Sunday, November 25, 2007

Work-related: flocking room

I had always assumed that the fake snow people put on Christmas trees was something akin to Silly string, some sort of petroleum-based plastic that needed an aerosol can to be applied. And I have seen do-it-yourself kits for fake snow that seem to operate in more or less that way. At work, though, we fill orders for flocked trees by spraying trees with a mixture of water and glue, I'm told. The process is kind of elaborate and difficult-sounding.

First, the tree to be done is placed on a metal stand to hold it upright. Then, each and every one of the branches is forced to stand more upright by wiring it to the trunk -- this is because without the wiring, the weight of the wet flocking will pull down the branches at the bottom, but not the ones at the top, leaving a big and unsightly gap around the center of the tree. Wiring is a time-consuming and tedious process, and not anybody's favorite part of the job (I'm told).

The wired-up tree is then stood on a tree-sized turntable, and the glue-water mixture is sprayed up and down it as it spins around until everything is covered, after which it's left to dry. I'm a little fuzzy on the exact mechanism of the mixer and hose and all that; it's possible that I wouldn't recognize them if I saw them (I've never been in the room while this was actually being done.) Drying takes approximately a full day, potentially longer for larger trees: we ask for people to give us at least two days between order and delivery, and three is really nice if they can manage it, and this is mostly related to drying time (though availability of delivery drivers is also a factor sometimes). I've not done any of this personally, myself: it's mostly the nursery lot people who do it, though they've also brought in at least one seasonal person who does nothing but tree-flocking and related tasks.

All this glop being sprayed around winds up coating the room where the flocking is done, (uncreatively, but accurately, called "the flocking room," though it has other uses outside of the Christmas season) leading to scenes like the above. The first time you see it, it has kind of a surreal charm, but this wears off quickly.

1 comment:

Aiyana said...

And now I know. Thanks for sharing this interesting process.