Monday, July 15, 2013

A Visit From Bleached Bottle Brush Trees

 I am revisiting a post from last year on bleaching bottle brush trees.  It is a fun and decorative project.  The trees are so delightful they can be used year-long.  Enjoy!

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.  Actually I leave some out all year round - they seem to fit into any season's decor.

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.  

WARNING:  Make sure you have plenty of ventilation.  chlorine fumes are harmful.   I always dilute my bleach before using.

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.   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 use them just like this in several places around the house.

But those bleached beauties just call my name!

Will I bleach more this year?

Yes, I have already started looking for the bags of trees to be put out for display.

See y'all!

Make sure you go and visit here for Christmas inspiration!

I am over at Angie's Knick of Time looking at all the Christmas goodies. Read HERE! 

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  1. I love Christmas tree crafts. But I've never tried bleaching them. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I'm going to give it a try.

  2. So cute! Thanks for sharing them at the party!
    Angie @ Knick of Time

  3. I love them! I might be bleaching some of those little trees this year, cute!

  4. These are fabulous! I would love to make some for Christmas and you have inspired me :)

    Hugs to you!

  5. Those are really gorgeous! Have never seen anything like these in the UK, so it's not an option for me. But really appreciated being able to read your post.


  6. I had pinned another post from a gal who did this last year....really hoping to give it a try this year as I love the look! I imagine a whole mantel full of different shades of blue and pink and cream bottle brush trees :) Thanks for the tips. I'll pin this too!

  7. These are so cool Donna! I especially love the oolored ones! I'll have to remember this. I bought several on clearance at Wal Mart after Christmas last year to use for a project this Christmas. I think I will bleach and color some of them!

    Blessings, Vicky
    Life On Willie Mae Lane

  8. I never thought of bleaching brush trees! Thanks for sharing with us!

  9. Love this idea and the story behind how you discovered it. Thanks for sharing at Christmas in July.

  10. You have the best looking trees of all. Now that's something I don't think I've ever said.
    Thanks for linking up.

  11. You are too clever. I want one of these tied to a vintage toy truck I just bought. You have me thinking Christmas :}

  12. I never tire of your little trees. I wish I had as much oomph for all the little projects as you do. You are queen of the them. And queen of the bottle brush forest!


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