Making a miniature Christmas Tree

Fancy a decorated Christmas tree for an Xmas themed diorama or dolls house? Here’s how I made this one.

I’ve written before about making your own snow and even tiny snow men but what I’ve yet to cover is making miniature Christmas trees for dioramas, doll houses or even model railways.

This technique will work for all medium scales, from doll house sizes downwards. The tree seen here is 1:18th scale, that used for many dolls houses but the technique works just as well for other size projects.

If you don’t fancy making your own, you can buy ready-made Christmas trees and other festive decorations from here.

What you’ll need

Making a model Christmas tree

First, cut the dowl rod to the length that matches the height you want for your tree. I emulate a tree of between 4 and 5.5 feet.

For the 1:16 dolls house scale I make here, the dowl is just between 3.5 and 4 inches. For the 1:12th scale of other doll houses, 4 to 5 inches works well.

Take this length of dowl and rub it down with the sandpaper from about half an inch from one end so it tapers out and comes to a bluntish point. This will be the trunk of the tree.

The branches

For the armature of the tree, the branches on which foliage will sit, are made from florist and electrical wire inserted into holes made around the trunk.

making a dollhouse christmas tree

The Christmas tree armature, florist wire glued into holes drilled around the trunk.

Drill three or so holes around at the roughly same height around the ‘trunk’ and repeat this every quarter of an inch up the trunk. These holes will be for the florist wire so you’ll need a very fine drill bit and drill. A pin vise and bit set such as this one is ideal.

The holes should be in different positions as you move up the trunk and should not penetrate all the way through the dowl and should be the diameter of the florist wire.

Take your thickest florist wire and cut them into 3-inch strips. Around these, wind the shorter electrical wire to create spurs off the main branches — you can just about see these in the photo above.

Dab the super glue into the holes on the dowl and insert the florist wire branches you’ve just made to roughly halfway up the trunk.

Now repeat the process with the thinner florist wire but make these slightly shorter — 2-inches  and repeat until you get to the top fifth of the tree.

Finally, cut some short strands of the electric wire and attach these to the trunk in the same manner. as seen in the photo below.

Let the super glue set (give it about half an hour to be sure).

The branches are added and cut to form a triangular profile.

To give the tree that classic Christmas tree shape, you might need to cut some of the branches — working from the bottom up — to achieve a triangular profile. For added realism, I also bent the branches upwards about halfway along each shoot.

To finish the armature off, spray the trunk and branches with the brown aerosol paint and leave it all to set.

Adding foliage

With the paint and glue dry, spray the ends of the branches with the hair spray.

Hold the tree upside down and sprinkle on the longer — 6mm — static grass. Try to avoid getting this on the inner areas of the tree.

Hang it upside down for a few minutes to let the static grass fix in place and then turn the tree the right way up and review how it looks.

The first foliage added, 6mm static grass.

Needles on pine trees tend to hang down, so with a pencil or piece of dowl, push any of the errant upward-facing grass fibres down so they point to the base of the tree.

Now apply another coating of hair spray and, with the tree again held upside down, sprinkle the shorter static grass primarily over the ends of the branches but also allow some to fall on the inner part of the tree.

Finally, spray again and sprinkle dark green scatter over the entire tree.

Making miniature tree decorations

This for me is the fun part.

Take the air-drying clay and pinch off tiny amounts and roll them into various size balls, a few millimetres in diameter at max.

Let these dry for about half an hour and paint them in colours of your choice to create the baubles.

Other shapes can also be made. I made some cubes and then painted a cross on them to simulate bows on wrapping paper.

Use the super glue to fix these randomly to the branches of your tree.

> Tip: For my tree, I placed these on the upper side of the branches. In retrospect, glueing them to the underside, so they appear to hang down, looks much better. If wanted, you could also add appropriately  sized Gold tinsel to the tree for an added Christmassy look.

And that’s your diorama / doll house Christmas tree ready for display.

 

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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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