Not only am I able to offer beautiful wedding cake toppers but the following years of marriage are just as important and why not consider getting a crystal bead tree in the stone colour of that year for a special couple? With so many different stones available from Gold, Silver, Emerald to Ruby, I can make a tree to suit most budgets and match the colour of that year. We would work together to decide exactly what the tree would look like and ensure a prompt service and delivery in time for the special occasion.
So today I thought it would be worth discussing the types of wire I use to make my tree sculptures and why I use what I use. Before getting into the details it is worth noting that this is how I make my trees and there are many talented artists out there who use different thicknesses, material and have their own techniques.
The main types of wire that used to make wire trees are as follows:
Aluminium wire is typically used in welding and is a great source of wire as it is reasonably priced; however, these spools are also quite dirty and require cleaning before use otherwise you end up with a dull looking tree which leaves residue when handled. The welding wire also can be quite brittle and after 2 or 3 bends can break, although some brands can be better than others. You can also get armature wire, for making clay sculptures, which is a softer material which does not break as easily.
Copper wire comes in 2 variants, bare and anodized. Bare copper wire is just pure copper and is subject to oxidising, this is a process where it changes from being copper orange colour to changing through to blue and green colourations. Consider this, the Statue of Liberty is made of copper but is the blue green colour we automatically think of. Bare copper wire, when used and oxidised naturally can look like the image below but can also be oxidised artificially by adding a patina using liver of sulphur. Heat can also be used to create a colourful patina on copper also.
Anodised copper coated wire is copper wire covered with a layer of aluminium which is electro-coated onto the wire, and can be coloured as well. I tend to prefer using anodised wire because the tree does not change from it’s original colour and the customer gets exactly what they pay for. With the choice of many different colours it allows for a freer artistic expression, although there is always something timeless about a aluminium tree as discussed above.
Galvanised steel seems to be the choice of wire for some, however I learned very early on it is a nightmare to work with and quite dangerous. A shape piece of steel will likely go though your hand before bending, unlike copper or aluminium.
There are a variety of gauges or wire thickness, and the size of the tree is somewhat determined by the wires thickness. A popular choice among other wire tree artists is to use 0.6mm thick and 1mm thick wire. At 1mm thick, it does not take long before you will be unable to twist the wire by hand and you would have to start using tools such as wrenches. Some artists have developed their own tools and jigs to hold the wire, with the originator (as far as I am aware) being Kevin Iris. His style allows for large trees to be made without the risk of damaging a hand in the process. I damaged my hand making a large tree and now a tendon in my left hand clicks every time I clench a fist. It wasn’t worth it!
I personally use thinner wires for my sculptures and the majority are made using less than o.5mm wide anodised copper wire. This allows me to twist the tree manually and gives me the opportunity to make nice plump clumps of foliage using my unique 3D foliage style. The typical size of my trees range from 100mm to 150mm tall and fit correctly into mame bonsai pots. Larger trees I make tend to use thicker wire, 0.6mm silver coated copper wire being my preference currently and these trees tend to be around 250mm tall.
It is also worth noting there are artists out there who make micro trees, tiny trees that sit on a finger tip, naturally these artists use exceptionally thin wire.
So with all this wire these trees must be heavy right? Well aluminium is exceptionally light, almost surprisingly light when you pick up a larger tree. Copper on the other hand is heavier and once you have a 400m of wire it can feel pretty heavy.
As mentioned above, aluminium wire can be strong but brittle however copper is relatively soft and malleable. The problem arises when you have a tree that is either so large or has crystal beads where the branches struggle to support the weight. I find with thin wire and making tree that have over 800 glass beads, they struggle to stand and when they move they sway. I have also seen other artists who create 1m tall trees in aluminium and they have noted that they are concerned about the branches sagging over time.
So now you know what wires I use and why, I would love to hear from other artist about their preferred wire types and how they use theirs!
We are proud to announce a brand new product range from Metal Bonsai Studio, wedding cake toppers.
The concept is each colour represents a person in the relationship, with their separate roots each coming from their own unique experiences and life. As the roots meet they start entwining with each other, separate at first but as we move up the trunk they been together seamlessly before becoming branches. The final part is the foliage where the two are mixed together randomly which completed the tree of their relationship and love.
Each tree is carefully made to follow this concept, of which as a happily married man feel encapsulates what love is. The trees are mounted on clear acrylic bases which allow them to blend into the cake seamlessly and after the big event, they can be cleaned off and placed in your home to remind you of the day.
Naturally these trees can be made to match the colour scheme of any wedding, permitting I can get the right wire. If you are interested, then send me a message and we can start planning your cake topper.
One of the most common questions I get from customers and other interested parties is how long does it take to make a wire tree sculpture. This really depends on what style of tree I am making and what size, below I will try and break it down and give some examples of size and time.
Style 1- My traditional style comprises of making a wire tree with either no foliage, like deciduous tree over winter or with my 3d foliage pattern.
Obviously there are different sizes of tree from 2-3″ (50-80mm) which are a relatively small tree all the way up to currently 8-10″ (210-250mm). Beyond this size, different techniques need to be employed and also larger wire. I typically use a 0.3mm thick wire to allow for more texture to the tree and foliage.
With regard to times, below are a few examples of size and time.
Small without foliage- 5hrs
Small with foliage- 7hrs
Medium without foliage- 9hrs
Medium with foliage- 10 to 14hrs
Large without foliage- Unknown as I haven’t made that large a tree without foliage.
Large with foliage- 12 to 18 hrs
Style 2- Crystal or bead wire trees utilise beads between 3 and 8mm in diameter and between 3 and 1000 beads per tree.
Regarding the time these take this is more complicated as there are a variety of leaf patterns and some take a lot longer but as a general rule of thumb, below is a rough example of times.
Small bead tree- 10 to 15 hrs
Large bead tree- 20 to 40 hours! (yes you read that right!)
A note on the large trees, there are anywhere up to 1000 beads and these need threading onto each piece of wire, which can be up to 400 pieces. This is very fiddly work which really eats up the hours.
Obviously these times and sizes are based on my current situation and I am sure in future I will be making bigger trees with more branches and many thousands of crystal beads.
If you have any questions, please do feel free to contact me.
To make this wire crystal tree sculpture I went through the process of visualising the tree before even starting the assembly. In the post I will briefly go though the process of how it was made, but first the stats of the tree.
Height- 260mm/ 10″ tall
Wire- Silver coated copper wire, 0.315mm diameter. Approximately 190 meters of wire used.
Lilac Beads- 700 beads, 8mm diameter.
Base- Real driftwood
Step 1- Get together the beads and wire. I use around 70cm for each strand and 3 beads per strand. Measure out the wire before you start and place the beads in a bowl so they don’t get lost everywhere!
Step 2- Thread the beads on to the wire making a leaf type pattern. There are a wide range of patterns you can choose, this tree was made with beads in batches of 3 and then three branches added together to make a cluster of three, so 27 beads in each cluster.
Step 3- Once you have your clusters it’s time to make some bigger branches, this is done by taking clusters and adding them together again. As you can see in batches of 3 again.
Step 4- Once you have made all your branches, you should have around 15 to 20 branches depending on how you decided on the tree design, these then need to be twisted together again and to slowly form the tree shape. Take some time looking at pictures of trees and their branching structures on the internet or in books to know how they branches out. Once you have it assembled I like to squeeze all the branches together like in the picture below to make the next step easier
Step 5- Twisting the roots is a time consuming process and is hard to explain. Basically you are taking all the wires from the bottom of the tree and dividing them into batches. I tend to shoot for around 8 initial batches and then sub divide them down in half over and over again until I get to the thinness of root I desire. There are other ways to making roots that look more natural, again research on how roots spread will assist in getting the right look. Roots are rarely straight so now in the time to make them more informal.
Step 6- Once you have your roots made you can then go ahead and start fanning out your branches to compose the tree. I initially just spread them out and try to get the tree balanced compositionally.
Step 7- Mount your tree onto the base you have chosen, the tree I made here is glued to the base for stability.
Step 8- Now I do a final styling on the tree, this means tweaking the branches so they are not straight, adding any informal look I want to the trunk, adjusting the leaf clusters so they look natural and make sure the tree looks it’s best.
The final tree in all it’s glory! It turned out exactly how I expected and am very happy with the result.
This crystal wire tree sculpture uses around 800 beads of various green colours and has 160 wires in the tree itself. This one took quite a long time to make, as 5 beads per wire is time consuming. The beads are glass and are faceted but also slightly rounded which made using them easier! I wanted to have natural looking roots and they sit on the driftwood base nicely. I am really happy with how it turned out. This will be listed on the website at some point but if you are interested, please contact me.
This wire tree is made with 4 colours of wire, silver, rose gold, dark purple and grape purple and the wire is 0.315mm thick. There is a dramatic twist in the trunk showing off the different coloured wires and styled as a informal upright this wire tree sits in a white rectangular Walsall studio ceramics container and has a moss effect on the base. You can see there are some exposed roots to complete the sculpture.
I find myself wondering why I don’t just “crank out” a load of wire tree sculptures and make money doing it, today I learned why.
Another talented wire tree artist has run a kickstarter campaign and within this he offered 30 low level trees for x amount of £, amount many other higher offerings. Everyone looked identical and at this point I must admit I was quite jealous. He exceeded his campaign and I am very happy for him.
This brought me to a question, can I make clone trees, can I make two identitcal trees? No, the answer is no! Even when I am producuing identical 2 trees they end up different, and I am not 100% why.
To clarify this was a twist for twist production line style creation of the two trees, I started as always with a batch of wire which I spun into a nice and simple root cluster. From there I created the trunks and stared splitting off the branches. Now even with a ruler it is impossible to make the splits the same and so the differences would eventually emerge. Once at the top of the tree I would then work back down making the foliage clumps.
There are a few factors at play here with regard to why I cannot make them the same, one of which is I use far significantly thinner wire than our example artist. My style seems to be the opposite to other wire tree artist, as is the way I do it (as above) and my foliage style (which is original as far as I am aware?!) The other may be my subconscious knowing that every tree in nature is unique, and even the same species will grow differently every time. Uniqueness.
I even intended our example to be identical, so where does that leave me? Well I am happy creating one of a kind wire tree sculptures and that is all that matters. I don’t feel the need to pursue a crowd funding campaign, and our example artist may have £25+k in the bank I am sure the creativity will slowly drain from the artist. I may be wrong but it is simply something that won’t work for me. This is not to say I don’t wish I could achieve that style of promotion myself but with the variety of the wire trees I create I couldnt produce as such a realiable result.
Anyway, below is a picture of my two “clones”, bad arnt they! Enjoy!