How to Make a Scary Tree with Creative Paperclay - Page Two of Two


-------These instructions are for making a hollow tree that will allow
the insertion of a light - I will be using a green LED which does not produce
heat.  If you will be using any other type of lighting, please make sure that
you take proper safety precautions to prevent the bulbs/tree from
overheating.  Light tree at your own risk.

    When performing any sanding or machining procedures on dry paperclay!
This process will create EXTREMELY FINE DUST PARTICLES  which
you probably don't want to be breathing.  Wear EYE PROTECTION
and make sure you have read all safety warnings on your power tools
before operating them!  (Project can be completed without the use
of any power tools)

The wonderful possibility of awful things that can happen while your tree is drying....

    Sometimes paperclay takes on a life of it's own, which often
adds to your sculpture in a way you hadn't though of!
    When your tree is dry you may find that it has developed cracks.
    Maybe these are in the most wonderful places and only enhance
the look of your tree.  However, if you decide you don't want to keep them
simply brush some water and white glue into the crack, press in some fresh
paperclay, smooth and re-shape as necessary and allow to dry.

    It could happen that your carefully sculpted scary tree fingers or branches
warp in a way you don't care for.  If this happens, you can "break" the fingers
with a small amount of pressure (don't break them off, just break along
where you want them to bend) then apply water, glue and fresh clay as above
to reshape them.

    It's also possible that the bottom of your tree warped and now the tree
won't stay flat.  Here are some ways you can fix this -  If the roots warped
and bent upwards you can add extra clay underneath them, or you can break them
and add more clay as described above for the fingers.  If the base itself warped,
you can tape a piece of sandpaper onto a flat surface and move the tree back
and forth along it until the base is flat.

and what to do with the tree when it is dry.

First we're going to remove the newspaper inside -
Poke your craft knife through
the bottom, then enlarge the hole
a little bit at a time, until it is big
enough for you to start pulling
the newspaper out.

Caution!  If you find out that the
newspaper and tree are still wet
inside, STOP and wait until it is

Remove as much paper as you
can pull from the bottom, then
re-cut the hole made in the back

Use the craft knife in an in-and-out
sawing motion to cut through the
paperclay into the newspaper,
then carefully remove the piece of

Pull the paper out a little bit at a time
until you've hollowed out the tree.
(you may have to cut into the paper
with your knife to get the pieces out).

Once you have all the paper pulled out
look through the opening to the front
and use your knife to clean up any
of the facial areas that may have newspaper
or clay bits clinging to them.

Paint the inside of the tree with a mixture of black &
brown acrylic paints.  This is to seal the clay, and because
it is easier to reach the inside of the face cutouts from behind.
Don't forget to paint the inside part
of the paperclay piece you took out.

Since I am going to be using a light in the tree
I also want to cover the inside with shiny green foil.
(this looks good without the light inside too, since
any light that comes in through the front openings
will be eerily reflected on the foil)

I painted the clay before gluing the foil in, since it isn't likely
that I will get the foil into all of the cracks and crevices of the inside,
I just need a bit on this back piece to reflect the light.

Spread some glue around the cutout opening on the back, and on the edges of
the paperclay piece your removed from the opening.  Make a roll of fresh paperclay about
1/8" thick and smush this around the edge of the opening.  Gently put the paperclay
piece back into the hole and smooth around the edges slightly.  Just get it stuck in there
enough to let it dry so it is held in place.  When it dries, you can go back over it and
fill in any gaps and smooth the surface.

When the repair is dry, you can begin texturing the tree -

You will need either a pointed
needle file, or a diamond bit
in your power tool.

Reminder -

With the file or rotary tool,
begin carving vertical lines along the
growth pattern of the tree.

Make these lines fairly close
together, from the roots all
the way up the branches.

Follow the curves of the face
and enhance the features.

This and the next few photos show
the lines being carved into the tree.

Cover the entire tree
with vertical lines.

Now we're going to take a break and work on the installation
of the light so this assembly can dry while we're working on
the tree.  If you're not putting a light in yours, just scroll
through to the next texturing step.

Because I am using an LED, which won't produce heat, I am
going to use a plastic drinking straw to hold the light and wiring.
If you are using an incandescent light, you can follow the same
procedure but use a brass tube in place of the straw.

First put the light into
the straw, insert into tree and
mark on the straw how much
you need to cut off in order
to place the light behind the face
where you want it.  I want mine
to be shining down from the inside,
so I'm going to bend the end of
the straw inside the tree.

Cut the straw to length, then cut a notch in the end so the wire will
be able to come out of it and not get pinched by the bottom of the straw.

Stick the straw in a lump of
paperclay, sculpt the clay around
the straw enough so that the straw stands
upright.  Put your tree over this
assembly and lightly push down onto it
so that you leave a mark in the clay.
Trim clay so that the finished assembly
will fit into the hole in the bottom
of the tree.
Set aside to dry.

Now back to the tree texturing -


Using a stiff wire brush, go over
the entire tree along the vertical
growth pattern you created with
the lines earlier.  Press hard (except
on the branches, since you don't
want to break them).  You will start
to see the vertical lines you created
soften and blend somewhat, and you
will be creating all sorts of lovely
fine lines along the tree.

Gosh, this looks like a gruesome picture!
Obviously, it is after I have painted the
inside of the tree, but it looks so much
scarier with no light coming through the back.

Anyhow, in this and the next photo
I'm trying to show the
brushed lines around the face, but they're
not showing up very well since the
rest of the tree is still white.

Go over the entire tree with the wire brush,
in vertical strokes only.

Once you have the texturing complete you are ready
to start painting - Yay!
Put a puddle of black, burnt umber, burnt sienna,
and a little blob of green on your palette.
Dip your large soft brush into water and then mix
some of the black with any other color on the palette
and start painting the tree.  What you are aiming
for is mostly black, with slight color variations.
You might have to get the paint pretty wet to make
it flow into all the cracks and crevices of the tree.

When you think you have the tree painted, set it aside
for a bit and come back to it - you'll find all sorts of spots you need to fill in, since tiny bubbles in the
paint will have popped inside the crevices.  You really want this whole thing to be dark though, so
turn the tree every which way, go back to it a few times, etc. until you've got it covered.
Let this layer of paint dry thoroughly.

And now for the MAGIC part of the painting!!!
To the brown/black mixture on your palette, add some white and maybe a touch of golden brown.
You're aiming for a dull warm gray color.
Use your fan brush this time - dip it into this new paint mixture then wipe off most of the paint
on a paper towel.  We're going to dry brush across the vertical lines, which will create the
wonderful illusion of bark (no, really!)
Check this out!

Continue making the horizontal dry-brush
strokes all around the tree.

When finished, add a light wash of burnt

Repeat this process as desired, slightly varying
the gray color each time.  (I usually do about
3 layers, but I have a painting obsession - you
might decide to leave it after the first dry-brush coat).

That's it, you're done with your tree!  If you are putting in the light, paint the paperclay base and
insert the light into the tree.  If you can see the straw or tube through the face cutouts,
you might want to either paint that or add some of the shiny foil onto the tube.


 I took the next ones with the lights dimmed ....
not as well focused since I couldn't see what
I was doing, but s-p-o-o-k-y!

I hope you will have a lot of fun making your scary trees!  If you have questions
about this project please don't hesitate to email:

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