As I write this article, I can't believe its been
more than twenty years
ago, but back in 1989 we created our very first full size Halloween Tree from an
old tree in the backyard. Our friends, family and guests just loved
the idea that we actually had a fully decorated Halloween Tree sitting
right in our living room, just like you would at Christmas time. From that year on it became an October tradition to setup
and decorate a Halloween Tree. We even started wrapping Halloween
presents and placing them under the tree which we opened on Halloween night.
It all started one October day when I was
working on a Halloween prop in the backyard and noticed that there was a
dead tree in one corner of our property. It looked
foreboding and kind of
spooky, and I suddenly thought, Halloween Tree! I cut off one of the large
limbs with my
trusty chainsaw, trimmed off the limbs that I
didn't want and since we were going to have the tree against
a wall in the house, I cut the back limbs off a little shorter, so it
could sit closer to the wall.
First we gently removed any loose dust, debris and unsalvageable
bark from the tree. The bark on dead tree limbs tends to come off very
easily, so we had to be careful to avoid knocking off any we don't have to.
Here's where we really departed from the tree decorating
norm. We decided that we were not going to add mini-lights to our
Halloween tree. Instead, we would use fluorescent paint and two black
lights, one on either side, to illuminate it. This created a very unique
Dead tree limbs tend to be quite brittle, so
to strengthen them, we gave the tree two heavy coats of polyurethane
spray. This also helped to adhere any loose bark to the tree. We let the first coat dry for a day, then gave it the
second coat and let this dry for another couple of days. The next step
was to carefully paint the entire
tree with orange glow-in-the-dark, water-base paint and let it dry
completely. This type of paint can usually be bought at
craft stores or ordered online.
Now we painted the entire tree with a thick coat
of crackle paint with a paint brush. This was left to setup for an hour before adding a
final coat of semi-gloss, water-base black paint. As the black paint
dries over the crackle paint, it creates a wonderful effect of the
orange under-coat showing through the "crackle" like orange veins.
Lastly, we painted the whole thing with two
coats of clear
fluorescent spray paint. For this we used "Glow in the Dark Spray" made
by Fun World. This glow in the dark aerosol spray goes on transparent.
It is water soluble, so its easy clean up after using. Now the basic
Halloween tree was finished. For a base we used a
regular metal Xmas tree stand spray painted black.
We went a different direction with the ornaments
as well. We wanted to use items that would look like they belonged on
the tree if it were still growing outside, so we used a feathered crow perched on one branch, two spiders
hot glued to the trunk and a branch, and most importantly a light
coating of spider web using a
Cob Web Spinner. We surrounded the base with
river stones, a bed of brown
Spanish moss for an outdoor look and then placed a tilted tombstone on
one side, a skull and a couple of Jack O' Lanterns on the other side. Bats were hung with
clear thread from the ceiling above the tree.
The last thing to do was add the black
lights. We positioned a four foot black light unit
on either side of the Halloween tree, about six
feet in front of it. The entire tree glowed eerily
and looked great!
Tips - Never leave the lights or any
lighted decorations plugged in when you
leave the house. Its a good idea to
attach a smoke detector to the wall or
ceiling above the tree. Make sure that
plugs plugged into outlets and/or
extension cords are plugged in safely.
Always have a fire extinguisher handy
during the holidays.