I needed some miniature trees for an art project earlier in the year and found some on Ebay for making model landscapes and train set scenery. They would have worked well but I really wanted specific tree forms so I decided to make my own. Here's my tutorial, it's such a simple and quick project.
2 pairs of needle nose pliers with wire cutting feature
Copper or steel wire, 26 gauge is preferred
Ruler for measuring wire for cutting
Beads, bases or other embellishments (optional)
5 minute or quick dry Epoxy for securing tree to base
Safety glasses (& rubber gloves if you have a hard time holding the wires)
*I've used brass wire, but it's much too stiff to bend easily and silver wire tends to be too soft and breaks too easily.
*You can use a lower gauge. thicker wire, but it'll be harder to work with. But it's helpful if you want to make bigger trees.
Cut five lengths of wire about 7"-8" long. As a rule of thumb the wire should be three to four times the height of your tree. I'm making a 2" tree so these wires are 7"-8"long. It also depends on the shape of your tree... an upright will need less wire length... a weeping will need more. You'll get the hang of it once you make a few.
Loosely bend wires in half and make sure not to crimp the wire (like in the upper right). You want a U shape and not a V shape. Gather all the wires together and match up the cut ends.
If you want a beaded tree then insert 3-5 beads per wire (lower right). Basically each bead equals to the number of branching you get.
Starting from the cut ends and twist all the wires together. It may be easier to start the first few twists with your fingers then use the pliers to tighten the turns. It takes a few tries to get the twists tight and even, but be careful not to over twist or you'll break the wires. Keep twisting until you get your desired trunk length. This is a judgment call, I usually go half way up like this:
Once you’ve finished the trunk fan out the looped ends and start branching. Divide and twist… divide and twist. Work each branch to completion then move on to the next one. There’s no wrong way to do this, just use your judgment. You’ll get better at making more realistic trees after you make a few. Just be sure to not over twist or the wire will break.
If you’re working with beading make sure to divide the beads evenly when you branch. Each bead will sit at the tip of each branching.
(*Tip: More branches you give you shorter trees/branches. Fewer branchees will give you longer limbs or taller trees. Longer branches will be better for a windswept or weeping tree.)
Have some fun... don't worry too much about how it'll turn out until you've got the process down. The fastest way I learn is by making mistakes :) This is what finished branching looks like:
Finishing/ Step 5:
Now that you have your finished branch you can shape it to become your tree! This is where a little creativity and play comes in. The wires are very malleable so feel free to bend away... try different forms. If you're unfamiliar with tree shapes I recommend looking at Bonsai books for inspiration. For a good base drill a small hole in any suitable object. Apply some epoxy to base of tree to secure your planting :)
Have fun folks!
Here's more of my DIY's