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Creating a Tree of Life

Lazenby’s Decorative Arts Studio’s Tree of Life Donor Wall at a local synagogue generated notice. The nonprofit organization Artists on The Bluff requested a similar project on a smaller scale. The leaves would be sold to raise funds for the organization, and the donors’ names inscribed on the leaves. Installing the dimensional features of the decorative tree on an 88- year-old lathe plaster wall would pose a challenge, but it was nothing the company’s decorative artist couldn’t handle.

The Tree of Life Donor Wall features real vine and woods as well as a number of unique finishes.

The first step was to treat several pieces of well-dried wisteria vine and oak branches to prevent insect infestation. Next, the basic design of the tree was drawn on the wall. Preselected pieces of wood were then glued and lag-bolted in place. Areas where the wood met plaster were caulked with an elastomeric caulk/adhesive.

The tree began with wisteria vine and oak branches that were glued into place.

Next, the artist added additional branches using a mixture of joint compound modified with white acrylic caulk, white glue and granulated gypsum. The mixture was applied using a large cake decorator bag. In areas where the texture met the wood, synthetic drywall tape was added to secure the area. After drying, the textured areas were sanded to create a unified surface. The wood and textured areas were then primed.

Wood and textured areas were sprayed metallic gold, then stained.

Finally, the wood and textured areas were sprayed a bright metallic gold, followed by a stain coat over all the gold areas. A glossy topcoat was added on the wood and textured areas, with gold mica powder added to enhance the shimmer. The background was then painted a soft, pale yellow. A decorative stone base covered in moss, synthetic olive leaves and olives, and several hundred brass leaves completed this tree of life.

Gold mica powder enhances the tree's shimmer.

Key Products

  • Zinsser’s Bulls Eye 123 water-base primer/sealer
  • Faux Effects Faux Color Antique Mahogany
  • Minwax Polyurethane