Distressing things are just second nature to me. Give me something new, and I will figure how to to make it vintage-looking.
Several years ago I was cleaning the destruction left by Christmas and accidentally knocked some of my bottle brush trees into the bleach water.
I screamed in horror as the "green-ness" of them was fading - quickly fading!
I fished them out of the sink, washed them in soap and water, and laid them out to dry.
To my surprise, I loved them!
They turned a very pretty pastel color. Pale greens, blues, yellows. I was liking this look.
Now I did not, repeat, I did not go immediately to my stash of genuine vintage bottle brush trees and give them a dip in bleach, but I did jump in the car to Hobby Lobby to see how many bottle brush trees they had on clearance. Snatched up several bags, whisked them home, and promptly bleached the color out of them.
I now use those in spring decorations. I also have some fall ones.
I honestly did not know they were such a big deal until last week when several bloggers started tutorials on them.
This is what I do. This is not an exact science. You cannot predict the outcome. Sometimes it is pretty, sometimes it is not. Be forewarned.
First buy the cheapest bag of bottle brush trees you can find. Please do not use vintage trees - they are getting harder to find for collectors.
I found a bag of 21 for about $7. This was the cheapest I have ever found them. I am convinced they were marked incorrectly. I bought 8 bags of them.
I put a tub in the sink and dump in some bleach - probably about two cups - I don't measure because sometimes you have to add more. Follow with enough warm water to cover the biggest tree.
Just throw them in the tub. I use a plastic fork to sink them. The snow will come off. Don't worry you can add more later. I rub the fork gently down the bristles. The dye appears dark brown in the water. Soak them until the color is where you want it to be.
Take them out and give them a good bath in warm soapy water and place somewhere to dry upright.
Now observe the two photos above. Two different batches of trees. Within each batch is a wide range of colors even though the trees stayed in the bleach about the same time. You do not have any control over this. You get what you get. In the first photo is a batch I left soaking while going to answer the phone. You will notice they are darker and more orange-y in color. The second photo shows a batch that spent about five minutes in the bleach bath. Again a wide range of colors.
After a long drying period, gently fluff any bristles that have smushed.
I pick out the ones I like and put them aside.
At this point you can use any number of methods to put color back on the not-so-pretty ones.
I use Glimmer Mist by Tattered Angels because it is easy to use and seems to dry faster.
Here is a group dyed to perfection with blue, red, pink, and peach.
You can use your imagination as far as decorations go. I leave mine plain, but you can add balls, garland, stars, and, of course, snow.
Here is the before picture of the bottle brush trees fresh out of their package.
I am not knocking how they look here - I will soon have them all over the place.
But those bleached beauties just call my name!
I have taken a load of them to the store for my display case with a pick-up truck from the Men's Metal Accessories Shop at Hobby Lobby. (Who knew that existed!?!) I loaded the back of the truck with trees.
I forgot to take a picture, but I have seen several tree trucks floating about Blogland.
Now I have 80 more trees to bleach and dye so excuse me for running off. Don't you just love the smell of bleach in the morning?