A wire gem tree makes a great gift. It's a handmade object that requires a lot of patience and work to create, which will make its intended recipient feel special. It's also extremely cost-effective to put together a gem tree, which will save you cash come the holidays. Using fine-gauge wire and gemstone beads, you can fashion a miniature work of art that'll rival the contents of the most esteemed arboretum.
Things You'll Need:
- Measuring Tape
- Base For Tree (A Large, Flat Stone, Rock Or Dish)
- Mini Clamps
- 527 Craft Glue
- 24-Gauge Wire (Silver, Gold, Copper, Steel, Or Color-Coated)
- Gemstone Beads
- Wire Cutters
- Round-Nose Jewelry Pliers
Cut a three-foot length of your 24-gauge wire.
If you're going to thread beads onto your wire rather than gluing them on, do so now. After you've threaded one large bead or several small beads onto your wire (think of this bead or beads as your leaf or leaves), fold the wire in half just after the beads, so it forms a hairpin-type shape.
Twist the two dangling wire "legs" around one another five or six half-twists, keeping the twists close to the "leaf" at the top. After you've made the last twist, separate the "legs" slightly. You can also twist the wire by holding the two wires in one hand, and the bead in the other, and twisting the bead, which will twist the wire tightly. Your twisted length of wire should be about a quarter of an inch long.
Take the longer "leg" of your two wires and thread a bead onto it about half an inch away from the end of the twisted section. Now repeat step 3, stopping when your new twisted section is as long as your first twisted section, which will be when the two sections meet in the middle.
Take the longer "leg" of the two wires and thread another bead onto it, about half an inch away from the end of your now two-pronged twisted section. Twist until your new twisted section meets the others in the middle. You should now have a three-pronged branch. For a small gem tree, you'll need to make about 15 of these branches.
Assembling the Tree
Once you've made your 15 branches, divide them into groups of three. Put the three branches together, arranging them so that the branches all have their own spaces and aren't pushing up against one another. Splay the "legs" of each branch out. Start twisting them together by holding all the beads in one hand and using that hand to twist, while holding the branches still with the other hand.
Twist each group of three branches about 10 half-twists. Now you have a tree limb.
Connect limbs together two at a time, holding the beaded ends in one hand and using them to twist the trunk 5 to 10 half-twists, which you'll hold still with the other hand.
Connect your two two-limb sections in the same way as you did in step 3. You'll only be able to twist them a few times--try for three to five half-twists.
Connect your last one-limb section to the tree by twisting. Go for at least 10 half-twists; the more twists you make, the longer your trunk will be.
Roots and Gluing
Separate out the "legs" of wire underneath your trunk. Group them into three or four bunches and twist them together to make roots.
Spread out your roots and put your tree down onto its rock or dish base, making sure it's snug and stable. Now lift it back up and apply glue to the roots. Press the roots onto the base. You can use mini clamps or rubberbands to hold the roots in place as the glue dries.
Let the roots dry for at least two hours.
After drying, remove clamps or rubberbands. Take off excess glue with nail polish remover.
Spread out your branches and limbs the way you like them. You now have a handmade wire gem tree.
Kate Wharmby Seldman is a writer, ghostwriter and editor. She writes about subjects including electronic music, jewelry making, baby and child care, and ecologically friendly building construction. Originally from London, England, she now lives in Los Angeles, Calif., with her husband and son.