Don’t toss out that piece of tree trunk sliced from the bottom of your Christmas tree before it goes on display. Turn it into a souvenir of your holiday memories.
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After purchasing a live Christmas tree, you’ll need to remove about 1/2-inch from the end of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand with water. This can be done in the store, but you can make a cleaner cut at home using a handsaw or jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade.
Even a thin section of the trunk will contain a great deal of water—too much for sanding or painting. If there’s no hurry, allow the slice to dry naturally for several weeks. You can speed the drying process by placing the slice in a desiccant, such as a small sealed container of rice, for a couple of days. Drying it in an oven under low heat also works, but may cause severe cracks in the wood.
Water evaporates from wood unevenly, which can cause the slice to split or crack. Allow for this in your design and handle the slice carefully.
If the cut marks on the slice are severe, start with 80-grit sandpaper. If the cut is fairly smooth, jump to 120-grit sandpaper. Cut the sandpaper sheet in half along its length and tape a half-sheet to a flat surface. Then apply firm, even pressure to rub the front face of the tree slice up and down the sandpaper. Avoid trying to work too quickly and handle the slice carefully to keep any cracks from splitting the slice in half.
Sap from the wood can gum up sandpaper. Change sheets as needed while you sand.
At what will be the top of the ornament, use a scratch awl to start a hole in the bark. Then insert a screw eye as far as it will go in the slice. Work carefully to avoid cracking the wood.
On the front face of the ornament, paint a black backdrop inset from the bark and let dry. (You can also use chalkboard paint and change the design each year.) To help the wood continue to dry evenly, paint a similar size design on the back side.
If you live in a cold climate, the dry winter months will continue to draw water from the wood and possibly cause it to crack with age.
Use artists’ brushes to draw the design of your choice on the front face. If you like, leave space to add the year, your name or other personal touch. Add decorative string or ribbon of your choice. Then add a loop of ribbon to the screw eye to hang the ornament.