Off-Ramp

A weekly look at Southern California life covering news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by John Rabe

Who flocks Christmas trees anymore? These guys, and it makes all the difference

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp

A stack of flocking. John Rabe

Until a few years ago, I thought flocked Christmas trees were strictly kitsch. I grew up in Northern Michigan, where we thought it was silly to bring snow — even ersatz snow — into the house. We spent enough time moving around the stuff outside.

But a couple years ago, something changed, and I suddenly wanted a flocked tree. Who knows, maybe I missed the snow.

So we got one, and it looked fabulous.

See, I told you.

There are probably hundreds of pop-up Christmas tree lots in Southern California, but few of them flock trees anymore. One of those is Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees in Eagle Rock (next to the Target), where Bruce Morrison works. He's been flocking for more than 20 years. "It's an art," he says. "Anybody can paint a wall, but to do the tree, you need a little bit of technique. Once you do a couple hundred of them, you get the hang of it."

First they wet the tree down with a water mister, so the flocking sticks. Then comes the flocking itself, a starchy powder that has to be sprayed on with finesse. For a natural look, more goes on the top of the tree and on the branches that hang out. Then, a quick mist with more water to seal the flocking and keep it from shedding too much when you get it home. You still need to water the tree, of course, but flocking not only looks pretty, it also adds a level of flame resistance to the tree.

Sam Nassar — with more than a decade in the business — donned the protective suit and Bane-like respirator for our video. "Every single tree looks different," he says. "So it's always an amazing experience to see what comes out of the flocker. And the look in our customers' eyes when they see it come out, ... it's something they've ever seen before. When you see the kids, their eyes light up. The mom and dad's eyes light up. It's awesome."

 

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