made four cones from two cereal boxes, and half accidentally ended up with a nicely graduated set of three:

I initially planned to paint them, but quickly realized that wrapping paper is smoother, easier, and shinier. I wrapped the largest cone in a swirly metallic paper with lots of golds and silvers in it, and then proceeded to layer on those thin metal gears I love so much:

My friend (& now fellow CW writer!) Sharyn makes these gears for me using Spellbinders Gear Dies. They're thin, lightweight metal, and bend easily. It took FOREVER to glue them on the cone, though; the superglue kept letting go, and the E-6000 takes a long time to dry. Eventually John suggested I use blue tape to hold the gears in place while the glue dried, which was a real sanity-saver.

My little tree toppers are 3D stickers from the drool-worthy Jolee's Boutique steampunk line:

I've been saving this one pack for half a year now, waiting for the right project to showcase them properly. I seriously, SERIOUSLY love these stickers. I hope they never stop making them!

I curled thin brass wire around a chopstick to make curly sprigs to set behind the owl:

And for a final touch, I hung a vintage key on the front of the cone using two straight pins:

 All the metal and foil paper really gleams in low light, and doesn't it look perfect with the owl?

Next up, I dug through my fabric scraps and found a square of raw silk that was *just* large enough to cover my smallest cone:
(Note Jabba the Cat [aka Tonks] back there. My craft table = the cats' daytime bed.)

I used spray adhesive to attach the fabric, which I highly recommend. No mess, no bumps or dark spots on the fabric, *and* it's easy to peel the fabric off and re-position it if you get a wrinkle. Great stuff.

Last Christmas my dad, who repairs antique clocks and watches for fun, gave me a small box of rusty old pocket watch guts. (I KNOW. I was jumping up and down with glee!) I've yet to do anything fun with them, though, so I decided to showcase one on the cone:

Most of the rust dust wiped off with a damp cloth, so the face is shiny white again now.

I added several more curled wire sprigs all around the watch face, taping them down in the back, and then rigged a wire hanger with even more packing tape. (It isn't pretty back there, trust me.) Another sewing pin acted as a nail to hang the whole shebang up:

And for my final tree, I first covered it in several layers of shiny chrome wrapping paper. (The foil paper is so thin that I had to roll it several times to get a non-crinkly layer.)

After staring at it for a while, I headed off to Micheal's for some inspiration. There I found some lovely - albeit expensive - rhinestone decals:

They're $4 a pack, so that's a dollar a sticker. Like I said: pricey. They're reeeally hard to apply, too, because the swirls flop all over the place once you peel them up, and then they stretch and move while you're sticking them down, and occasionally a stone will pop off if you flex it too much. Urg.

Still, the topaz gems on the shiny silver gives the tree a really glamorous look, like old jewelry:

To make the swirl design I started with two full stickers in the middle, and then worked out from the center, cutting the stickers to make different shapes as needed. I think I used six stickers for this design, so at least I have two left over for later use. (Also note that you could easily do this with nail gems or other stick-on stones; just free hand your swirls, or stick the gems on randomly.)

Oh, and I also replaced the owls' blue gem eyes with smaller gold ones, to match.

And there you have it! The cones are on our front buffet, which isn't quite finished yet, but here's a crummy photo to give you the general idea:

 I'm off to finish the greenery swags next to the picture now, so I should have better pics soon.

And now, your moment of Pin:


Hey, since I keep finding so many holiday craft ideas on Pinterest, it only seems fair to send mine out into the mix, too, right? ;)

Hope you guys enjoyed, and that the holiday madness hasn't taken too many of you just yet. (I find eggnog helps. Lots...and lots...of eggnog. *hic*)


  1. Love these [and who wouldn't?] Also love the framed angel picture in the middle--care to share the artist, picture title?

  2. @ Granny K - Sure! It's by James Christensen, titled "Isabella."

  3. Crummy photo my ass! Your crummy photo is in a league I can never reach. But at least you aren't smug or condescending about how wonderful your stuff and ideas are (thanks for that btw).

    Keep on being so amazingly awesome!

  4. What sort of spray adhesive would you recommend? I've been looking for something like that.

    These look great, I may have to try making one myself.

  5. These are gorgeous, thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Love your ideas! My Grandson (who, at three, is obsessed with hot air balloons) loved the ones I made from your tutorial for him. You just plain rock!
    I think copper or gold tape would be cool on these trees, the kind used to wrap glass edges.

  7. Would it have worked to put the rhinestones down sticky-side up, then to roll the cone across it?

  8. These look great! Alex thinks so, too. This is the conversation we had after he walked behind me and saw this over my shoulder:

    Alex: What are those? They're pretty.
    Me: Steampunk Cone Trees.
    Alex: Ooh, neat! And I could totally wear one as a steampunk party hat!
    Me: I'm never letting you into her house.

  9. I'm surprised you wiped the rust dust off the clock face. I thought it had more character/charm with the rust on.

  10. I'm sure my daughter will be working on these as soon as she sees them! Good thing that "Santa" got her an embossing/die cutting machine this year. ;)

  11. LOVE THEM! Coincidentally, I used those exact rhinestones and others to decorate my motorcycle helmet. I got a new bike recently, (2012 Kawasaki Concours)that is a chocolatey-reddish color. My helmet, for which I have no other excuse to replace, is silver. So I used those rhinestones and some others that complement the actual color of the bike and blinged up my helmet. I'm getting a new brown leather jacket and boots in the future...trying for a look that is more Steampunkish than Biker.

  12. Those are gorgeous! And good call on the upcycled cereal boxes.

    A word about adhesives. I was recently turned onto the Helmar line of glues and OMG! (yes really) does this line kick major crafty butt. There's one (the 450 Quick Dry) that I've heard referred to as hot glue in a tube and it's really pretty close. Might be worth a try next time you've got fiddly bits that need to glue in bendy ways. (not affiliated with the company at all, just a happy customer who wants to share intel)

  13. So, now I really want to make these and make some sort of clear or open base for them that I can sit atop one of those flameless tea candles. Floating glowing Steampunk trees!

    Thanks Jen!

  14. Adorbs! And what crummy photo? I kept like scrolling up and down looking for a 'crummy' photo but all I could find were gorgeous, ridiculously perfect photos of Christmas settings that belong in a Martha Stewart Living Magazine! lol :D

  15. Wait til you get more skeleton keys...heh!

    The cones are really gorgeous!

  16. The one with the watch face reminds me of the clock in the Nutcracker... When Clara is falling asleep and the clock sprouts owl wings and "time flies" as her adventure begins. These all turned out so pretty!

  17. After seeing you spent $8 at Michael's I feel bad saying that, at least here in Canada, our Dolleramas (dollar stores) have tons of those sticker stones, either pre-swirled or individual, in assorted colors. :)

  18. Lovely! I can't decide which is my favorite....
    Nikki T

  19. These are amazeballs. Seriously my favorite thing you've done (aside form Lady V'dore [sp?]).

  20. I'm pretty sure you single-handedly keep steampunk lines in merch, to great effect!

  21. Don't know if you've ever seen this site,but there is a "steampunk" section that is hilarious.


  22. @Granny K, I had the exact same question! Soooo beautiful!

  23. I LOVE the chrome tree! If I lived closer, I'd steal the owl right off of it. : )

  24. Thanks for the Pin! I love your projects.

  25. Just found this post and I love these! My MOPS group made fabric covered cone trees in 2011, lots of fun with spray adhesive and decorations. Just a tip, it's easier to cut them in a round bottomed triangle with a strip of poster board pinned to the top corner, then sweeping it across the bottom with a pen in the other end to mark your edge. Then, just cut with scissors or, what we used, a rotary cutter from our sewing tools =) We then used the poster board round bottomed triangles as templates for cutting our fabric, with the fabric a few inches longer to fold over inside.

    They make great princess hats too - you can be a steampunk princess! I made some satin covered ones for my daughter's birthday party and got stick on gems for the girls to decorate them with - a little veil trailing from the top too, of course ;)

    (Our directions were from this blog: http://www.thecreativityexchange.com/2010/12/fabric-covered-poster-board-christmas-tree-cones.html She has some pictures to better explain what I typed above =)


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