How to make an invisible floating Christmas tree (1960)
From Sunset magazine – December 1960
The Christmas surprise on Sunset’s cover: You see the ornaments… but where is the tree?
We’re not advocating the overthrow of the Christmas tree, but we are suggesting a way to have a tree effect without a tree — by means of an arrangement of ornaments that you can hang from your ceiling in an indoor or sheltered outdoor setting.
Below, two additional hanging groups suggest other ways to use suspended ornaments. The star can hang in a window or on a wall or over a mantle. The candles, their light augmented by a cluster of small Christmas ornaments, might decorate the top of a divider or bookcase.
The tree arrangement can be suspended over a table on which you place your gifts. A low, spreading bonsai, like the juniper pictured, adds greenery, fills the center void, and decorates the table.
How to make the invisible Christmas tree shown
A tree-shaped cone of ornaments hangs over Christmas table in lanai at home of the Wilbur Schramms, Palo Alto, California, originators of the idea on the cover.
Ornaments are held by black threads from 3-foot by 3-foot perforated hardboard on the ceiling.
How to make this Christmas tree decoration
MATERIALS: To make the cone of ornaments, you’ll need a piece of hardboard with perforations an inch apart. We used a 3 by 3-foot sheet; a larger or smaller one can be substituted, depending on your ceiling space and the final circumference desired.
To fill it, we used about 85 Christmas ornaments. Other supplies were a large spool of black thread, paper clips, scissors, and cellophane tape.
Hanging the ornaments takes time, and the tree isn’t indestructible (we found out the hard way), so find a quiet place for your work area.
Put the board at shoulder level between two high-backed chairs, to allow you to reach to the center to anchor the threads. Also, put an old blanket or pad underneath to prevent breakage of any ornaments accidentally dropped.
Draw concentric circles on the board with a crayon to suggest the general placing of ornaments. Note: Since the board is laid out in squares, your circles won’t coincide exactly with the perforations.
To create your invisible Christmas tree, thread the ornaments, allowing enough length to hang in position and some additional to anchor to the paper clip on the top side of the board.
Poke the threads through the holes from beneath, level the ornament with the others in its circle, then wind enough thread on the clip to anchor it; tape it later when you’ve checked for overall positioning.
Begin in the center with the ornament you’ve chosen to top the tree, and suspend it 12 inches or more from the board. Space subsequent circles as you desire; the greater the space between rows, of course, the more elongated the final cone.
Get several assistants and move the board carefully from the working props. Then, anchor it to the ceiling or overhead beams with eight large-headed nails or screws.