First I must tell you that taking a picture of a coat tree is roughly like taking a picture of a giant Sequoia - If you get far enough back to capture the whole thing, it ends up looking like a stick in the distance. Too tall and skinny, so click on the images for a closer view.
Another thing I have learned about coat trees is that they are an endangered species. Forbidden from hanging hooks in the walls of my new office, I set about looking to buy a coat tree. The only ones I could find anywhere were some cheesy-looking specimens I could order through the internet.
My luck changed when I found a dusty-dirty beat-up vintage one in an "antique" shop. Since it's post was flat, instead of fancily turned, it was perfect for embellishment. Wood-burning and painting embellishment, that is. The new office is all modern modular furniture in a "neutral palette" of "bamboo" and "espresso", so you can see why I needed to add COLOR (in capital letters!). I took the coat tree home, disassembled it, and sanded off as much of the old finish as possible using my new (the old one died) Mouse palm sander. My old standby pattern of vines and snakes was particularly suited to the tall skinny post. Still, it needed something more. A bird perching on the top. (I considered a fish as they are much easier to carve, but it would look too much like a weather vane.) After a few aborted attempts, I carved a chunky little folk-art bird out of balsa wood. I was concerned about burning on the balsa wood, but it worked fine so long as I worked quickly. The most arduous part of the project was polishing up the tarnished brass hooks. OK, they are still, um, aged looking - I call it added character. The whole project took only 2 Home Depot runs (one to replace the palm sander and a fresh can of varnish, and one to find replacement brass screws and brass polish), a week of evenings, and a small hole in the couch (whittling is not my strong suit). It should liven up my office considerably (not a hint of bamboo or espresso on it).