DIY Holiday Decoration: Paper Patchwork Christmas Tree Collage
For those who love holiday crafting, decorating projects and materials don't need to be fancy or expensive. This festive patchwork Christmas tree is made from magazine photos, glue, and any trimmings you have on hand.
I made this colorful collage to fill an empty spot on my mantle, but the same idea, technique, and materials can be used to make holiday cards or accessories for your home. Just turn on the Christmas music and get crafting!
- A large, sturdy piece of paper to use as a backing (size of your choice). I used a piece of watercolor paper, but pastel paper, printmaking paper, or a piece of cardstock are all good choices.
- A number of colorful pages from magazines or holiday catalogs. I chose photos with certain colors, but also added more color by stamping (see below). It is best to use magazines or catalogs that use thick paper. They are less likely to ripple when you add glue or paint.
- Glue stick
- Acrylic paint (optional) for stamping
- Household items (see below) for stamping (optional)
- Additional trimmings, such as buttons, ribbon, paper doilies, and tissue paper, to layer and decorate your tree
- Pencil, ruler, scissors, and hole punch
How to Make a Paper Christmas Tree Collage
I wanted to display my patchwork tree on my mantle, so I designed it to fit into a 14" by 18" frame. If you want your finished piece to be a particular size, you should consider those dimensions as you design your project.
Step 1. Decide on a Pattern
I wanted my patchwork tree to look a little like a quilt design, so I looked online for some samples of Christmas tree quilts. I chose this triangle pattern because it was made up of a number of different pieces that would incorporate a lot of color, but the basic triangle shape would be easy to cut out.
Step 2. Calculate Size
I then calculated how big I wanted my tree. I sketched out my tree and decided to make my triangles 2 inches tall and 2 inches at their base. If I made my tree 6 rows high with an additional base, my finished tree would be 14 inches tall by 12 inches wide at the bottom.
Step 3. Transfer Design to Backing Paper
Once I was happy with my sketch, I transferred my design onto my backing paper, using a pencil and ruler and my calculations for my finished tree.
Step 4. Choose Your Photos
Next, I chose the magazine and catalog photos for my tree. I specially picked images that had an interesting pattern or showed a lot of colorful texture for my collage. These images would be more interesting when cut up into a patchwork.
Step 5. Hand-Stamp Your Photos (Optional)
But I also wanted to add some more color and decoration to some of my magazine images. To do this, I stamped some of my photos using acrylic paint and some household items.
I mixed up my acrylic paint in a few colors that I wanted to use. Then I gathered a few little items that I knew I could use as stamps. I used the top cap of a Sharpie to make a circle and dot pattern on some of my pages (see above).
I also wrapped thick rubber bands around a small box to use as a stamp (see photo - the more rubber bands you use, the more interesting the print design).
I spread out my paint onto a piece of foil using a plastic knife and gently laid my stamp box in the paint. Then I pressed it firmly onto my photo. To get a clean print, I tried not to move my stamp while I was pressing it down. I changed the direction of each pressing to create an interesting pattern.
Let all printed pages dry completely before moving on to step 6.
Step 6. Measure and Cut Your Photos
I measured and cut out all my triangles using a paper cutter (though you could also do it with scissors). I laid my pieces on my backing paper in my design and moved them around until I found an arrangement of images that I really liked.
I let my design just sit for a while and kept on coming back to it to look at it again. A few times, I moved some of my triangles around for a better composition.
Step 7. Glue Your Photos Onto the Backing
Once I was satisfied with my design, I glued down all of my triangles using a glue stick.
Step 8. Add Decoration (Optional)
The other material I had on hand was this cut paper that I think is used in scrapbooking (I bought this at my local big-box craft store). I had originally thought of cutting this piece on the diagonal to use like a garland design across my tree. But instead, I decided to paint it different colors and cut it up to use as a decoration on my tree.
I realized that the pointed little circles of this paper would make an interesting topper for my tree. I then started cutting up other parts of this paper, painted different colors, to add pattern and decoration to my collage. I used my glue stick to adhere these to my tree design.
I was lucky to have found this decorative scrapbooking material, but you could make something similar by cutting apart some paper doilies or making small paper snowflakes with colored paper or tissue paper. You could also decorate your tree by adding buttons or pieces of ribbon as garland.
Step 9. Decorate the Background (Optional)
I finished my design by surrounding the tree with little dots of paper. I used a hole punch to cut these out of the magazine scraps I had left over. I also made some dots from gold wrapping paper. These dots helped fill in the area around my tree. You could also add sequins or glitter.
Step 10. Frame Your Creation!
The last step is to frame your collage. I hope it will bring you as much joy as mine has brought me.
Although I made a framed Christmas Tree collage for my mantle, you could use these same techniques to make other holiday-inspired items, like Christmas cards or a cover for a family photo album!
© 2014 Donna Herron