Tutorial: Manzanita Wedding Trees/Centerpieces

These instructions are for creating a base for one Manzanita branch, 18 inches high. This is a really simple and fun project! We also have a newer, faster and cleaner method of mounting your branches, located here. Materials used in this demonstration:
  • One 5 x 5 block of foam
  • One plastic container (8 inches in diameter, 7 inches tall) or a paper mache container
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Newspapers
  • Disposable container for mixing the plaster
The foam block and Plaster of Paris were easily obtained at a craft store (Michaels Crafts in this case). The plastic container was purchased at Home Depot, and is actually a plastic flower pot. Another choice is to use a Paper Mache pot, which is available here at Bloomsandbranches.com. Materials Step 1. After preparing your work area to protect from plaster misshaps, start by inserting the base of your Manzanita tree into the block of foam. Use firm and steady pressure, being careful not to move the branch around. We don't want to make the hole in the foam oversized. 2 or 3 inches ought to be enough. If something goes wrong, you can always turn the foam over and use the other side. Step 2. Gently lift the and block and branch together, and place it into the container. Use gentle pressure to seat the block snugly down into the container, making sure it's level. Step 3. You can fill the rest of the container with Plaster of Paris, however for this demonstration we rolled up small sections of newspaper and stuffed them neatly around the foam block, leaving about 2 inches of space to the top of the container. Step 4. Mix your Plaster of Paris according to the instructions on the can. A heavier batch (not too soupy) is easier to work with, and sets faster. Pour the plaster into the container, spreading it evenly over the top of the foam block. Fill to within 1/2 inch of the top. Be advised that a glass container may be a problem, as this material can expand and heat up a bit and could break the glass. Step 5. That's it! Set your tree out of the way for about 20 to 30 minutes while the plaster cures. After the plaster has cured, place other materials on top and around the base to conceal the plaster. Note: An alternative to Plaster of Paris is an aerosol foam that is sold in hardware stores, sometimes call FireStop. It's used in construction to seal around electrical openings and other situations where a firewall is penetrated and must be sealed according to building codes. It's much faster, expands well and sets up quickly. Of course, visit BloomsAndBranches.com to order any size Manzanita branches for your event or home decorating needs.