Wire Tree of Life (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

The wire tree of life is a popular motif in jewelry.

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

One of the addictive things about creating these is that there are so many ways to arrange and decorate your tree’s roots, trunk, and branches.

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

But beware – these trees have a mind of their own, and they may grow their own wonderful design regardless of what you were planning! 🙂

Supplies:

  • Round soft wire, 16 or 18 gauge – for the frame.
    I used 16 gauge soft copper wire.
  • Round soft 24 gauge wire – for the tree.
    I used 24 gauge Artistic wire in Antique Brass color.
  • Beads – for the tree’s leaves.
    For this size of tree, you can use any size of beads up to about 4mm.
    I used size 10/0 seed beads in Green color.
  • Wire cutter.
  • Round nose pliers.
  • Chain nose pliers.
  • Flat nose pliers.
  • Cylindrical object about 32mm (1.25″) in diameter – to use as a mandrel for shaping the frame.
    I used the top of a shampoo bottle.
  • Jewelry file or emery board – to smooth off cut wire ends.

How to Make a
Wire Tree of Life

1.) Make the Frame for a Wire Tree of Life:

Working with your 16 or 18 gauge wire right from the roll, wrap your wire tightly around your mandrel (I’m using a shampoo bottle lid), leaving a straight wire tail about 127mm (1.5″) long:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Cut the wire so that the second wire end is also about 127mm (1.5″) long.

Slide your wire off the mandrel.

Using the tips of your flat nose pliers, grasp one wire end right where the wires cross:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Now use your pliers to bend the wire end straight up, at a 90-degree angle:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Now we’ll make a wrapped wire loop, which will be the bail of the frame.

If you’re new to making wrapped wire loops, or if you struggle with making them, hop over to my quick Make a Wrapped Wire Loop (Video Tutorial) – and then come back here. 🙂

Use the middle of your round nose pliers to grasp the base of the vertical wire.

Bend the wire away from the wire circle:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Make a loop by wrapping the wire around one jaw of your round nose pliers, leaving a wire tail that you’ll use to wrap below the loop:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Using your chain nose pliers, grasp the end of the wire tail.

Then wrap the tail neatly around the short wire stem below the loop.

Use your wire cutter to trim off any excess wire tail, and use your chain nose pliers to press the wire tail tightly against the wire stem:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Use your chain nose pliers to grasp the remaining wire end.

Wrap the remaining wire end neatly around the wire-wraps you just made below the loop:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

Use your wire cutter to trim off any excess wire tail, and use your chain nose pliers to press the wire tail tightly against the wire stem:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire frame

The frame for your wire tree of life is finished.

2.) Make the Wire Tree of Life:

We’ll start by cutting your 24 gauge wire.

Cut 5 pieces, each about 152mm (6″) long:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

On each piece of wire, use the tips of your round nose pliers to grasp the midpoint of the wire.

Use your fingers to bend the wire ends straight downward, making a long narrow horseshoe shape:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Your five wires should look like this:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Now we’ll attach the first wire to the frame we made previously.

Slide the wire onto the bottom of the frame:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Now wrap one end of your wire tightly around the frame.

You’ll probably need to curve the wire so you can pass it through the frame without kinking your wire:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

After one wrap, your wire should look something like this:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Keep wrapping the same wire end tightly around the frame 3 or 4 times:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Then attach the remaining wires, one by one, to the bottom of the frame, in the same way you attached the first wire:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Now we’ll start making the tree’s roots.

Swing the middle wire upward across the frame:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Still working with the middle wire, cross the two wire ends tightly, just above where this wire is wrapped around the frame:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Use your fingers to twist the two wires tightly together 2 or 3 times, right above where you crossed the wire ends.

These wire twists will become one of the roots of your tree.

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Then use your fingers to straighten the two wire ends above your twists, and point them upward toward the bail loop:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Now move to one of the wires that’s next to the center wire.

Follow the same procedure you just did on the center wire – swing the wire ends upward across the frame, cross the wires tightly above the wire wraps, twist the wires tightly together about 4 or 5 times to create the second root, and straighten the wires above the twists.

Now bend the straightened wires, so that they lie across the center wires:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Just above the roots, use your fingers to bend the second pair of wires straight up on top of the first pair of wires, pointing up toward the frame’s bail:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Follow the same procedure with the remaining three sets of wires.

You may need to add some extra wire twists for the roots on the outer wires, so that the root twisting will reach all the way to the base of the tree.

Now all of the tree trunk wires are rising above the roots:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

To create the tree trunk, we’ll tightly twist the entire bundle of wires together.

The trunk twists should end anywhere from halfway to two-thirds of the way up the frame, so you’ll still have space to style your tree branches.

You can use your fingers or your flat nose pliers for the twisting.

I find it easier to do with my fingers.

Either way, start by lifting the tree trunk wires up off of the frame, so you’ll have space to twist them.

With one hand, grasp the tree roots you just created.

With the other hand, tightly grasp the tree trunk wires just above the roots, using your fingers or flat nose pliers.

Twist the entire bundle of trunk wires tightly a few times:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Your tree trunk may look something like this:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

You can keep your tree trunk straight, or you can put a bend in it.

If you want a bend, use your round nose pliers to add a curve to the trunk wires:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Now we’ll lay the tree back down across the frame.

It’s time to create your tree branches.

Separate the remaining un-twisted wire ends into 5 pairs of wires:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Starting next to the tree trunk, tightly twist each pair of wires to create a tree branch.

Use round nose pliers to bend the twisted branches however you like.

At the end of each twisted branch, you should have two wires that haven’t been twisted yet.

These will become the smaller one-wire branches:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

On these smaller branches you can add beads to represent leaves, flowers, fruit – or just for decoration.

You can use any size of beads.

For this tree of life frame size, you may want to use beads that are 4mm size or smaller.

The tree I created here is an early Spring tree that’s just starting to leaf out, so I used tiny green 10/0 seed beads:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Whether you use beads or not, when you finish bending and styling each of your small one-wire branches, wrap its wire end tightly around the frame 4 or 5 times:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

Then trim off the excess wire end and use chain nose pliers to press the cut wire end tightly against the frame.

And for the final step, you can use your round nose pliers to bend the tree roots to give them a bit more character if you like:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shaping the wire tree

With this basic Wire Tree of Life tutorial, there are endless ways to design and decorate your own tree!

More views of my tree:

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Wire Tree of Life Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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Comments

  1. Thank you Rena,

    I have always admired these pendants, but they seemed almost impossible to make due to their intricacies. You have now transformed a seemingly impossible job into a realistic project. Can’t wait to try making this beautiful pendant, which apart from being a great seasonal gift, is an evergreen too. So many possibilities for this element in many types of jewelry! Keep up these marvels coming, please. You are a never ending source of inspiration and valuable experience.

  2. Rumy, thank you so much for your lovely comment! 🙂

  3. Jewelry by Joan says:

    I love the idea of trees of life. I’ve made custom order pendants where I’ve used birthstones for various family members. Sometimes, depending on the size of the family, I’ve represented 3 generations, grandparents birthstones in the roots, children and grandchildren in the branches. Makes a lovely Mother’s Day gift.

  4. Debbie K says:

    Thanks so much. I have seen other tutorials on this design, but none as easy to complete as yours. Awesome.

  5. Lynda C. says:

    Wow! Nicely done tutorial on a complex looking project! I’m sure lots of readers will be inspired to try this pendant. Really like the ability to use up all those leftover seed beads, too.

  6. Thanks so much, Debbie K and Lynda C! I appreciate your lovely feedback!

  7. These have been on my things to learn list for a while. Naturally, with your tutorial, they’ve jumped to the top of the list! And just in time for spring, too. Thanks again, Rena.

  8. Mary Anne Enriquez says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Rena! I have wanted to make these for years, but never found such an understandable tutorial such as this one. I can even see these on a larger scale with transparent glass leaves, with thicker wire, and larger beads to use as pretty decorations in windows. Beautiful. ALways enjoy the Jewelry Making Journal.

  9. Very good “How To” description! Love this journal.

  10. Thank you, Irith! I appreciate that very much! 🙂

  11. Sweet! I love the tree of life! Great job!

  12. Thanks, Erinn! 🙂

  13. This is brilliant!!! Its so pretty but doesn’t look too difficult thanks for the tutorial!

  14. Becky, you’re very welcome. Have fun! 🙂

  15. Rena,
    I make a version or two of the tree of life pendant but have always started at the top of the tree and worked down to the roots. I may have to try it this way and see what comes out. It looks so much easier than my way but then again it also looks different too. Thanks for posting the tutorial.

  16. Diane, I’d love to see your versions of the tree of life! I’ve always started with the roots, and would be interested to see how your branches-first trees turn out! 🙂

  17. Linda Lohraff says:

    You just made something that looked difficult, understandable. Thank you!
    I have wanted to make the tree of life for a long time, now I know that I can do it!

  18. That’s wonderful to hear, Linda! I think you’ll love creating and designing your trees. 🙂

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