Introduction: Hammered Wire Tree Necklace

Picture of Hammered Wire Tree Necklace

I love to use nature, and especially trees, in my jewelry creations. Here are instructions for making a wire wrapped tree on a hand forged frame. One you learn the techniques, you can can apply them to bracelets, earrings and even rings.

Step 1:

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Step 2: What You Need

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Wire:

You can use any kind of nontoxic metal wire, though I prefer to buy jewelry grade wire online. Wire Jewelry and Rio Grande are excellent sources. If you're just beginning I recommend copper or bronze. They're inexpensive and look great with polish or patina. To get started buy at least 2 feet of 16 gauge dead soft round wire and 10 feet of 24 gauge dead soft round wire.

Beads (optional for this project):

1-2 strands of natural peridot, malachite, jade or other gemstone chips. They should be 2mm-5mm on a strand and are usually labeled small or mini. Amethyst chips are optional and would be used for blossoms on the end of branches.

Tools:

Tools are very important. I used cheap jewelry pliers (~$10) for a while, but once I was sure I would stay with wire wrapping, I got good ones (~$50). It made a huge difference, especially in how tired my hands would get. If you do this, hang on to your cheap tools - there's always a use for pliers you won't worry about. The basic tools you will need for this project are:

Flat nose pliers

Round nose pliers

Chain nose pliers - optional

Hammer

Steel block

Wire cutters

Small round mandrel, bail pliers or pen

Medium round mandrel, a pill bottle works well

Patina - optional

Sealer - optional

Step 3: Cut Your Wire

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Cut 10 pieces of 24 gauge wire - 10 inches each. (This gives you a lot of extra wire for the first project - in the future you can cut these pieces 6 - 8 inches.

Cut 1 piece of the 16 gauge wire - 9 inches.

Step 4: Shape the Wire

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Form the 16 g wire into a shape for your tree base. Here, I'm wrapping the wire around a pill bottle. You can use an object as a mandrel or make a freehand shape, using pliers, like I did for the heart base.

Note: Your base can be any size, but for the first project, make the diameter 1.5 - 2 inches.

Step 5: Start the Bail

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Your base will need at least one loop big enough for a chain or neck cord. Make this loop by firmly grabbing the end of the wire with round nosed pliers and turn using your wrist. Make sure the loop meets the straight part of the wire.

Step 6: The Base Design

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I added a second loop as part of my design. I also wound my (first) bail loop around an extra time for security and I liked the look. This is also useful if your wire is too long for the shape you have in mind.

Step 7: Flatten

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I love hammering heavy wire and I love the rustic look of hammer marks. The trick is to hammer lightly in an area and then turn over the wire to hammer the other side. Do the same thing to another section and keep going. Your wire shape will warp a lot, but each time you flip the wire and hammer the other side, it will flatten out again. Hammer gently in this manner until you like the look of your base.

Note: With wire this heavy, you don't have to hammer if you don't want to. Hammering is for aesthetics only.

Step 8: Bail

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With flat nosed pliers, turn your bail 90 degrees. Your base is starting to look like a pendant now.

Step 9: Get Creative

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Here are a few variations I made for my bases. There's a lot of room for creativity.

Step 10: To Color or Not to Color

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I added a black chemical patina (M24) to some of my bases. I then buffed the high points. These are not sealed at this point.

Step 11: Start the Tree

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Bend each 24g wire in half, but don't make a crease or sharp bend. Accuracy is not needed.

Hook the bent wire onto the base. Then twist each pair of wires 15mm-20mm from the edge of the base. Use your fingers or the flat nose pliers for this.

Step 12: Keep Twisting

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Proceed until you have twisted all the cut wires.

Step 13: Make a Trunk

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Move all the twisted wires into one spot at the bottom of the pendant.

Grab all the 24g wires about 3/4 inch past the edge. Twist them together using flat nose pliers. Keep twisting until you have a trunk you like.

Step 14: Branching Out

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The twisted trunk wires will have started to separate into groups as you twisted. Use these groups to guide you into deciding how your branches will go. Aim for 2 or 3 main branches off the trunk of at least 3 wires each. Bulky wire groups may separate out more. You can give these a couple of twists too.

Don't twist the branches as hard as the trunk - they could snap!

Step 15: Add Leaves or Leave Branches Bare

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Spread out the wire ends just enough to see what you've got to work with.

Add the gemstone chips to one branch end just past the base edge. Cut the wire to about 8mm beyond the last bead and either:

Loop the ends around the base wire

(you will still need to spiral the tips of the wires so they're not sharp)

or

Follow the instructions for making a spiral. (See next step)

Note: Sorry about the photos, but the beading is the same for this project and my other tree instructable. Also, you don't have to add beads.

Step 16: Finishing the Ends With Spirals

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For the tree branch ends you will make smaller spirals than those shown above, but you make them the same way. Start by cutting the single 24g branch end to about 8-15mm. The longer the wire, the larger the spiral.

Spirals:

You make the spiral by using your round nose pliers to make a tiny round loop at the end of a wire. Then wind the loop into a tight spiral using flat nosed pliers. To do this hold the wire in one hand and rotate the pliers in the other hand a quarter turn at a time. Make the spiral tight against the chip beads or base wire.

Step 17: Making Sturdy Jewelry

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Add more beads, finish off more branches.

As you add beads and finish the wire ends you'll need to be aware of how the branches are attached to the wire base. To make sure your tree is secure, use some or all of the following techniques on about 1/4 of the wires:


If a wire is long, you can wrap it around the back and secure it to a back bail or root wire (where it won't show).

If a wire is short you can secure the end to another branch.

You can run an end wire through the small loop of another spiral.

You can wrap the extra wire around the base wire and tuck in or spiral the ends.

Keep adding beads and securing some of the wires to other wires or the base. Let your guide be your artistic sense and your fingers tell you what feels too loose. You might have many more branch wires than you want for foliage so just cut off what you don't need. Remember to finish the ends by tucking them away or making spirals.


Note: Foliage is optional.

Step 18:

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Step 19: Finishing

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When you're done, make sure to tuck any loose ends out of the way. Under a branch is good.

Feel the pendant with your fingers for rough spots and then rub the front and back on a piece of fabric. If you find any sharp spots or wires that catch; file, trim or tuck in the problem wires until everything is perfectly smooth. Now you can seal your pendant if you want. When any finishes you’ve added are dry, your pendant is ready for a cord or chain.

Step 20: Variations

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Use your creativity and imagination too add trees to other openwork wire projects. Bracelets, earrings and rings are all possibilities. The styles and shapes are endless!

Have fun!

Comments

KataS5 made it! (author)2016-07-30

It was really fun to do, enough challenging but not too hard.
I didn't have thick wire, so I braided the copper wire, it became enough hard but still ethereal.
Thank you! :)

Excellent! I love how it looks with the braided wire (I do a version like this too : ) Thanks so much for sharing your work!

Alywolf made it! (author)2016-02-10

Thanks for the inspiration, i just had to pull out my wire and stones. This one is copper, and reclaimed copper, moon stones and the big stone is kyanite. This was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to making others.

This

DioneR (author)Alywolf2016-06-16

I would love to see or know how you did this beautiful moon. Could u please send me a message or email? Thanks

These are wonderful! I love the base shape you created. Thanks so much for sharing them!!

pwynne (author)2016-03-01

The pictures are great! I Love these and have been wanting to make one for a while, I will post pix when done - Thank you so much!!

Thank You! I'll look forward to seeing what you create!

alan joyce (author)2016-02-14

Some great idea's, just going to give it ago. Have you ever tried using different coloured wires. I am a complete novice to the wonderful world of wire. just started so I will try to emulate your wonderful projects.

Thanks! I use all kinds of wire, but I'm not a big fan of colored wire. It's nice for accents, but since the color isn't solid, it can chip or show where your cuts are. That being said, you should have fun and do what you enjoy. For beginners, I recommend copper. It comes in every size and shape you'll need and is easy to work with and inexpensive. Also, you'll probably want to start with the most basic tutorials. Look through them and see what looks good. Let me know how it goes!

wiccanbear made it! (author)2016-02-10

i made one ^_^ great instructable ^_^

Alywolf (author)wiccanbear2016-02-11

That looks awesome,wiccanbear I love the tire swing.

Awesome!! Thanks for sharing so everyone can see!

Alywolf (author)2016-02-10

I have been a wire artist as well for a long time, and I must say that you wrote your tutorial wonderfully. I have made this style before, but I always went top down, I much prefer to sound of going from the roots up into the branches. I will try it soon.

They're fun both ways. Let me know what you think : )

I definitly prefer your method!!

mickbead (author)2016-02-10

Very good instructions. Thank-you for sharing. I really like you bracelet.

Thank You!

my5377 (author)2016-02-10

I love the look of your pieces. I have wanted to learn how to do wire wrapping but I have been afraid to make the leap. Your instructions seem easy to follow so I may be leaping very soon! Thank you for sharing.

Thank You! I hope you give it a try! If you want to begin with trees, you might want to start with my:
https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-Wrapped-Gemstone-Tree/
It's a little more basic. Also, if you sign up at my website, you'll know when I post additional tutorials and where I'll be teaching.
http://www.rhondachasedesign.com/account/register
All that being said, feel free to ask me questions if you get stuck! Good luck & have fun : )

macananadado (author)2016-02-09

WOW! This is such a great design. The look of them is just amazing. I have to try this. Very good job.

Thank You!! Let me know if you try it. PS - Love your apple puzzle!

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2016-02-08

You have so many different designs! They're all great :)

Thanks, Penolopy!!

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Bio: Geeky artist with too many pets. Details & blog at: rhondachasedesign.com
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