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Give a felled branch a second life as a whimsical coat rack. Photo: Gina Provenzano

It's easy to miss the beauty of a single branch when it's one of many that make up a tree. Then one day, that branch breaks from its trunk and ends up just another piece of debris to be cleaned from your backyard (or left to decay).

But a really interesting-looking branch can be much more than just fodder for the wood chipper. In fact, I recently found a large branch with lots of handy offshoots -- so I repurposed it into this rustic coat rack.

West Elm sold something similar a while back and the results were fabulous, as noted on Apartment Therapy. They probably got their inspiration from designer Erich Ginder's Ghost Tree Coat Rack featured on DesignPublic.

Now you can make your own branch coat rack for free (plus a few inexpensive tools). First, I'll show you how to choose a branch and turn it into a coat rack. Then I'll teach you how to make the base.






HOW TO MAKE THE COAT RACK

Tools & Supplies

- Hacksaw
- Utility knife
- Acrylic-based sealer
- Small paint brush

Instructions

1. First, choose your twig. Pick a felled branch that's not too wet or rotten. It should be about 5 to 6 feet in length. Opt for one with multiple sturdy limbs that fan out and have additional offshoot branches. The more extremities your branch has, the more items you'll be able to hang.

2. Check for bugs. Any signs of tiny holes and little squiggles could be an indication of worms or termites. Scrape off the bark with a utility knife to determine if the wood surface is penetrated. If not, it should be safe to use.

Peel Bark from branch before drying. Photo: Gina Provenzano

3. Using a hacksaw, cut any spindly twigs off branches so that what remains are essentially stubs that range in length from 2 to 8 inches. Trim the bottom of the branch so it's flat. Then, using your fingers and a chisel or flat scraper, remove the bark from the tree.

4. Bring the branch into a warm, dry area, on a well-protected surface to dry. Allow the branch to dry indoors for at least a week. The longer your branch dries, the longer it will last and the less chance you will have for sap to seep out.

5. When dry, use an acrylic based sealer and brush stubs ends to further prevent sap from seeping. Allow to dry.

HOW TO MAKE A BASE FOR YOUR COAT RACK

Tools & Supplies

- 12" to 16" Planter Pot with drainage holes sealed
- DAP Plaster of Paris, 8-lb tub
- Stirrer
- Water
- Gloves
- Drop cloth
- Filler rocks
- Decorative Rocks


Instructions

Add rocks to weight down base. Photo: Gina Provenzano

1. Place the pot on a well-protected surface. Insert the branch into the pot and add a 2" layer of filler rock. It helps to have another person to hold the branch in place while you pour the plaster to set the branch.

2. Working quickly, mix water into dry plaster tub according to manufacturer's directions (should be 2 parts mix to 1 part water). Stir to even consistency, then pour some over rocks in tub.

3. Add more filler rock, then more plaster while your helper holds the branch in place.

Pour plaster into base to set branch in place. Photo: Gina Provenzano

4. Continue adding filler rock and plaster until the level is about 2 1/2 inches from top lip of pot.

5. Add a little more plaster than finish with decorative rocks. Adding the filler rocks to the plaster makes the base heavy which helps support more weighty coats and jackets. Clean any plaster from edge of pot and branch with a wet cloth.

6. Allow to dry. Plaster should set in 20 to 30 minutes.

Once dry, your twig coat stand is ready to hold jackets, scarves and hats. It's just as sturdy as any store-bought coat rack -- just with a whole lot more eco-character!

For another homemade way to bring nature inside, learn how to make gourd Luminaries in this video:





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