Gustav Klimt 3D Trees

Gustav Klimt 3D Trees
Aus­trian painter, Gus­tav Klimt, was an impor­tant fig­ure in the Art Nou­veau move­ment at the turn of the 20th cen­tury. His “Tree of Life” paint­ing inspired this project — a favorite with my 1st graders every spring. After all, when you com­bine 3D art, gold pipe clean­ers and live, grow­ing grass… how can you go wrong??!


  • Gold pipe clean­ers, 6 per stu­dent (or use brown for a more “nat­ural” look)
  • 1/2 pipe cleaner in a con­trast­ing color (for bird)
  • Small plas­tic con­tainer (recy­cled apple­sauce con­tain­ers work great)
  • Florist foam
  • Grass seed

1. Cut florist foam about the size of your con­tain­ers. Press foam into con­tain­ers. (Florist foam is easy to cut with a ser­rated knife.) Make sure you have a nice, snug fit so they won’t fall out! Fill with water to just below the sur­face of the foam.

2. To form your tree, start with six pipe clean­ers. Twist two pipe clean­ers together about 2/3 of the way to the end, to form a branch. Open the ends to form a large “Y”. Then repeat two more times with your other pipe clean­ers to make a total of three branches.

3. Next, twist your three branches together to about halfway up, to form the trunk.

4. Now, wrap the ends of your branches around your fin­ger or a pen­cil to form swirls, sim­i­lar to those in Klimt’s paint­ing. Bend your branches to give your tree a more 3D effect.

4. Then, use 1/2 of a pipe cleaner in a con­trast­ing color to form a sim­ple bird. Just fold in half, then fold both ends into the mid­dle and twist it onto one of your branches. Bend each wing down to form an “M” shape.

5. Now press your tree trunk into the florist foam. Sprinkle with grass seed and place in a sunny spot. Add water as needed.… and watch your grass grow!
Gustav Klimt 3D Trees

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2 Responses to Gustav Klimt 3D Trees

  1. April 19, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Ooh this is fab­u­lous, I love it! Thanks so much for the great project, I’ll be linking.

  2. Danelle Drake April 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    I love this idea! I just fin­ished up doing a Klimt Study with my 3rd graders (sort of as a link to Earth Day.) Check out the artist Natasha Wescoat too, she was/is inspired by Klimt and I like that she is a cur­rent woman artist. Thanks for the ideas!

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