Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Tree


This post says a lot about me.  I'll let you qualify that.




So here's my $24.50 tree.  I forgot to take a picture of it before I started hacking away delicately pruning the branches at the top.



I knew the fresh cuts were going to stick out like a sore thumb and I planned ahead.  I bought a bag of lichen at Mahoney's and I was going to hot glue the lichen over the fresh cuts to hide them.  But rather than burn my fingers on the hot glue, I looked through mt collection of Benjamin Moore paint sample pots and found the perfect color.  Just in case you ever wondered what color a Christmas tree trunk is, it's Benjamin Moore Willow CC-542.



The whole pruning process was very slow.  I'd prune a branch, stand back, assess the tree's new chi and respond with the next cut.  Very zen.  Yin and Yang.  Earth, Wind & Fire. 

I tried to remove any portion of a branch that grew up or down so that I ended up with flat layers of branches. I thought I was done at this point but after a little more eggnog contemplation, I went back in.



And this was the result.

Hey, who's chuckling?




I added about 600 lights which took forever. No branches to conceal the cords. 

Thank god for floral wire.



As I started to add the ornaments, I was seeing distinct horizontal layers
emerge like you would see in a Victorian feather tree.

I continued to add ornaments trying to get each layer perfectly horizontal, trimming
additional branches that deviated from that pattern.




And here is the result.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I wanted
an imperfect tree and then I needed to assert order and control by placing the ornaments
as perfectly as possible in their respective layers.


Does anyone find it difficult to take great pictures of a Christmas tree?



The layered effect is a little bit lost at the bottom.  If it weren't for the lights, I would just trim more out to define the layers a little bit.



Almost all of the ornaments are vintage like me or gifts from family and friends.  But this method of placement actually took a lot more ornaments so I had to supplement with some plastic ones from Target.  The shapes were similar to many of the vintage ornaments so they blend really well.



So there it is.  It's different and I love it.

And don't forget... I still have another tree!




I'm linking up to Thifty Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party.

137 comments:

  1. I like that tree!!! I was a little worried til I got to the end of the end of the post.Its beautiful!!!

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  2. This is lovely. I also always liked a spare tree where the ornaments have room to breathe. Thanks.

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  3. what does this say about you? hmmm.

    seriously killing it on wednesday afternoon.

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  4. What might this say about you???

    Perfectly imperfect
    A little bit OCD
    Elegant and fun......I could go on.

    It's like a tree a kid would draw, zig zagging in and out...

    I also have issues photographing the tree. If you want to see the tree, you need the lights on in the house and then everything gets sepia toned...

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  5. Raz,
    Yup, just a tad OCD don't you think?

    I agree about having all the lights on.
    S.

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  6. You are so delightful and funny. I love your Christmas tree! Merry Christmas to you!

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  7. Hey, what's in the packages under that gorgeous tree?
    Are they from the cats?

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  8. Exactly the way I like my tree to look. Can you come help me with mine?
    karin/lifeinsmallchunks.blogspot.com

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  9. Hilarious that you painted the branch stubs. But smart! I love the final result.

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  10. Santa came early! I've been a REALLY good boy this year.

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  11. YOU KNOW SOMETHING I LIKE IT ALSO. IT'S ACTUALLY VERY BEAUTIFUL. GRANNY FROM FLORIDA

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  12. Anytime, Karin!

    Hi, Rie; thank you!

    WELL, THANK YOU, GRANNY! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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  13. I think you did a pretty splendid job!

    the third to last photo is great

    I am glad you made the feather tree reference because thats what I was thinking as I saw the cut aways
    ~did you save any of the boughs to make any swag or garlands?

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  14. I love it. But a therapist might have a field day with you!

    It really looks beautiful.

    xo
    Claudia

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  15. reub, The cut boughs are going on the lavender in the garden for insulation. They will be picked up by the city in the spring to make compost.

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  16. I love the way you were so creatively obsessed (possessed?) with it. It's marvelous!

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  17. I like it! Very creative and all Yours!

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  18. Deliciously ethereal, Svengali! You have the tree equivalent of a super-model.

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  19. Oh you're such a perfectionist, you'd be the perfect house mate.
    I think your tree is beautiful.

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  20. Thanks, Jen and Chlvie.

    Tricia Rose, A supermodel like Heidi Klum or Tyra Banks? Hopefully not Naomi Campbell!

    Thank you, Tabitha!

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  21. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!! I cant get over the wonderful victorian air it has mixed in with 1940's and 50's decorations. Its just wonderful.

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  22. Martha S would love your tree. I do like it very much. It's perfect for showing off all of your lovely ornaments. I see we have the same taste. I don't know if you're OCD or not, but you are funny.

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  23. Hey wait a sec, is that really your Granny???

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  24. I think your tree is just grand!It's perfect!

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  25. Oh goodness......I thought you had trimmed too much until I saw the end result. It is really beautiful and I love it. I never heard anyone paint their tree. My son -in-law trims branches and then drills holes in the tree to fill in. They go to the mountains were they want you to chop down trees for $10. There trees are wild, branches going everywhere and I love them. Merry Christmas.

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  26. Aw, shucks, people; you're making me blush. Thank you; I'm glad you like it too!

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  27. Steve,
    I think you may have started a new Christmas Tree as Art trend. It really is beautiful and brings back memories of way back when trees weren't trimmed to be perfect. It's wonderful. Who wouldn't touch up their tree if necessary?
    am

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  28. Incredible as always! I love your vision :)

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  29. Steve: This is amazing! It is the perfect tree for your home. Love it. Cindy

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  30. At first it looked like the trees we use to cut off from my grandparents property when I was a kid. But you totally rocked it. Ilove your ornaments. I have a thing for vintage ornaments. next year I will hope to do the same love it.
    Cathy

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  31. Okay one of us has to move. I don't think I want to live this far away from such a font of creativity.

    No but seriously....I mean it.

    Your
    Christmas
    Tree Is Over
    The Top Fabulous
    I Stand In Awe Of Your
    Creation
    xoxo
    xo
    x

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  32. Steve,
    I haven't purchased my tree yet but now I am so inspired by your tree that I will look with a more discernible eye when choosing mine this weekend. Your tree is just beautiful.

    Wishing you, and your four legged friends, a very merry holiday.

    Bridgemor

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  33. I wasn't sure I would like it, but ... I LOVE it! Can we call you Martha? You're very meticulous with all your careful pruning and even painting the cut marks! Wow. I can only imagine how tedious the lighting must have been.

    Great vintage ornaments, too. They are my favorite. I started collecting them some years ago, and this year our tree has mostly antique ornaments on it.

    Nice job! I could see this on the pages of MS Living.
    Claudia

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  34. Oh, and yes, I find it nearly impossible to photograph a lighted tree at night. Your photos look very good.
    Claudia

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  35. This is my most favorite tree ever! Really. I have looked for this variety before and they do cost a fortune. You were quite the savvy one to come up with this pruning technique which seems so obvious now, but had never thought of it before. And the BM paint pots? Brilliant! Waiting with baited breath to see what the next tree looks like.

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  36. I love your tree, I mean I REALLY love it. Did you ever see the movie "The Bishop's Wife" with Loretta Young and Cary Grant? It is my favorite Christmas movie and the tree in it is also original and natural with lots of space between the branches, check it out. I'll try to post a picture if I can find it. What does it say about you? It says you are a romantic, nostalgic old soul and want to have a tree like the first ones many years ago, when life was more simple. Oh, so clever to trim it yourself to get exactly what you want.

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  37. What does this say about you?!
    OMG! what does it say about ME?
    This post has been a revelation to me. I love the odd/imperfect but I would have been driven crazy by the exposed cut. Painting it was brilliant! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this and I have been so bored and bah humbug about Christmas this year.
    Of course you post this and that tree slaps me in the face. It's like "Don't hate me because I'm Beautiful just look at me and weep".
    Yep, you've done it again.
    Bravo!

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  38. Ok Steve, you are officially a Christmas rock star!!!

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  39. simply beautiful..you have a good eye..one of the prettiest I haveseen on Pinterest this year..Merry Christmas to you!

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  40. It says you are the most anal person I've ever kinda have met! I can't believe you painted the cuts at the trunk! But...bravo...you win the 2011 Xmas of the Year Award...You're prize is in the mail!

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  41. Randy/A.J. Barnes, But you don't have my address!

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  42. ummm, you wouldn't be MAD at the person who pinned it would you?
    I mean, I'm sure lots of people have already pinned it!

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  43. Nope, not mad at all! I think it's funny. I just pinned a few of the photos myself so people are getting it straight from the horse's mouth.

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  44. ANOTHER TREE?
    This is too good to be true.
    Okay, I am all set to be dazzled again. Any, clues?
    Your imperfect tree is perfection.
    I am happy that you are pleased.

    Linda

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  45. That you have Benjamin Moore Willow CC-542 on hand says as much about you as the tree! I wish you lived next door. Or vice versa.

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  46. Mark,
    Yes, I collect BM sample pots. They come in very handy for mixing up potions to disguise blemishes around an old house.

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  47. Keep blushing -- I love it!

    Please post yourself to Connecticut--it's practically down the road.

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  48. Hi t,
    Thank you! Connecticut IS just down the road.

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  49. Hi Steve

    I was a trifle nervous when you began amputating the tree. The end result is just beautiful and reminds me of the type of natural Christmas trees we knew as children
    Helen

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  50. I think it's absolutely charming and worth every bit of perfectionism and care. And I agree...I've been trying to take pictures of my tree all day (and night...to no avail, now the battery is dead...will try again tomorrow. I must say...your images came out wonderfully!
    xo J~

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  51. Thanks, 24 corners. I found the best ones resulted from having the lamps on in the room so the room light balances the tree lights. No lights in the room only shows the tree lights and the ornaments are dark. I played with shutter speed and since I have the tree lights on a remote, I turned the lights on and off really quickly during a several second shot. That didn't work very well. Try bring a few lamps to bring some soft light into the room if necessary.

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  52. Well Steve, I love everything about your tree. The imperfectness of it is what makes it so lovely. I would love to spend just one day inside your head. The things I could do to my house would be so much fun.

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  53. AWESOME! I only wish you would have posted this before I put mine up. I would have totally copied!

    The stepping back to observe, the mad layering and painting the truck probably are an indication of a slight OCD . . . but I think only you could pull this off so fantastically! I'm seriously jealous of this one. :)

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  54. Well, I am late to the party as usual.

    I think everyone already said it all. It is very interesting. I definitely like it. I envy that you have permission to do whatever the hell you want in your house, decor-wise (I am restricted by what someone's mother did or did not do).

    It is very Zen and I imagine it was cathartic. There is something so beautiful about striving towards an ideal.

    And I want to say something profound about you, other than that you need therapy, but I can't think of anything clever other than that I am weirdly impressed and inspired but also a little freaked out by your slavish devotion to your beauty ideals. I mean that in the best possible way. And yes, it is impossible to get a good photo of a Christmas tree.

    I think I have the word for you now, after all that...
    you are an aesthete of the highest order.

    xo Terri

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  55. Glad you decided to link to TDC's party. I did too! I saw you there.
    I ADORE your tree!
    So vintage, so, so, so, great! I have not words. I love it!

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  56. Now I know why we are friends. We are bound by OCD! Disorder then order! It is so beautiful, Steve. The patience you have. Crazy impressive. Did I say I laughed out loud at the paint? Brilliant. you kill me. Your images are just.so.pretty. Well done!

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  57. seems light and feathery to me....smiles

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  58. okay Steve..I love it! I've been back 3 times and finally have time to leave a comment...so much to say! As I was reading along, you were kinda saying everything that was coming to mind...like you wanted a very imperfect tree and then decorated it perfectly. Which is why it is so magnificent! And those last few photos are amazing, because yes I do think it's impossible to photograph a lit tee in the dark...yours looks great. I love all the vintage ornaments and it makes me wish I bought some at the last few flea markets. Your tree does actually remind me of the Victorian feather tree...in a good way. I cannot believe you painted the fresh cuts...who even thinks of that? Makes me want some eggnog and a little holiday music...cheers!
    annie

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  59. Steve, yes I was chuckling and then I started liking the tree, then a little more giggling, then I am loving the tree!! maybe we are both OCD? And I am okay with that!

    Do come and enter more of my 12 Days of Holiday Giveaways, the latest two are from Kerry of Design du Monde, and Fifi Flowers

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  60. found you thru Artie... newest follower! Come by and say hi!!

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  61. Super job lacing out the tree! I like that extra touch of painting the pruned areas. Some year, when I have a tree again, I’ll remember the floral wire. Does that cat ornament on the right side of the tree belong to your kitties?

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  62. Love it! Every time I visit your blog I am in awe of your talent. Beautiful!!

    Shea
    Virginia Beach

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  63. I think its lovely. I wish I had the patience for such things.

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  64. Sheer genius. It looks truly awesome. Kudos for creating the tree of your dreams (and mine)!

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  65. WHY did you ever hack away at the tree to begin with?! It looked perfectly nice to start!

    Leigh

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  66. I think it looks great. I love that look resembling a feather tree, but still a wild looking natural tree. I would never have the patience to do the lights though. And as far as taking good pics of trees, ask Michael P how to get a nice one!! I bet he knows.

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  67. PS Yes i think I saw it on pinterest~I think Nita pinned it!!

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  68. I've had good luck in the past with popping the flash at the end of a long exposure. The long exposure lets the lights register, and the flash then illuminates the other details. It requires a tripod, of course. You might have to experiment a bit to figure out how strong the flash needs to be.

    I think your "imperfect" tree is absolutely perfect. It's beautiful and has a real period feel to it.

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  69. Love it!

    i pruned about 20pct of the branches from our tree...I wasn't bold enough to keep cutting

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  70. Put the second tree in a safe spot and let the cats go crazy with it! That should help protect this tree.

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  71. Absolutely beautfiul. Totally unique. Perfect.

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  72. Lots of laugh about your comment on wanting an imperfect tree but needing control on the ornamentation. I actually love the final product. Very beautifull. Big pat on the back!

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  73. I love your tree. It's beautiful. I would have been nervous cutting off the branches, but it sure did turn out awesome.The ornaments look lovely when hung this way..Bonnie in
    WI

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  74. Thank you SO much, everyone. I wish I could respond to you all personally. Yes, you definitely need guts to cut away at the tree but I figured for $24.50, there wasn't a huge monetary risk. I could have put the tree out in the garden or on the front porch and decorated it anyway and enjoyed it.

    I'm glad you all like the result.

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  75. Looks soooo good! Loved it!
    By the way,your house is beautiful. Very inspiring.
    Happy holidays!

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  76. Wow! It is the dream tree in my head that never becomes a real part of our Christmas. Just beautiful! Our tree is nice but this one is a show stopper.
    xo Dianne

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  77. WOW WEE that tree is amazing. I LOVE IT. LOVE IT. THanks for sharing. I so understood what you were saying in your first post about the tree you wanted and I am so glad you got it! It is BEAUTIFUL.

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  78. Glad you stopped when you did before it became a CHristmas pole! It was just in the nick of time and looks stunning!

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  79. I love the result! While your tree doesn't really look like a Silvertip, it is absolutely beautiful, and is reminiscent of the Victorian tree you have pictured.

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  80. Thanks, Dianne.

    Thanks, Lynda.

    Annie, Christmas poles are next BIG thing!

    LuvWheaties, I agree. When you experiment, you never know what you're doing to end up with.

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  81. Steve,
    I've been reading your blog for a while and have rarely commented.
    I've learned that you are creative, talented and funny. I knew you were somewhere in MA. I always wondered where because my Mom spent a large part of her childhood in Cambridge. After reading a post you left on Joans blog ( for the love of a house) I decided it was time to stop and leave a longer post telling you how much I appreciate your blog.
    Kathy - on a river island on the coast of ga

    p.s GREAT Christmas tree !

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  82. I love your tree. I don't have time for things like that, but there was a time when I did. And, mmmmmm, fueled with eggnog, all the nicer!

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  83. Kathy,
    THANK YOU for speaking up! So cool that your mom grew up here. If there's anything you'd like me to go photograph (house where she lived) let me know. I have access to old phone directories so I can look things up too through the mid-'50s. I'd be happy to do that.

    Merry Christmas to you in GA!

    Steve

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  84. Your tree is breathtakingly beautiful and reminds me so much of the trees we had when I was young. Thank you so much for sharing. Rachael in MT

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  85. You are a paradox!

    The tree is charming imperfection Steve... so clever... looks very much like "The Night Before Christmas" tree! You are an artist, to be sure. So glad to have discovered your blog. It's such a pleasure to visit here and see your visions come to life.

    Warmly,
    Tracey
    x0x

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  86. Your Victorian tree is a fun departure. Thanks for visiting Dovecote Decor!!
    Best,
    Liz

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  87. I love, love your tree and how you decorated it! I'm so glad you pruned it; for the first time this year we cut a tree down in the forest, and I love how imperfect it is!

    Merry Christmas!
    Sue

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  88. Wow, I just found your blog via this Christmas tree and it looks amazing! I love old victorian Christmas illustrations, and your tree totally recalls those celebrations. Awesome!

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  89. You did an AWESOME job!
    You captured the look perfectly.
    Wiring the light to the brances....BRILLIANT!
    You are a true artist.
    A Very Merry Christmas!
    Adam

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  90. Steve, this tree is AMAZING. I can see why you and Ma'am Shelley are friends. Judging from the responses you've already received, I don't know that I can add anything that hasn't already been said. So, bravo, and thanks for my daily dose of beauty.

    Peicha
    Falls Flowers, Philadelphia

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  91. beautiful!!! i am inspired ( for next year :) )

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  92. How beautiful. You have an amazing tree. Thanks for the paint tip. Did you use the trimmings to make a wreath for your door - - - or another tree?

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  93. It's a labour of love, and a work of art. Bravo!

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  94. Anonymous 1:50 - I hope you'll come back and show us!

    C. Joy - the trimmings went on the garden to insulate my new lavender and hydrangea plants.

    Pam, Thank you!

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  95. Well, Steve, I'm just exhausted reading all this praise. and afraid to add to it for fear of causing your head to get so big it explodes! So I'll wait for the second tree. I'm wondering if it's getting major surgery or if you have something else completely unexpected to treat us (and yourself) to.

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  96. This post has me singing "O Tannenbaum" . . .

    I love it! It is stunning! I can't wait to see the next tree!

    Last year I spray-painted an artificial tree white, gold, then silver - I loved it!

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  97. simply stunning this goes in the Pinterest file for sure!

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  98. Just discovered your blog last weekend and spent many enjoyable hours catching up with your house renovation and decoration and wanted to chime in with admiration! I enjoyed every single post. As someone who works in design and construction with a background in architectural history, your writing and photos have been a treat. And I'm afraid it's very true. Good design comes wrapped in an obsession with details of every kind. To me, it shows how much you care and it's something to be very proud of in the end. Nice to find a fellow spirit nearby! Merry Christmas.

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  99. Hi, Michele!
    Thanks for chiming in. I hope to get back to renovation in the new year. There are a lot of wonderful examples of Greek Revival homes in the area so I had a lot of details to study. The inside is much harder because I don't want to create a museum but rather something that hits on a few points on the continuum of its history up through today. Much tougher.
    Merry Christmas to you!
    Steve

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  100. That is probably the most beautiful tree I've ever seen. It's too perfect to be random. It just pulls me right into the room! I've never been able to photograph my tree, no matter what. But your tree pics are gorgeous, in my opinion.

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  101. I think it says you are as perfect as that tree! I love it!!

    merry xmas and happy eggnog!
    joan

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  102. p.s. I should also say I am very happy to know what BM color matches a xmas tree. I would have done the same thing!! I paint the ends of my pumpkin stems in the Fall. I hate when they are white and the stem is brown. Don't forget that Burnt Umber works magic on just about everything;) With this information we could either go with... great minds think alike, or we're both just crazy. I'm going with great minds!! More eggnog, please!

    j.

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  103. The tree turned out soooo great. I love it...just overburdened with ornaments.

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  104. Oooooo, LOVE it! It's just beautiful!

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  105. I absolutely love the Victorian tree look. Did you happen to see the tree made from branches at Mahoney's? I tried to buy but was told it was just for display and it was made from dead tree branches.

    Love your mixture of vintage and Target ornaments. Must get me some plastic ones, why do my kitties always eye the vintage ones as potential toys?

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  106. You are so talented!! I wish I had the time and skill to take this on... Thank you for sharing.

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  107. really? how exactly does one comment after it appears that all has been said? well, all the goodness and gushing has been said.

    cheers to your charlie-brown-tree turned prince!

    pinning the hell outta it...

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  108. Your tree is stunning! The paint was a stroke of genius! And I think your photos are lovely - I would agree tree photos are difficult! Especially when trying to capture the warm glow and the ornaments all at once!

    Hope you have a lovely Christmas - we'll be passing through Boston enroute to Minneapolis. I'll wave from the air!
    Renata

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  109. I just had to show off your tree on Mod Mix Monday even though you didn't link up.

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  110. Thanks to Nita, I found your tree AND your blog! I love that tree!! I must be an idiot because I never thought to prune branches to get that old-fashioned look, not to mention space to hang ornaments. Anywho ... it's beautiful.

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  111. Your tree is lovely! I would not have the patience to do all the trimming, but I applaud you for doing so. Your tree really becomes the canvas for your artwork - the ornaments. Beautiful.

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  112. I am in love with this and may have to buy a January tree to gently prune myself. LOVE!!!

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  113. This is amazing, I love this style of tree but would have never had the guts to try and create one. maybe next year!!
    I love the result, stunning!
    Theresa

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  114. You won best Christmas Tree from Tartanscot! Congratulations!

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  115. I'm starting to not like you and want to marry you at the same time. Just think we could sit around and obsess about simple beautiful decor 24/7. What a match. I am not even going to comment on that tree....OH GOD IT'S PERFECT. There I said it. Happy now?

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  116. Congratulations on your win over at Tartan Scot! It's a beautiful tree and you've inspired me to start working on my 4th tree of the season - the first in November for a photo shoot, then 2 at a house tour. Now finally the one for my house!

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  117. you.are.killing.me.

    I have always wanted to prune my branches like that but have been scared to death of it every year. thanks for giving me courage. fantastic in every way! donna

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  118. I love that you pruned your tree fearlessly (really loved the process - kind of reminded me of myself with a pair of scissors and my barbie's hair when I was little) and love even more that you painted the cuts - I think I would have done the same (painted them) but would never in a million years thought of it beforehand by buying the lichen. I am especially in awe that you wired the lights - you win the patience of the year award! GREAT job - GREAT post!

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  119. For real? I would have never thought to do that but it looks amazing!

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  120. Oh my stars!! I am little behind in reading my blogs because of Christmas business but I had to comment on your tree! How many hours did this take you? It is absolutely amazing. You are one talented person. Good on ya!!!!

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  121. Oh my goodness! This is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen! If this was a contest you would get my vote. The layers and lighting is just gorgeous! Wow! I'm pinning this!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

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  122. Just wanted to let you know that I remembered this post from last year and your tree was my goal for this year. I've had an artificial tree for many years, but I wanted a tree like this one. So ... today we headed to the Christmas Tree Farm and found a Norway fir similar to yours. We cut it down, brought it home, and I had to pop on over and revisit this post to make sure I prune it appropriately. Thanks so much for providing the inspiration!

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  123. That tree is amazing! You have an incredible amount of patience. Not sure I could tackle that.

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  124. I am so impressed. That tree looks awesome! I never thought about trimming out the extra branches before. I just thought there were trees somewhere in the world that grew like that and I had just never found one yet. Genius!!! Love the vintage ornaments, BTW.

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  125. I just realized this post is from last year. Well, hope your tree looks as awesome this year!

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  126. I want that tree!!!! I wish they made artificial ones that looked like that... I would so buy one.

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    Replies
    1. I bought one that is very close at Grandinroad.com but I believe they have sold out. I've searched for years and will still have to prune it to work but nothing beats the real thing, I'm afraid.

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  127. this is gorgeous! i agree with the comment above... i want an artificial tree this shape!

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  128. What a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial and the idea- down to the paint color for the trunk! LOL! So amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  129. I love the Victorian style of your tree!

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  130. I was blog hopping for some Christmas tree decorating ideas to try this year and I saw this post and I said "wow, that was pretty". I love it!

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  131. And what a beautiful job you did! Love this tree.

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  132. This is the best tree I've seen in years and you have done what I've been wanting to do for quite some time now. I have a friend who did this with an artificial tree years ago and creating a nice effect but not nearly as wonderful as yours. Perfection. Will you do it every year now ?

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