Handmade holiday cheer starts here!
Several years ago my dad gave me a roll of aluminum wire so I could make hooks for hanging my bird feeders. But while making the hooks my husband Rex envisioned a different use for the wire! He surprised me with this twisted wire tree that is now one of my favorite Christmas decorations!
There is no gift as wonderful as something handmade and from the heart, and that’s just one reason I love this tree. I also love its sculptural look-a hybrid of folk art and rustic simplicity. It’s a one of a kind gift that isn’t available in any store at any price! And it’s priceless to me.
If you’d like to make one for yourself or share it as a gift, here’s how to make it.
You’ll need a tree branch for the trunk, or you could also use a dowel for a different look. You can make the tree any size-just make sure the diameter of the branch or dowel is wide enough to drill holes into. A dowel can be wiped with wood stain or painted with acrylics too.
A Dremel was used to drill holes for the branches to fit into. There are also inexpensive hand drills on the market if you don’t have access to a Dremel. Drill the holes in an offset pattern around the trunk, turning it as you work your way along the trunk so you will have wire branches balanced around the tree. It’s important to use a drill bit that is close to the same size as the wire you use. If the hole is a little large, you can always secure the wire with a little added glue.
There are several different kinds of wire that will work, and they have different advantages. The wire used for my tree is 11 gauge aluminum wire. It’s pliable and easy to twist, but not readily available. Another option is 15 gauge (.062 diameter) wire for decorative soldering. I bought a roll at the craft store and it works well-it twists easily but it needs to be protected from being bent in storage since the wire is pliable.
The wire shown in the instructional photos is 16 gauge steel galvanized wire that I bought at Home Depot. A roll of 25 feet is $1.96. The wire is a little stiffer to work with, but makes a curled twist that will hold its shape. The finished look of all the wire types is very similar, so it’s a matter of your personal preference and what’s available to you.
The next step is to secure the branch into a base of your choice. The examples shown include a wood base and a small terra cotta pot. The pot can be painted or decorated if you like. I used a styrofoam ball as a filler in the pot and pushed it in tightly, adding a touch of glue around the edge. You can keep the rounded top of the styrofoam ball and brush it with glue and sprinkles of glitter to look like snow or cut it even with the top of the pot as on the example below.
To use a wood base, drill a hole in the base and secure the trunk into it tightly. Or you can drive a nail through the base and tap the trunk onto the nail. Secure it with glue if needed. Drill a small hole in the top of the trunk so you’ll have a place to add your star!
To make the wire twists, start out with a piece of wire about 6 1/2″ long. Grasp the end of the wire with needle nose pliers. Hold the other end of the wire with your other hand and start turning the pliers which will twist the wire into a curl. Start with a tighter twist and gradually make the curl open. The branches on the lower rows of the tree will be more open so they have a wider expanse and gradually become shorter with tighter curls as you move up to the top of the tree, giving it a tapered shape.
Place the branches in the holes and build it from the lower branches to the top-adding glue in the holes if necessary to secure them. Make a star by bending the wire and place it into the hole on top. Your tree is finished! Don’t miss an idea for making a wire gift tag below!
…to having a way with words and wire!
If you enjoy working with wire, here is an additional way to create with it! I love to tuck these joyful words into our Christmas tree! These examples were made with 16 gauge brass wire but you can experiment with any wire you have on hand. Twist the wire into letters and words with your pliers. Try creating personalized ornaments by twisting the wire into friend’s and family names-they make great gift tag tie ons that can be used as tree ornaments! I like to tie a Cheers wire ornament onto a bottle of wine for gift giving, which works any time of year! Or make a Joy ornament to add as a gift tag for your handmade tree!
Tis the season to be joyful and creative!