Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas village tree.

This post is quite particular.  I debated writing, but opted to when I didn't find any tutorials in a very brief search when I first started the build. 

My grandma has several light-up houses from the St. Nicholas Square village collection.  I don't know much about it - it may not even be a collection.  It may just be things.  Regardless, she has a lot of these things and in the past, she's bridged several banquet tables around her sunroom and created a vast village.  It was impressive, but incredibly time consuming, and she'll be the first to admit she didn't like doing it.  She loved looking at it.  She didn't love setting it up. 

My mum approached me with an idea she found on Pinterest of Christmas villages set up in a display that mirrored a Christmas tree.  It was round platforms stacked on each other, wrapped in lights, garland and ribbon, with the Christmas villages twisting throughout.  It was perfect for Grandma, but I still lamented being handed another project. 

Thankfully, my mum helped brainstorm.  We decided on a porch column in the center with plywood levels supported by 2x2 pieces of varying heights.  

To start, I built a support for the porch railing that we cut to a 6-foot height.  Using 2x4's and 2x2's, I made triangles that I attached with hidden pocket holes on the bottom and screws at the top.  This was more for balance as the post was super light and wouldn't actually be a support.

Next, I traced an opening in the middle of each of the plywood boards using the scrap piece of the post.  I added an allowance as these would be sliding up and over the post, as well as where we would drop the light switches.  

We used four sizes of plywood, and this determination was random.  My mum gave us a 4-foot square, so that was the bottom.  We purchased a 3.5-foot square, then found a 2-foot and 1-foot square in our wood pile. 

Then we debated heights for the shelves.  This was difficult as we do not own any of the village houses and though the obvious answer would be to google, we didn't do that.  Hindsight is 20/20.  We settled on 2 feet for the first platform (this was the most thought as we didn't want my gram bending down too much), a foot and a half for the second, and a foot for the third and fourth.  A foot turned out to be too short for some of the chapels.  

The leg heights are on the right side, the base sizes on the left.

We screwed the legs into the platform with 1 1/4" wood screws.  We didn't screw the platforms into each other (meaning the legs sitting on top of the platforms aren't screwed into the one below).  The number of legs per platform varied:  on the two bottom platforms, we did 8 legs; four sufficed for the top.  

I rounded the corners of the bottom pieces, though it it not obvious after I upholstered them in batting and trimmed them with garland.  A staple gun made that fast work.  Quick thought on making this round versus square, because that is the first lament of two of my uncles: yes, Christmas trees are round and the obvious (I'm using that word too much here today) would be to make this round.  However, that severely cuts out the surface area for houses.  I would do that if this was going to the ground.  Being that it wasn't, I'm glad we didn't because Gram wouldn't be crouching down to see the bottom. 

At the very top, I glued (apparently off-center) a simple finale I painted and glittered.  

Even before it was assembled, Gram was mingling about and setting up the village.  That's why there's a pond, a couple churches, and garland wrapped around the legs in the creation of a "forest" in my before set up picture. 

A couple hours and several critiques later, we were complete.

We then fished the wires through the center and into four power strips.  One power strip hides in the back of the first platform while the other three are on the ground and need a quick toe to turn them on.

This village has its lake, shopping, fancy shopping, dining, and plenty of church options.  There's a schoolhouse and a fire house and a few horse-drawn carriages. 

The gentlemen tip their hats to the ladies, here, and it's in your best interest to understand that. Also the man that looks like a pedofile in the bushes is actually a policeman joining a game of blind man's bluff. And if you see a lady carrying flowers in a red jacket, that's my grandma.

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