Insert tree branches into two plastic-foam balls that have been spray-painted, one red and one green. Hot-glue green and red peppercorns onto the balls and anchor the ensemble in a terra-cotta pot that has been painted green, sealed, and fitted with a piece of plastic foam.
For a polished look, pour additional peppercorns around the base of the topiary and tie plaid ribbon bows around the branches.
See complete instructions below.
- 5-inch-diameter terra-cotta pot
- Acrylic paints: dark green, moss green, and sage green
- 1/2-inch crafts paintbrush
- Matte-finish clear acrylic sealant spray
- Plastic-foam rectangle
- Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
- 3- and 4-inch-diameter plastic-foam balls
- Spray paint: moss green and red
- 5- and 6-inch lengths of 1/2-inch-diameter tree branch
- Peppercorns: 12 ounces each of green and red and 4 ounces of white
- Medium-size bowl
- 2 yards of 2-inch-wide green-and-red plaid wire-edge ribbon
- Paint the outside surfaces of the pot dark green, making quick strokes with the paintbrush for a mottled effect and leaving about one-fourth of the terra-cotta showing. Let the paint dry.
- Use the same technique to apply moss green followed by sage green, letting the paint dry between coats and leaving some of the previous colors showing. When the paint is dry, apply a coat of matte-finish clear acrylic sealant; let dry.
- Cut pieces from the plastic-foam rectangle to fit snugly and fill the pot. Add wedge-shape pieces of foam to fill any open spaces around the edges, positioning the foam so a flat surface is level with the top of the pot. Hot-glue the foam pieces to the inside bottom of the pot and to each other.
- Spray the 4-inch plastic-foam ball with red paint and the 3-inch ball with moss green paint, applying as many coats as needed for complete coverage; let dry.
- Insert 1 inch of the 6-inch-long branch into the bottom of the 4-inch red ball. Insert 1 inch of the 5-inch-long branch into the bottom of the 3-inch moss green ball. Insert 1 inch of the remaining end of the shorter branch into the center top of the red ball to mark the location; remove this branch from the top of the red ball, leaving each ball with a branch at the bottom.
- Place the red peppercorns in a bowl. Hold the red ball by the branch and apply a quarter-size amount of hot glue to the top of the ball, covering the area with glue so there are no spaces. Immediately hold the ball over the peppercorn bowl and use the tablespoon to sprinkle peppercorns over the glue, letting the excess fall into the bowl. When the glue is covered with peppercorns, use the back of the tablespoon to gently press the peppercorns into place. Continue applying quarter-size amounts of glue and attaching peppercorns until the ball is covered, with the exception of the branch hole at the top.
- Repeat the process to cover the moss green ball with green peppercorns.
- Remove the branch from the bottom of each ball and place hot glue inside the hole; reinsert the branch; hold for 10 seconds. To connect the balls, apply hot glue inside the hole at the top of the red ball; insert the branch at the bottom of the green ball into the hole and hold for 10 seconds.
- To secure the topiary in the pot, insert 1 inch of the bottom branch into the center of the foam in the pot. Adjust the depth of the branch until a space of 4 inches remains between the pot and the bottom ball. Remove the branch from the pot and place hot glue inside the hole; reinsert the branch and hold for 10 seconds.
- Apply hot glue to a small area of foam in the pot. Use a tablespoon to immediately sprinkle white peppercorns into the glue. Repeat to completely cover the foam in the pot with peppercorns. Randomly sprinkle a mix of green and red peppercorns over the white peppercorns.
- Cut the ribbon in half. Wrap a ribbon length around each branch, tie a bow, and trim the ends to the desired length.
Continued on page 2: Dark Chocolate Nonpareils