Feather Christmas Trees

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The Love of Feather Trees

Feather tree with Dresden style ornaments. © Ann Sizemore

Ann Sizemore of Home Traditions loves feather trees, has helped make her share of feather trees, often helping in the Dennis Bauer workshops at Golden Glow. Her company (along with Dennis Bauer) have supplied several different styles of feather trees for Martha Stewart and her magazine, as well as other popular publications.

The results were spectacular, even making the front cover of the magazine.

Ann is sharing tips on how you can make your own feather tree (disclaimer -- it's not for the non-crafty person!). Supplies, kits and completed feather trees and bases can be purchased on her website, HomeTraditions.com. But for the truly adventurous, try making your own this holiday season.

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Feather Tree Colors Choices

A branch from an antique feather tree, with the two tones of tree and berry tips. Barb Crews

Historically, green is the most prevalent color for feather trees. However, many other colors have been used including white, ivory, pink and the most collectible it seems, is blue. Antique blue feather trees bring a premium. But any color will work – Martha Stewart has used gold, burgundy, and tan for her trees.

Feathers can be dyed using Rit Dye, so the color choices are infinite. A second, coordinating color can be used on the ends of the branches by wrapping first one color of feather and then a second for the remaining length of the branch. Some antique trees have branches with pale green tips, with the rest being a darker green.

The feather trees shown on Home Traditions can range in price from $44. for an 18" tree, up to $680. for a 72" tree. These trees are all handmade in Ohio by Dennis Bauer and are often the trees of choice for avid Christmas collectors and, of course, Martha Stewart.

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How to Make a Feather Tree

A small blue feather tree from the Dennis Bauer workhops. Barb Crews

Supplies needed to make a feather tree include:

  • a dowel for the trunk
  • wires for the branches
  • goose feathers (see below)
  • berries for the tips of the branches
  • floral tape
  • tissue to wrap the trunk
  • glue

The types of feathers used are goose "biot" feathers which are sliced down the spine, and each half is then wrapped around the wire branch.​

The construction of a branch begins with placing the berry at the tip with the 'tail' of the berry laying along the branch wire. Using floral tape, wrap wire branch and berry wire tugging lightly as you wrap to create a bond with the wax covered tape, and stopping about an inch from the base of the wire. Next, each feather half is wrapped around the branch with the little quills fanning out, using glue to begin the feather and wrapping the feather around its own tip to secure it. A piece of floral tape adheres the end of the feather and the new feather begins over that floral tape piece. Continue this process leaving an inch of wire exposed. Bend the last 1/4" of each wire 90 degrees (perpendicular) using pliers.

Assembly of the tree begins with the top shoot glued into the hole that is drilled into the end of the dowel. Apply glue to the dowel from the tip to the first row of holes and wrap with the tissue, wrapping up towards the top shoot and back down to the top row of holes. Insert the top row of branches into the dowel with the branches facing upwards. Tightly wrap thin wire around the base of these branches and secure with twists of the wire. Apply glue to the wires and dowel, down to the next row of branches. Repeat the process of wrapping tissue around the dowel working upward covering the wires of the row above, and then back to the next row of holes. Repeat with each row.

Allow your tree to sit for 24 hours to let the glue dry well, before opening the branches.

Ann suggests not closing the branches up, once they’ve been opened as this weakens the wires somewhat each time you do.

Store in a climate controlled space covering your tree with a pillow case or cotton sheet to keep dust off.