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Wire Tree of Life

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wire-tree-of-life

Wire Tree of Life Suncatcher

I'd seen a number of large suncatchers online and thought they looked manageable, so although this project didn't start with a video, I jumped in to work on stash busting and using up some beads, because Lord knows I have far, far too many beads.


I chose larger semi transparent gem chips and 8mm rounds with some sparkle, as well as some small crystals. If it looked like it would glitter in the sun, it got tossed in, and since I'm basically a magpie, there was a lot to toss.

3 Piece Wreath Ring Set

The Universe Sends an Assistant.

Just as I was starting the project, a tiny feral kitten wandered into my yard and with complete confidence announced he lives here now, making himself at home and supervising my progress.

This photo was within an hour of his arrival, before I'd even had a chance to bathe him and he was quickly pulled away before he could poke himself and do damage, but clearly he had opinions.

My first attempt was using a 7.8 inch ring with 24 gauge wire and here the kitten is pointing out he had some concerns about sizing. After some experimentation, he was proven correct- I soon moved up to the middle size of 9.8 of the package of three with an 18 gauge wire.

wire-tree-of-life

Start to Wrap the Wire

Beginning with the roots, start laying the wire across the frame, making sure to leave about 30% in excess length to allow for the twisting and wrapping of the wire as you shape it.

There are two ways to attach the wire to the bottom to form the roots. For the thinner wire, just folding the wire over the frame like a slip knot works fine, but for the thicker wire, it bunches and leaves gaps. I ended up snipping the middle of the wire and individually wrapping each side to the frame.

Adjustments to the Layout

Attempting to create a full system of roots would've left not enough room for as many beads as I wanted, so after several tries, I went with a pretty straightforward root and trunk system. Although I love the versions with elaborate formations, this was meant to be a sun catcher, so maximum sun catching beads were the priority.

The thicker wire worked well, and was able to handle being unwrapped and rewrapped as different styles were examined

Finding a Bead vs Wire Balance

More photos should have been taken of the progress but between trying to manage the kitten and rework everything multiple times, it just didn't happen. Still, the process of doing the work isn't complicated- the finding of a shape you like is.

The thinner wire I'd started with would have been fine for smaller beads- 11/0 seed beads, for example- and might have made something very fine and complex, but it wouldn't have supported the gem chips very well, and the proportions were all wrong.

Thicker wire allowed a better balance, and the larger frame had room for more than a dozen beads per branch. The lengths of wire were separated into three bunches, one for each bead color, with one or two branches overlapping colors between each.

Two Colors Down, One to Go.

The blue and green are wrapped here, with the soon to be purple branches bent up and out of the way until their turn.

The blue and green are wrapped here, with the soon to be purple branches bent up and out of the way until their turn.

And Now a Moon...

Once it was done and I was going to attach the hanger, I noticed that I'd set aside a bunch of yellow and gold beads and never used them.

At the same time, I was realizing I was going to have to spend some time really being careful with all of those sharp wire ends. Handling them was a tricky business, and my hands looked like pincushions.

The idea of using the largest ring in the package as a sort of satellite occurred and looked like a clean solution. After all, I had all those yellow beads to use up...


Post Project Wrap up

As with so many 'stash buster' projects, it turned out that I didn't have nearly enough stash at hand, particularly those yellow beads, and a total of 3 additional Toho tubes were purchased. Even so, I may break it down and add another tube or two to tighten up the sun's rays, particularly in the widest area. Still, hubby claimed it and it's hanging in his office window to bring a little cheer, so...mission accomplished?


As for the kitten, he settled in nicely, earning the name Whiskey, due to his Whiskers, a twisting I don't entire get, but that's okay. The name was hubby's choice - mine was Andy Rooney, for the same reason, so the poor guy was pretty doomed no matter what!

Tree and Moon

wire-tree-of-life

This is Part of an Ongoing Series About Finding Ways to Actually Use These Craft Supplies:

Showing Off the Reason for the Name

Slightly blurry, like all pics of him because he's always in motion...it's Whiskey!

Slightly blurry, like all pics of him because he's always in motion...it's Whiskey!

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