Introduction: Aluminum Wire Tree
This instructable will guide you through making a tree out of twisted wires. This project requires minimal tools, is cheap, and is simple in execution. The product you see here was my first ever attempt and is something that anybody can make. The following will outline my approach and lessons learned.
- 20 gauge wire 375 ft.
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Diagonal Pliers (or any other wire cutter)
- Tape Measure
- Masking Tape
- Optional: Pot or other stand/mounting materials
Step 1: Gather Materials and Make a Design
Gather the necessary materials and start brainstorming design concepts. I recommend looking up pictures of bonsai trees, which have a really interesting aesthetic that translates well to the wire.
The desired shape will dictate the lengths of the pieces of wire needed. If you want branches that are the same length or that are longer on the top of the tree you will need multiple lengths of wire as higher in the tree there is more wire dedicated to forming the trunk and less available for branches and leaves. I went with a design that tapers towards the top, which can be achieved with uniform lengths of wires.
The tree seen here is made up of two hundred 22” lengths of 20 gauge aluminum craft wire. The final product dimensions are 13” tall (not including base) and 8” wide at the widest point. Once you've decided on the wire lengths use a measuring tape and cut the wire to length.
Step 2: Create the Trunk and Branch Preform
Collect the wire together, even the ends and tape the bundle of wires together as tightly as possible using the masking tape. I secured the tape ~ ⅕ of the way up from the bottom and used it as a reference point where the roots will start. Begin twisting the wire together from the masking tape slowly moving upward until you get to where you want the first branch to be. Separate the number of wires you want to include in the branch and twist the wire to lock in the shape
Continue splitting and twisting the wires until you have the desired general shape of the branches. I continued until there were 2-4 wires in the smallest branches and left anywhere from 4”-7” of untwisted wire at the branch tips to be shaped into the leaves.
This is the preform with the rough shapes outlined. The specific shaping and detailing will happen later and the design is still largely flexible at this point. You can create the preform in sections to keep as many wires out of the way as possible while you’re working.
During this process, I found it helpful to shape the roots into a platform to keep the tree upright while working on it.
Step 3: Making the Leaves
There are multiple strategies for making leaves. I went with round leaves but if you prefer a different design I recommend referencing a similar project by Awesome Crafts who approaches the leaf making process with a different strategy. https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-Bonsai-Tree/
To make the leaves grasp the end of the wire using the tip of the needle-nose pliers and rotate the pliers to make a small circle. Continue doing the same motion down the length of the wire adding each circle next to each other. This will create a flat circle made up of smaller circles, which altogether will create the representation of leaves. This is a tedious process but will start to go faster as you get a feel for it.
Step 4: Final Shaping and Mounting the Base
Once all of the branches and leaves have been made you can form them to their final shape. Shape the branches and twist and bend each cluster of leaves to give them more body. Remember to shape the tree in all dimensions
I happened to have a bonsai tree pot that I used to secure the tree. I used to hot glue to fasten the tree to the pot and filled the base with small pebbles. Alternative mounting options could include wrapping the roots around a rock or block of wood or using the roots by themselves to support the tree.
Step 5: Final Thoughts
The wire is very forgiving to work with and can be re-shaped multiple times. That being said aluminum will work harden and become brittle and prone to breaking if it is excessively manipulated. The same goes for copper and brass, other material alternatives that could be used.
The total time it took to create this project was ~6 hours working at a leisurely pace and the vast majority of that was spent making the leaves.
I really enjoyed this project and I hope you do too!
Participated in the