It was my girlfriends birthday recently and instead of giving her flowers and chocolate, i thought i'd be a bit more original in my present.
She is into macrame, so i thought it be a nice gesture to make her a bracelet or something in a style i know she likes. But in my googl-search i stumbled across a picture of wire art, more specifically a wire tree (of life), and fell in love with it instantly!
Never having done any kind of jewelry making i challenged myself to give it a try. I really thought i had 'dug my own grave' with this project but as it turned out it wasnt all that difficult!
The gold with green one is the result of about 4 hours of meticulous wire-weaving and stone-fitting and is my first one!
As soon as i showed her (by videocall) she fell in love with it! As soon as she showed a friend of hers, she wanted to 'order' one aswell as she to fell in love with the pendant! Then i showed my mother, she wanted one for a friend who has a simular tree-picture on her buisnesscard! Even my dad was impressed! :o
getting so much positive feedback, and having a couple more to make, i decided to do a 'ible about how i put these together.
To make this project a very personal one, either for yourself or the one you're making this for, consider using gemstones that line up with their Zodiac sign, chinese zodiac sign, chakra, favorite color, problems that they have or attributes that need a little encouragement! Gemstones have been used for thousands of years in relation to fysical and emotional betterment and problem-solving and have a positive working on the human vibration.
There are tons of gems, colors, shapes and sizes to choose from and there is an equal amount of information to be found on internet when searching for it. Not all sites are to be trusted though... so when searching for a appropriate stone, scoure more than a couple of sites and see/ choose one that is represented at all the sites. I asked my local gemstone retailer which site they use and kinda follow in their footsteps! (it's a dutch site, srry non-dutchies!)
Example; my girlfriend is a Virgo and there were at least 3 stones that every site lists; carnelian, lapis lazuli and blue sapphire. I wanted to go with the sapphire, expensive and not very commonly seen I thought i'd be the best choice. But you can't find them in chip-size (2-5mm) and ordering one on the internet would run me a hefty bill. So the next best thing was/ is her favorite color; darkgreen. This offcourse would be a perfect color since were making a tree. i was considering bloodstone (dutch; heliotroop), Mos-agath and Jade but ended up with Ruby in Zoisiet. This is the gold and green one in this 'ible.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- A selection of jewelers pliers; round tip, flat without gripping-grooves and a side-cutting plier
- Nail clippers (I use instead of a side-cutting pliers)
- Lid of a mason jar (about 3cm diameter, for shaping the pendant)
- 16Ga plated copper wire; tarnish resistant
- 28Ga plated copper wire; tarnish resistant
- Chip-sized (2-5mm) gemstones (I used a gemstone-bracelet)
- Suede cord
- Nice velvet storage bag
Step 2: Shaping the Pendant
There’s a lot of shapes to choose from and there is no right one. it all depends on your personal preference.
My examples will be in a round pendant, but you could easily spice it up by doing a leaf-shape, oval, square, etc.
The groove in the lid of the mason jar is just over 4cm. Wrapping the 16Ga wire around it tightly will give me the size of my pendant. Where the overlap I bend outward using 2 pliers. Now I just have to straighten them out and cut them a bit shorter for better handling.
Step 3: Wrapping
I start to wrap around the left side of where the 2 ends of the circle meet. After 2 wraps I cross over the ‘meeting-point’ and start wrapping the 28Ga wire around the 16Ga wire tightly on the right side.
I keep wrapping until I’ve done about one-third of the circle. I cut the wire and tuck it in using flat non-gripping pliers.
Step 4: The Root-system
The second one-third of the circle will be filled up with the roots of the tree, by using 15 (or so) pieces of (about) 25cm 28Ga wire.
Fold the pieces of wire in the middle. One by one I give these wires 2 to 6 wraps around the pendant. Squeeze your wrapping with the flat non-gripping pliers to get a tight wrap.
As you use about 12 to 20 strands to fill up the one-third reserved for the roots, now we’ll twist 2 or 3 strands together covering just a couple cm’s. if you look at the pictures closely, sometimes I skip the wire directly next to it and use the next one over, sometimes I start with twisting 2 wires and add a third after a couple twists. The more random, the better (within reason offcourse!).
The twisting together of the wires is actually done after the rest of the pendant is wrapped and the bail is wrapped aswell.
Step 5: The Bail
When you reach the bail with the wrapping from the pendant the 2 wrap-arounds from the beginning can be removed by cutting the wire crossing the ‘meeting-point’. Remove the loose end and be sure to tuck in the cut end onto the pendant so no sharp edges are poking out!
I do a double wrap-around both pieces of 16Ga wire sticking out, securing the circle again.
As you can see my 16Ga wires are slightly sticking apart from eachother. This gives me the room to wrap the bail in a slightly different wrap. See the added paint-picture for visual explanation (hopefully! hahaha).
(go over both, wrap around botton or right-wire, loop under both, wrap around top or left-wire. And repeat!)
You need about 3cm wrapped for the bail. Give yourself another 8cm of loose wire sticking out for the connection made after the roots, branches and gemstones are finished.
Step 6: The Tree-trunk
When you push in all the wires from the root-system and make them cross in the middle of the pendant you can already see a crude tree forming! I secure all the strands temporary with another wire
It is pretty important you cross all wires in the middle of the pendant. When you do, squeeze everything together with thumb and finger and give the whole bunch at least one full twist.
Start dividing the branches equally over the rest of the pendant.
(if your trunk isn’t perfectly centered, don’t worry! Trees are never symmetrical! But by pulling and twisting the roots a little you can ‘move’ the trunk those millimeters that make a huge difference in appearance!)
Step 7: The Branches
I had way too many branches to stick gemstones to. The branches that were left empty were twisted into the small circles you see throughout the tree, little decorations.
I use 2 wires for weaving my gemstones onto. One of the wires will be wrapped onto the pendant securing the branch in place and the other will be wound into a decoration-end and pressed flat onto the gemstone.
Step 8: Adding the Gemstones
I start adding stones from side to side, working my way up to the top. Usually I start the branch with a very small gemstone, because they will ball up a bit in the middle near the trunk. Pay attention to the holes and the shape of your gemstones, sometimes you need a weird size or a off-center-drilled-hole to fill up gap in the tree!
Just before I add the last 2 branches at the top of the pendant I start dividing the left-over wires throughout the tree. sticking them through the back to the front on places that need a extra gemstone and places that could need a decoration-ending-wire.
I also kept 2 wires at the base of the trunk, at the front, especially for covering the trunk up a bit more.
The decoration-endings are made by wrapping the wire around my mini-round-tip-pliers.
Step 9: Back to the Bail
When the gemstones are all in we can get back to the bail.
We need to fold it in the middle and I simply push my thumb into the middle and push both sides down around my thumb till I have the middle bend. By gently manipulating the wires you can get a nice shape using only your hands. But please don’t hesitate to use pliers if you have to!
If you look at the side pictures you can see the faint bends in the bail for straight hanging.
Now you can do another double wrap over the double wrap that’s on the pendant already. I finish it off by doing a single bail-wrap at the back.
The 2 16Ga wires are cut at about 2 cm and wound onto itself using my mini-round-tip-pliers.
Step 10: Finishing Up
All that’s left is to put a chain, necklace or cord on it. I choose a brown suede cord and I’m leaving it extra long for the misses to cut to her own liking.
With the necklace comes a small card explaining the believed positive attributes of the used gemstone, in this case it is Amethyst.
Since this will probably be an event-piece, meaning only worn on specific occasions, i include a pwetty velvet bag for safekeeping!