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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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  1. 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!