Ceramic Christmas trees typically add a unique and personal touch to holiday adornments in any home or office. These types of ornaments were first seen in the 1960s and had remained popular even until today.
Sometimes it might be helpful to know how to make a ceramic tree yourself especially if you are looking into starting off your own small ceramic ornament business or just simply want to know how the entire process works.
Below is a simple procedure that details how to make a ceramic Christmas tree.
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– Liquid clay
– Small drill or pointy thin object such as a screwdriver
– Sponge or relevant cleaning material
– Firing kiln
Let’s get started!
Making a ceramic tree starts with liquid clay commonly referred to as slip. First, make sure that the slip is mixed well and then pour it into a plaster molded in the form of a Christmas trunk.
The plaster molds come in two or three pieces and need to be pressed together at all times except when a poured piece gets released from the mold. The slip must then be allowed to sit for some time.
The time could vary and sometimes several hours are needed if the tree is large to make sure that it solidifies to the point that it can be taken out from the mold without collapsing.
Sometimes it might be required to let the slip stay in the final section of the plaster mold a little while longer. Lastly, you can remove the item from the mold then place it on a hard surface and allow it to dry.
The next procedure involves placing holes in several locations such as; where the lights are supposed to be, where the star will sit, and in the base of the item where the plug and light are going to pass through.
You can use a small drill or a thin sharp object to make the holes. You have to be careful as the clay should still be wet at this point and applying too much force could end up cracking a branch or caving the entire tree or base.
After making the holes it must be allowed to dry until it fully hardens. Even when it becomes set, it could still be quite fragile. Depending on the time of the year, it can take up to 2 – 3 days to completely dry.
After completing the drying process, the tree has to be cleaned to remove any excess materials from the drilled holes. Take out the mold seams, and remove any other additional marks that were made in the clay. For cleaning, you can use a sponge and water. Be careful not to take out any intricate details of the tree itself.
Fire to bisque
Once the tree has been properly cleaned it is now ready for its first kiln firing procedure. Burn it for about 4 hours at approximately 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in three stages. After the furnace has been shut off, the tree(s) must be allowed to cool off before being taken out.
The period of cooling should be approximately 8 – 10 hours before opening the kiln and another 30 – 60 minutes with the lid of the kiln open before removing the tree(s). These fired pieces are commonly referred to as ceramic bisque.
After baking, you can now glaze the tree with 2 – 4 paint coats which all depends on the color and style of your preference. Every paint coat must be allowed to dry completely before the next one is applied.
After glazing or painting the ceramic tree check for any errors and repair them. If you want the Christmas decoration to have snow, an extra snow glaze should be applied during this time.
The glazed ceramic tree should be carefully arranged in the kiln and fired up again to approximately 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Again allow it to cool for about 8 – 10 and 1 – 2 hours respectively.
The item should now be ready for the lamps of your choosing. At this stage, the base should also be wired using the light fixtures. After this is done, the ornament is now ready to be tested to ensure that it looks as appealing as you expected.
After going through this process of putting this article together, I have a new found respect for businesses that sell ceramic Xmas trees. Building these ornaments aren’t a walk in the park, and it takes a lot of time.
Now I understand why some businesses charge between $60 – $100 and sometimes even more for one of these trees.
The alternative – buying a new ceramic Christmas tree
If this process seems a bit too much, you could try the easy alternative and simply buy a new one. These days, getting a new ceramic tree is fairly easy as they are available on many online stores such as Amazon and eBay. I’ve created a guide with all my favorite trees where you can also take a look at some of the do it yourself ceramic Xmas tree kits. See my ceramic Christmas tree guide here.
Here are also some popular trees to look at:
Learning through watching