How to Make a Tree of Life Pendant
Step-by-Step Tree of Life Pendant Tutorial
Learning how to make a tree of life pendant using only wire and beads is a lot of fun - there's so much room for experimentation once you get the hang of the basics!
For example, you can modify the way that you make the pendant bale, change the size of the circle, give your tree more or less foliage and play around with different bead combinations. Personally, I like using Baltic amber chips for my fall trees, moonstone chips for my winter trees and peridot chips for my spring trees.
In terms of difficulty, this pendant is relatively easy. You should have a solid grasp of basic wire wrapping techniques, like coiling, twisting wire and making loops. We aren't going to be soldering the frame for this tree of life.
So, let's get starting with making a tree of life pendant, shall we?
Materials Needed for a Tree of Life Pendant - You don't have to use the exact same materials as I do; this is just a starting point.
1. One ~6.5" piece of 18g wire
2. Four ~6" pieces of 26g wire
3. 3mm-5mm stone chips of your choice (2mm-3mm round beads also work well)
4. Flush cutters
5. Round nose pliers
6. Chain nose pliers
7. Cup burr or file
8. Round object
For this tutorial, I'm using silver-plated Artistic Wire. You can also use plain copper wire or sterling silver wire; I recommend sticking with the cheap stuff while you're still learning!
Step 1: Creating the Circle - Tip: Smaller circles are easier to form than larger ones.
Start by wrapping your 18g wire around the round object that you picked out. Make sure that it is tightly wrapped so that it retains its shape after you slide it off. To make this tree of life pendant, I've decided to use a cardboard roll that some hemp cord was packaged on because I like the smaller diameter - the finished pendant will be slightly larger than a quarter. Wooden dowels, metal mandrels and other scavenged household objects also work well; just make sure you choose a round object with a smooth finish.
Quick Tip: I recommend learning how to make this smaller tree of life pendant first before you move onto a larger pendant. Smaller circles don't get bent out of shape nearly as easily when you are working with them, which makes them ideal for beginner hands. :)
This is what your circle should look like at this point. Don't worry about getting it perfect at this stage!
Step 2: Starting the Bale - I'm only showing you a single loop bale, but double loops look very nice, as well.
For this step, you will need to choose the longest wire. I usually try to make the longest wire end up in the front because it's easier for me to work with it in that position; however, you can choose the back wire, as well. To create the stem of the bale, take your chain nose pliers and bend the longest wire up at a 90 degree angle. It's important to make sure the bend is as centered as possible.
After bending the wire, this is what you end up with.
Need to learn how to create a loop or other basic techniques? - Here are some of my favorite wire wrapping books to get you started.
Step 3: Making the Loop
At this point, I like to rotate the pendant so that the bend I just created is facing me. Doing so makes it easier for me to work with my round nose pliers to create the loop. If this position is awkward for you, try making the bend face a different direction until you find one that works well.
Using your round nose pliers, create a loop with the piece of wire that you bent in the previous step. You will need to leave about a 1/4" of a stem underneath the loop to accommodate the wire wrapping we'll be doing next.
Step 4: Finishing the Loop
Quick Tip: Before you start wrapping the bottom wire around the stem that you just created, I recommend placing your circle over your round object again. Working with it around the object will help prevent the circle from getting bent out of shape as you work on finishing the loop for the bale.
Using your chain nose pliers, firmly grasp the bottom wire and wrap it fully around the stem of the bale once. Now, take the top wire that you formed the loop with and wrap it around twice. Make sure your coils are tight and close together. When you're done making sure everything looks good, cut off the excess wire with your flush cutters; both cut ends should meet at the back of the bale, not the front or the side.
This is what the back of your pendant should look like at this point.
Before pushing the cut ends down, make sure you take the time to file them or use a cup burr to round them off. Doing this not only gives your work a professional touch, but it also eliminates any sharp ends that could poke the wearer. Once you're finished, use your chain nose pliers to firmly press both of the filed ends down against the stem.
Step 5: Starting the Tree Roots
Pick up one of your pieces of 26g wire and make a bend in the middle. Position the bend at the bottom of your circle, and start wrapping the 26g wire around the frame. I usually wrap it around 3-4 times; alternating this number will give you more natural looking roots when you're finished. Make sure the wraps that you are making are tightly coiled - if they aren't, gently press them together with your fingernail. Repeat this for the three remaining pieces of 26g wire.
Step 6: Finishing the Roots - We'll also be making the trunk now, too.
Gather all of your 26g wires together at the bottom of the circle, making sure that they are centered directly underneath the pendant bale. Decide on the size that you want to make the roots, and then start twisting all of the bundled wires together; use firm, slow movements to do this.
Keep twisting the wires until the tree trunk is at the desired length - the shorter you make the trunk, the fuller your tree will end up being. You can easily alter the look of your future pendants by just adjusting the size of the trunk.
Step 7: Start Making the Branches
Separate the 26g wires in pairs from the trunk to make the branches of your pendant. Once you have finished separating them, you should end up with four pairs of wire.
Step 8: Twist the Branches
Once you have separated each pair, start twisting them together to form the branches. I usually make 5-8 twists; the amount you make will again determine how full your tree looks. The less twists you make, the more foliage you can add. When you are done twisting each pair together, you will end up with eight branches.
Want to learn another way to create a tree of life pendant? - Check out my comprehensive tree of life pendant tutorial!
In my tree of life pendant tutorial, I demonstrate two ways to create the tree - the method that you just learned, and a completely different approach. The end pieces that are produced look similar, but the style nuances are very apparent; one looks more natural, while the other method creates a very uniform-looking tree.
Additionally, I've also included a bonus section dedicated to a step-by-step walk through of the basic wire wrapping techniques that you will need to complete this pendant: coiling and forming a loop. The entire tutorial is 63 pages long in PDF format.
Sample Pictures from the TutorialClick thumbnail to view full-size
Step 9: Add Leaves to Your Branches
Quick Tip: I like using earthy colors for my tree of life pendants, but that doesn't mean that you have to! Using different types of beads will give you interesting variations of this tree pendant. Try using stone chips, faceted beads and round beads - or even combine different types.
Start adding stone chips or beads of your choice to the first branch of the tree. Once you've finished adding the beads, tightly wrap the end of the 26g wire around the frame; keep wrapping until you've completed at least 3-4 coils. Just leave the excess wire at the end - don't cut it off yet. Repeat this for each branch until you have finished adding leaves to all eight.
Step 10: Cut Off the Excess Wires - Make sure you use flush cutters!
Before you start cutting, make sure that each branch is positioned the way that you want it. If there are any that need additional leaves or other adjustments, now is the time to do it. When you're done, use your flush cutters to cut off the excess 26g wire. Don't forget to push down the cut ends so that they aren't poking up anymore!
Step 11: Add the Finishing Touch to the Tree Roots (Optional)
Once I'm finished with the branches, I like to go back and bend the roots to give them a more natural look - feel free to leave them neat and straight if you like how that looks. Add your tree of life pendant to a cord of your choice and it's ready to wear!
Here's what your pendant should look like from the side:
And, here's a quick size comparison:
Congratulations! You just learned how to make a tree of life pendant. - Now go make another one...or five!
Hopefully this tutorial gave you a good idea of how to make a tree of life pendant. If you have any questions, or think a step might be missing, feel free to let me know with a comment.
Quick Tip: If you're using copper wire or sterling silver wire to make your tree pendant, consider hammering the frame to give it a textured look.
You can find more tutorials and tips like this on my website. If you would like to purchase one of my tree of life pendants, I sell them in my Etsy shop and at Caterpillar Arts - Nature Inspired Handmade Gifts.