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Glitter is sprinkled onto the bottle before the paint dries at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Florida. Students create decorations for the holiday tree they plan to exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art's annual Festival of Trees.

ORLANDO, Fla. — For weeks, students at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Fla., have been coming home splattered with paint and dusted with glitter.

It's one of the hazards of creating decorations for the holiday tree they plan to exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art's annual Festival of Trees.

The decorations are all made from recycled soda and water bottles under the direction of art teacher Dale Wayne.

"We're up to our elbows in glue and glitter," says Wayne, leading a tour through the crowded art room, pointing out the steps needed to create the colorful ornaments.

They are easy enough to make at home — if you don't mind a little mess, she says. After the bottles are washed and the labels removed, they are colored with acrylic paint, dipped in glitter and cut into fantastical shapes. Two or three are then glued or wired together, creating fantastical blossoms fit for Avatar's planet Pandora.

The theme of this year's Festival of Trees is "Red Hot for the Holidays," but these students are adding purple, green, gold and silver to their creations.

New this year is the Growing Forest, a collection of 4-foot-to-6-foot, artificial trees with decorations themed to different settings — kitchen, child's room, beach house, mountain cabin.


Art teacher Dale Wayne offers these directions for recycling plastic bottles into decorations.


2-liter soda bottles or water bottles

Embossing (heat) gun, optional

Rubbing alcohol

Acrylic paint



Wired floral picks

Hot glue suitable for gluing plastic


Rinse bottle and remove label and cap.

Clean bottle with rubbing alcohol to make paint adhere better.

Paint bottle with acrylic paint.

Roll bottle in glitter while paint is still wet.

Cut the bottom off the bottle, then cut petals or spirals, starting at the bottom and working up toward the neck. If you cut a wide spiral, you can go back and cut up the center of the spiral, creating two springs.


Manipulate the petals or spirals by hand or with heat. By hand, bend the petals back and pinch at the base to hold the shape. With a heat gun, hold the nozzle of the gun close to the edges of the petals or spirals, causing them to shrink and curl, creating a glass-like effect. Work in a well-ventilatea area, preferably outdoors.


Nest two bottles together.

Thread a wired floral pick (available at craft stores) into the center of the bottles. Hot-glue the bottles together or use part of the pick to wire them together.

Hot-glue extra petals and embellishments, if desired.

Attach the ornament to your tree using the ends of the wired pick to wrap the ornament to the branch.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.