A lot of work goes into the preparation and creation of each wire tree sculpture. Here is a high-level description of a typical creation process:
Design – it all starts with a well-planned design that includes the type of tree (basic shape such as willow, windswept, bonsai, etc.), the number of wires to include, the gauge (or thickness) of the wire, the length of each wire, and the type of base it will go on.
Preparation – the wire is cut to length for the number of wires selected. In most cases, they average from 100 – 200 wires. The rule of thumb is to use about twice the length of what the height of the tree will stand when finished. For example, an 11″ tree was made from 24″long wires. 200 wires at 24″ uses 400′ of wire. The trees are made with enameled coated copper or aluminum wire. These wires will not tarnish over time. In most cases, each wire is straightened after being cut from a wire spool, which can add about 2-3 hours of additional time to the process.
Creation – the wires are placed in a wooden jig; think of many holes drilled closely together where 10-15 wires are inserted in each hole. The length of wire protruding from the bottom of the jig will make up the roots of the tree. The jig helps to keep the wires organized so you can get a consistent pattern as you twist the wires to make up the trunk of the tree. Based on the design, groups of wire are pulled out of the trunk wires to form the branches. A certain amount of wire is left at the end of each branch to make the leaf pattern. Each leaf pattern consists of 20-25 loops. So a tree with 200 wires with an average of 25 loops per wire results in 5,000 twisted loops. When the top part of the tree is completed, the tree is pulled from the jig, and the process of twisting the remaining wires to form the roots of the tree begins.
Depending on the base that the tree will sit on determines how the roots are arranged. In some cases, when placing a tree on a rock base, not all of the wires are used and are cut off. Placing a tree on a rock base adds considerable time to the process because the wires have to be precisely formed to the rock’s shape. The tree is adhered to its base by an industrial strength adhesive.
Effort – from start to finish trees can take from 3 – 5 days to complete.