Tutorial: Hot Glue Alien/Mutant Trees

This tutorial is based off an idea from Warboss_Waaazag over at the NerdNYC forum for his "Seuss-ian Trees". If you want some ideas on how crazy these trees can look, I strongly advise you check out his work. This tutorial only focuses on making easy, basic trees using readily available materials.

Materials:- Hot Glue Sticks- Shaker Pegs (available in the wood shapes section of any good craft store), assorted sizes- Fender washers (or regular washers), various sizes- Plastic bases, various sizes- Fake flowers/floral accents- Spray primer- Craft paint- Construction Adhesive (optional)

Tools:- Hot Glue Gun- Brushes

Protip: When working with hot glue, it's essential to join pieces together quickly, while the glue is still hot. This ensures that the glue solidifies around both pieces and forms a good, strong joint.

1. Start by assembling the tree trunks. Using either hot glue (quick) or construction adhesive (slow drying but strong!), glue the plastic base to the fender washer. Use whatever size bases/washers you'd like - bigger bases = larger diameter trunks!

Then glue the a shaker peg to the bases, as shown below:

2. Once the glue is dry on your trunks, it's time to start building up the tree bark. The bark is simply rings of hot glue pancaked one on top of the other. Be sure you have something underneath your trees when starting - don't ruin the finish on your table; hot glue is HARD to get off.

Starting at the base of the trunk, run a thick ring of hot glue around it and quickly set it down. This is your first bark ring so it will probably take either a lot of glue or a couple passes to build up a suitably large bark ring. When this is dry, add the second layer, just like the first.

Don't freak out if it seems like you're using a lot of glue sticks for these first rings.

3. Once each layer is dry, keep adding more layer on top of the others. Don't worry about it being perfect - messy = more natural. As you proceed up the trunk, you'll get closer and closer to the peg itself. The finished tree bark should look like it "flares" up into the foliage.

4. Stop when you've reached the "crown" of the trunk, as pictured below:

5. When all the layers are completely dry and no longer warm to the touch, prime the trunks. Allow to cure for several hours or overnight.

6. When the primer's cured, you can begin painting. I simply dry-brushed my trunks starting from the "crown" and moving downwards. I started with a dark green basecoat and highlighted almost up to a pure neon green, concentrating the highlights on the base to give the optical illusion that the foliage was shading the upper trunk.

7. Take one bunch of your fake flowers and gently pull each flower off the stem. The flower is usually just several layers of fabric/plastic stuck together with a plastic clamp.

 Note: I used fabric flowers for my trees, since I think they look a little more natural and they were significantly cheaper than plastic foliage.

8. Find the center of the plastic clamp in the flower, as pictured below:

You want the "flip" the flowers so that, what would normally be the top is the bottom of your tree foliage. This provides a better effect as the foliage droops downwards.

9. Quickly place a good amount of hot glue on the crown of your tree trunk and place the center of the flower on top. Push the two pieces gently together and let dry. Once dry, you may have to paint the plastic clamp.