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.

Affiliate notice: Some links on this page will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, B&Q, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.


A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.

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