Make a Teddy Bear Tree
A Fun Christmas Project
Who wouldn't love a Christmas tree made entirely of cuddly teddy bears? It was an annual tradition at the Butler County History Museum in my hometown. People looked forward to taking their children to see the unique tree each holiday season.
The creator shared with my mother the method for making this. It really isn't that difficult once you make the framework. Store that away to use each year. It does take a little time to attach the bears to the frame but the results are worth it.
If you already have a large collection of teddy bears, then you are ready to make a tree. A quick way to get enough teddies is to visit all the thrift stores nearby. The prices are usually quite reasonable and you will get 5 or 10 at each store. It takes more than 50 bears to fill the tree.
Who Created The Teddy Bear Tree?
Teresa and Lee Grange of El Dorado, Kansas made the unique tree and put it up each Christmas at the historical museum. She said she found most of her teddy bears at yard sales and some were gifts to her.
Two really special bears on the tree are named Bertha Beargartel and Dale Beargartel. These are the creations of her friend, doll collector and craftsperson Bertha Baumgartel of Howard, Kansas.
(photos courtesy of the Butler County Historical Society in El Dorado, Kansas)
Cost: $25 to several hundred dollars
1. Use a large wood circle for the base of the tree. The size depends on your desired end result. This is what you will attach the wood lathe to.
2. A smaller wood disk part way up stabilizes the tree. Use a very small one at the top. Look where her left hand is and you will see the smaller wood disk.
Above her right hand is the smallest disk. That gives you three disks to attach the lathe to.
If you have sufficient storage space, you can leave the framework for the tree assembled and store it whole. Put it in your garage or your attic or basement. That saves you a lot of time when next Christmas rolls around.
All you have to do, is dust it off and put it in place.
3. Attach wood strips or lathe to the base, the center and top. They painted these green but they won't be seen once the teddy bears are added.
4. Wrap chicken wire around the frame you've created. Attach this with a staple gun. Be sure to turn under the sharp ends or trim those off with wire snips.
5. Place the tree-shaped frame where you want (it's best not to try moving it once the bears are attached).
6. Tie the teddy bears to the chicken wire with sturdy twist ties then add a pretty ribbon around the neck (put that through the chicken wire also). Fill the whole tree with bears with the bigger ones at the bottom and smaller bears at the top.
This part is rather time consuming.
7. Put sprigs of evergreen between the bears to fill any gaps. At the museum, they used Kansas cedar boughs. You could use the parts of an old artificial tree or fresh greenery.
Notice how varied the teddy bears are. That adds to the charm of the tree. Here you see white teddy bears, brown ones and all sorts of sizes and expressions on the stuffed animals.
Supplies You'll Need for the Teddy Bear Tree
This goes around the lathe frame to support the bears. You can find this at a farm supply store or order it from Amazon.
How Handy Are You?
If you feel you don't have the DIY skills to assemble the base for the teddy bears, find a friend to help you out. As the handy pal constructs the base from the lathe and chicken wire, keep an eye on the process. Maybe next year, you can put that together yourself.
If you have storage space for the base, like a garage, basement or attic, put it away fully-assembled. Next year, just pull it out and start attaching the bears.
Many household already have one of these on hand. Make sure you have plenty of staples for it.
Do You Have Lots of Teddy Bears?
Vote in the Poll
You'll Need Lots of Teddy Bears
This one is pretty fancy and you could feature it on top of the tree. It changes colors in the wings and even plays a Christmas tune, Silent Night.
Where Can You Display the Tree?
Besides having the tree in your own home, it would be a big hit in public places where more people can see it. How about in the public library or the local museum?
The one shown here was displayed a number of years at the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado, Kansas.
Helene Malsio's Teddy Bear Tree
How She Made Her Teddy Bear Trees
I had a couple of spare smaller artificial trees, and I didn't do all sorts of wiring or chicken wire bases or any of the usual things that instruction guides tell you to do. I just stuck a couple of broken bricks in a bucket to stabilise the trees, then wrapped the buckets in festive paper.
Then... and I love that I thought of this .... all I did was use a ton of RUBBER BANDS, one around the neck of each bear and just slip the tip of the branch behind the head/neck of each bear.
Worked like a charm. It was flexible as needed but still creates a firm hold/grip, while being invisible at the neck of the bears. It meant the trees could take quite a bit of rough handling and moving around, and the bears stayed with it without dropping off hooks and stuff. There was no need to be untying ribbons and fiddly stuff if the tree concept is to give a group of kids a bear each; the rubber band just releases the bear and off it goes to its new home. Great flexibility, and makes it easy to move each bear around the tree until you have a nice even distribution of bears.
I put tiny ones on the top and graduated the sizes to the biggest ones at the bottom.
And then just picked a color theme of decorator balls and tinsel, with a star on top.
Here's Helene's Learn-How-to-Do-It Site
- Learn How To Do It Yourself With My DIY Guide
It is simple to learn how to do it yourself when you have a great self help guide showing you how! The DIY instructions and free self help downloads HERE will make sure you succeed in your project!
Another Tree Created by Helene Malmsio
Here's How to Decorate a Regular Christmas Tree with Teddy Bears
© 2013 Virginia Allain