Crystal Wire Tree Sculpture Purple and Silver
Blog,  Educational

How to make a wire bead tree – tutorial by Metal Bonsai

Check out these step by step instructions on how to make your own bead tree! Create your own handmade tree art in the comfort of your own home. Sit down with a nice cuppa and follow the steps in the wire bead tree tutorial to make something truly unique and beautiful.

Introduction

To make this wire crystal tree sculpture I visualised the tree I wanted to make before starting the assembly. You can get a piece of paper and draw a rough sketch of the wire bead tree you have in mind. You need to know how many branches your design requires so you can purchase the right amount of wire and beads for the project. See the table below.

In this tutorial I will go step by step through the process I used to make the lilac bead tree in the pictures. 

Stats:

  • 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

Crystal Wire Tree Sculpture Purple and Silver

 

Gather your Materials 

To complete this beginners wire bead tree tutorial you will need to collect together the necessary tools. This includes:

General Tools

  • A strong metal ruler
  • Goggles (so you don’t fire wire into your eye when trimming… )
  • Speaking of that – strong metal cutters that are comfortable to use 
  • Basing pot or material
  • Glue – to attach your lovely bead tree to your base

Crystal beads

These need to have a hole through the beads for inserting your wire. I would recommend getting some 8mm beads like these.

It’s really important to purchase the correct number of beads upfront. I would recommend buying more beads than you need. They do have the magical ability of disappearing at will… there will be escapees! Needing to buy more beads mid-tree is a recipe for disaster. It’s sods law the colour and type you need will sell out the second you need more. 

You need 27 beads per tree branch if you follow my method. I recommend about 15 to 20 branches for a medium sized wire tree. So you’ll need between 405 and 540 beads for a medium wire bead tree. Round this number up to 600 and you should be good. See the table below for how many strands of wire and beads you will roughly need depending on how many branches your tree contains. The tree I made used 700 beads. 

Wire  

I have written a few specific posts on wire for making wire tree sculptures. You can read these here and here. For this project I would recommend using something like this

How many beads and wire strands to prepare

This table sets out how many beads and how much wire you will need based on the branches in your tree design.

Some tree basics 

In the step by step tutorial I am going to use a little bit of tree structure basics and assume you are happy with terms such as: twig, branch, bough and trunk. Have a quick look at the following picture just so you know what I’m running on about.

Wire Bead Tree Tutorial – Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 

Sort out your beads and wire first. I use around 22cm for each strand, this doesn’t have to be exact. Make a few slightly longer and a few slightly shorter for a natural look. Measure out the wire before you start and place the beads in a bowl so they don’t get lost everywhere! Cut the required number of wire strands before you start making the bead tree.

Purple crystal bead and silver wire on hand

Step 2

The aim here is to thread the beads on to the wire and create a leaf pattern. There are a wide range of patterns you can choose, my method is based on batches of 3. 

Take a bead and a single strand of wire. Thread the wire through the bead with a bit poking out of the end; around 2cm but less if you can manage it. Bend the piece of wire which is poking out back over the bead and hold it to the wire on the other side. So you’ve effectively got your bead in a loop of wire. Pinch the base of the wire loop you’ve just made. Then, using your free hand pinch the bead and twist it around so that the wire twists together and secures the bead on to the wire strand. 

Repeat this process two more times so you now have three strands of wire, each with a bead on the end.  Now take these three strands, bunch them together and pinch a few centermiters below the beads. Twist the wire together below where you are pinching it. Leave the last section of wire untwisted – this will form your roots.

Once the wire strands are twisted together separate out the beads to form a leaf. You have just made your self a wire twig with bead leaves. Repeat these steps three more times so you have three twigs (which will support have 9 bead leaves).

Take your three twigs and twist them together to form a branch. I usually twist two together first then add the third one on a little lower down to make a natural branching structure. Don’t forget to leave the untwisted wire at the end to form the roots!

Wire bead tree branching example

Step 3

Once you have your branches it’s time to group them into bigger branches that connect to the trunk, on a tree these are called boughs. To make your boughs twist together branches in batches of three. If you’ve gone for a number of branches that is not a multiple of three then make your final bough from 2 or 4 branches. 

Wire Tree sculpture branching example

Step 4

Once you have all your boughs created it’s time to form the tree trunk. This takes some strength and I would recommend spending some time looking at pictures of trees and their branching structures (on the internet or in books) to know how they branch out. Twist the boughs together to form your tree. Once you have it assembled squeeze all the branches together like in the picture below to make the next step easier

Cluster of purple beads for wire tree sculpture

Break time – go and make yourself a hot drink and rest your hands before starting in the roots!
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.

Silver Wire Sculpture Roots

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.

Purple Wire beads on silver wire

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 wire 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 wire tree looks it’s best.

Crystal Wire Tree Sculpture Purple and Silver

The final bead tree in all it’s glory! It turned out exactly how I expected and am very happy with the result.

 

Concluding Remarks

So there you have it, this is the process of how I make a wire bead tree sculpture. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you have a photo of your own finished wire tree I would love to see it! Pop up a picture in the comments for the world to see or tag me on social media

If you found this wire bead tree tutorial useful please consider showing your support by gifting me a coffee; I would really appreciate it.

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Wire Bead Tree Tutorial – Educational Video

Now you’ve mastered the art of crytal tree creation using my wire bead tree tutorial check out a deciduous tree tutorial here.

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