Jan 25, 2012

A Tree with a View

Into the past that is. 

I thought I'd take one of my very few spare moments to share this family tree I recently made as a Christmas gift for my Mother-in-law.

Genealogy fascinates me and I have always loved the idea of having a family tree hanging on the wall or tucked into a leather bound book.   However, my penmanship is atrocious, and I have a very difficult time trying to figure out how to fit all those names onto a page in a way that makes sense and doesn't make my eyes cross.  So, I have kept my family tree, and my husband's online with  Ancestry.com.  While I am a huge fan of the site, I have never lost that yearning for something more artistic, something that wouldn't be limited by a 2 dimensional computer screen.

 At a glance, I wanted to know where the person lived, when they were born, when they died, and when they married.  I wanted it to be easy to decipher, not make me go cross eyed, and fit into a reasonable amount of space.  
And, wouldn't it be cool if it could be a kind of sculptural art piece that could be added to easily should the tree bear more fruit.

I knew my in-laws would appreciate just such a tree, and I needed a really good gift for my Mother-in-law.  So, I hit the craft store and came up with the following plan:

 -Each side of the tree (mother-in -law and father-in-law) would have a slightly different color scheme to distinguish it's members.
-Men would be leaves, women flowers, and the grandchildren would be apples.
-Names and dates would appear on the front, and places on the back so that if curiosity struck, one could open the shadow box and gently turn the leaf to see the back. 
-Marriage dates would get their own little leaf that could be placed in the fork created by a married couple.
-In the instance of a couple, the woman would be on the right side, men on the left and any children they had would follow the same pattern, with sons on the left and daughters on the right.

I gathered my supplies, printed out all the necessary info and started punching, gluing and assembling.
Assorted papers, punches, floral wire and my new favorite,
"quick grab" tacky glue.
 After printing all the information onto card stock and punching
out the shapes, I glued the wire between the layers

  I added a third accent layer in the middle
 for the flowers to give the project a little
more color .

Florist wire seemed best for the trunk and branches.  At first, as you'll see in some of the pictures, I used regular florist wire and wrapped it with floral tape.  When I finished the project, it looked too plastic-y , so I carefully removed all the leaves and flowers and re-glued them to a cloth wrapped wire for the branches and  a heavier wire wrapped with jute for the trunk and larger boughs.  
To cover any unsightly joins,
I unwrapped the cloth/jute the glued
 it back into place in such a way
that it would hide the wires.

I worked my way from  oldest to newest ancestors forming smaller groups that could
be twisted together.  This is the back side before I switched the wire.
To prepare the shadowbox for mounting, I placed a layer of batting onto the board, covered it with my fabric, and very carefully hot glued the fabric to edges making sure I stretched it evenly as I went.

I attached the tree I using heavy duty craft thread to tack it down securely at the base of the trunk and any other points that seemed to need support.

This is how it looked after I changed the wire and mounted it, before it was put into the frame.
Should my Sister-in-law choose to have more children, it would be quite easy to add another apple.  Hear that sis?  I'm ready for ya!

Now if only I was ready to make another one of these for myself.