Inspired by the concrete ring cones I made a few years back, last week I made some mini concrete Christmas trees for Curbly. I kept those quite minimalist, but got the urge to play around with some new concrete techniques, so I’ve since made a bunch more in different styles.
This is actually the first time I’ve used Rapidset CementAll, and I liked it so much that I think it’ll be my new go-to for concrete projects. It’s actually cement, not concrete, so it’s a very smooth mix that sets really quickly, in like an hour. It’s also lighter in color than some of the other mixes I’ve used, so it worked really well for tinting with paint (more on that below). It also picked up details well.
You can check out the full tutorial and templates for making these plain trees over on Curbly, but here are some additional ways to embellish your concrete Christmas trees.
Concrete Christmas Trees
The first thing I tried was just adding a bit of metallic paint to the plain trees. I used this paint in gold. If you’re wondering how I got such perfect dots, I used stick-on hole reinforcers as stencils. Cute, simple, and easy.
Next I tried making imprints in the trees with lace and textured fabric. I used some burlap trim, lace trim and fabric, and paper doilies that I glued to the cone templates with tacky glue before I rolled them up.
Some of my attempts worked a lot better than others. Here’s what they looked like after I removed them from the molds.
I actually had to let the trees soak in water, then scrub with a scrub brush to get the lace paper doily out of the crevices.
Inspired by Made by Barb (she has tons of creative concrete projects and techniques), I experimented with ways to bring out the details of my trees. I ended up painting some of the trees with watered-down white or black paint, which I wiped off of the high areas with a rag. After that dried, I dry-brushed on this metallic silver or gold paint. To dry brush, you just wipe most of the paint off your brush, and brush on super-thin layers to bring out the details. As you can see, it made a big difference to the final look.
But what I learned is that while thinner lace doesn’t work too well, you don’t want the lace to be too thick, either. The thing that worked the best was a thicker paper lace doily. And I just wasn’t into the burlap effect.
As I mentioned above, I also experimented a bit with adding paint to the concrete mix. I substituted a bit of green sample wall paint for about a third of the water in one mix, and it worked surprisingly well.
But what I was really excited about was the result of mixing too much concrete for the number of molds I had formed. I smooshed the leftover green concrete and some plain concrete together in the container I was mixing in, added a cup to make a cavity in the middle, and ended up with a cool marbled container.
So pretty, right? I need to experiment with this effect more! In the meantime, now I have lots of mini concrete Christmas trees to decorate my house with.