Thursday, January 26, 2012

Red Dancing Sticks • DIY for the Winter Garden

Yesterday it was white sticks. Today it is red. Read on....

Remember my post about all the sticks I have been collecting? Well, I used one of my stashes of collected sticks to create five frolicking figures to grace my winter garden.

They could stay inside as well....

I have been searching for branches that resemble dancing forms.  This fall, after the October snowstorm, many tree tops littered our woods and I went out with clippers looking for two legs, and two arms connected with a torso.  When looking for such shapes you must study the branches upside down because that is the way the human forms grow in the trees. Here is a sample of one right-side up being a tree but looking like a person standing on his head!

These forms grow in the crowns of trees so the storm damage provide easy access to many tops. I went out with clippers and harvested five. The steps for making them into frolicking folk are quite simple.

Dancing Sticks Tutorial:

Supplies needed
  • Branches shaped like people
  • 1 screw eye for each
  • String
  • Spray paint- color of your choice
  • Round logs for bases

Equipment needed:
  • Branch Clippers
  • Band Saw
  • Drill Press
  • wooden mallet

The Process:
  • Once you have found your branches, use the clippers to clip them down to size.  I found leaving the legs and arms disproportionally long added to the visual motion.
  • Screw a screw eye into the head end and thread a piece of twine or string through it.
  • Use the string to tie the stick to a tree branch so it spins freely.

  • Use the spray paint to spray all surfaces. It spins beautifully from the tree but creates a rather unsettling site - many stick bodies hanging and spinning in the breeze. I chose red red because it is a complement to the summer green but stands out against the winter white. 

  • As always with spray painting, read the label, watch the temperature, work in a well ventilated place, and do many light coats.
  • While drying, cut logs for bases.  My trees were about 3 -4' high and I used logs about 6" in diameter. David helped :-) 

  • Drill a hole into the end grain of the log base.

  • We drilled it larger than the leg and filled the space with scrap wood. It allowed us to better position the dancing figure.

  • We then brought them outside and positioned them strolling along our stone retaining wall. The red adds much to the winter garden.

This project took a long afternoon. I finished these folk several weeks ago and I have been waiting for the perfect snow to take final photographs and share them. Today it is over 50º outside! No snow in site. Time to share. I will photograph them against a pristine white snow and share it when we get it!

Idea credit:
I have a dancing stick created by Nathaniel B. Smith of Duxbury, MA. He doesn't seem to have a website or I'd add a link. He is a tree smith, and saves branches he finds. He carefully peels off all the bark and makes beautiful indoor sculptures with them.  Here is our original dancing stick. What grace.

My outdoor variety is quick and easy. The original shows hours and hours of work which adds to its beauty and grace.

Previous Posts of Interest


  1. so cool!! I love this idea! My favorite are the little dancers along the edge of the stone wall...pinning!

  2. such an original
    and quirky idea

    love these
    and so glad you shared at Fridays Unfolded!


  3. marylnail@bellsouth.netJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    This is great!

  4. Love this! Such a creative and unique idea!

  5. Looks so cool! New follower :)

    Britta @

  6. Oh wow..these are so stunning and thanks so much for sharing your wonderful 'How To' tutorial.

    1. If you have a supply of trees that need trimming, this is a quick and easy project with great impact. Stay tuned. We have more coming!