This tutorial will show you, in detail, how to create the wire-wrapped Tree of Life Ornament shown in the image above.
The other tutorials I've found online have been very basic and left a lot of unanswered questions. My goal with these instructions is to be very thorough, yet easy to understand.
At the end I will explain the adjustments that are necessary for a pendant instead of an ornament.
Let's get started!
Step 2: Take one strand of the wire and thread it through the wire ring, making sure the 2 sides are even. Wrap each side around the ring twice for a total of four coils. Make sure they are pulled tight around the ring. See image.
Step 1: First, gather all of the supplies you'll need for the project. You'll want to get the following items:
*6mm beads and smaller, including seed beads (see next image)
*A 4-inch metal ring
*Two (2) pairs of needle nose pliers
*A pair of wire cutting pliers
*Twelve (12) 12-inch strands of 24-gauge wire
This photo shows the variety of beads used for this particular
ornament, including the following:
4mm pearls, 4mm glass rectangle beads, 2 sizes of seed beads, 4mm crystals, 6mm & 4mm faceted glass rounds, and 6mm shaped glass beads.
Step 3: Repeat step 2 with the remaining 11 wires. Pull all wires to one side of the ring and verify the coils are nice and tight and close together.
Step 4: Start on one side of the wires and begin braiding the first 3 strands. You'll want to create a braid that is approximately 1-inch. Once braided, flip up and move on to the next 3 strands. Continue this process until all wires have been braided. You should end up with 8 braids.
Step 5: Gather the braids as shown in this photo and begin to twist them together.
Step 6: Twist up a little ways until you're ready to separate your first branch. Take 2-4 strands, depending on how thick you want this branch to be, and separate it from the group of wires.
Step 7: Repeat Step 6 until you have the beginnings of a tree with many branches and all of your wires have been used. Personally, I like to split my tree in two at some point and then separate the branches again.
Step 8: Now twist these branches, just like you did the big group of wires, but don't twist them to the ring...yet. You'll want to also start breaking your larger branches into smaller ones. See the picture for ideas on how to break down branches. This is when you'll need to twist the branches to within about 1/4"-1/2" from the ring.
Step 9: Separate the individual wires and make sure they are some-what distributed evenly around the ring. NOTE: If you've twisted the wires too far, do not un-twist them! They will probably break later on! Instead put bends in the branches; this use more wire and pull them towards the center of the ring. (see the final image to see how I did this.)
Step 10: Add a bead or beads to the first wire next to the roots. Wrap the wire around the ring once (see image).
Step 11: Add another bead to this wire. Wrap again and add another bead. This is to cover the ring from view and make it appear to just be beads. Finish this branch by wrapping it around the ring 3 times, clip off the excess, and pinch tight with pliers.
Step 12: Repeat Step 11 for the remaining wires on this branch. Push the finished section tight against the roots. This will make room for the rest of your branches.
Step 13: Repeat steps 11 and 12 on the other side of the roots. Continue repeating these two steps, changing sides after each branch.
Step 14: Continue this process for the rest of your branches and remember to push them tight against the roots. The last couple branches will be the most difficult because you'll be running out of room on your ring, but this is good because you'll have a nice full tree.
1. Pendant Size Tree: If you need to make a smaller Tree of Life for a pendant or even a tiny one for earrings, you'll simply want to use a smaller ring and also decrease the number of wires used. Just remember, you'll always want to have a multiple of three (3, 6, 9...) because you'll be braiding the roots of the tree.
2. Adding charms: If you'd like to add charms to your tree, just add them while your twisting the branches or before you add beads to the branch, depending on where you want the charm to hang.
3. Fuller Trees: If you prefer the fuller looking trees, don't twist the branches as close to the edge as I did here. You're beads will then thread closer to the center of the tree and it will appear fuller. The style in this tutorial is just a personal preference of appearance.
EDIT (Dec. 6, 2011)
Where can I get the 4-inch metal rings?
I know Hobby Lobby carries them and possibly JoAnn's. You'll need to look in the leather crafts department, not the jewelry section!! The rings are actually sold for making dream-catchers and you can find them in a wide range of sizes. I haven't had luck finding more silver ones, but I can always find gold-tone rings.
New Tree of Life Ornament Pictures!!
I made these two ornaments for a friend yesterday and wanted to point out the difference between the one in the tutorial and these two. I've really started to add more character and detail to the branches. You'll also be able to notice that I've filled out the tree a bit more to really cover the ring. I really like these recent changes and I hope you'll consider incorporating them into your ornaments too!!