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Making Trees with Wire

My wife's grandma is 94. When she was only a few years younger, her eyesight was better and here hands more steady. She used to pass some of her spare time making miniature trees with copper wire and beads. The exact same method works excellently to make trees for dioramas. Here's how you can make diorama trees that are larger than the mini-trees you'll find in a hobby store. They look very convincing. It may look hard at first, but it's really easy.

The whole method consists of making a metal wire skeleton, that can be covered by different methods of your choice to simulate the bark.

You need nine or twelve strands of wire. The length of each strand is easy to calculate : first you decide how high the tree needs to be, then you multiply its heighth with 2,5. (two point five). For example : a tree of 30 cm needs strands of wire of 30 x 2,5 = 75 cm. I use the kind of wire that you'll find in a DIY store or garden center, with a thickness of about 0,5 mm.

Part One : Making the Roots

You cut nine or twelve strands to equal size, and hold them together. You bend the whole bunch in the middle.

Next, you place 3 or 4 fingers (depending on tree size) on the middle section to form a loop around your fingers.

Next, you twist the strands a few times to make this a firm loop.

The loop that you now created, will become the base of the tree's root system. Divide the loop into bunches of one, two, three or four wires each, thus creating separate loops.

Now start twisting each of these loops to form the root system. These roots are placed horizontally: they become the basis of your tree. This basis will be buried in the base of your diorama, or you can even make part of those tree roots visible on top of the grass or soil the tree "grows" in.

Start twisting each of the individual loops a few times, then split them in two or three again and continue twisting till you get a root-like system.

Now the root system starts taking shape. First you spread the roots horizontally in a way that you like, and that seems natural. The roots in this picture show you the result we have reached thus far (branches come in the next chapter).

Next, you take a pair of pliers and snap the individual little loops in half. Thus, the roots don't end in an individual little loop (one strand thick), but in two loose pieces. Don't cut right in the middle (at six O'clock), but somewhere between three and five o'clock, so you end up with two pieces of different length. This is illustrated further down when we discuss the tree's branches. Straighten the pieces out so they look like real pieces of twisted root.

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About Jan (GeneralFailure)

I live in Belgium, Europe. Though modeling was big on my list of hobbies, I spent all my time refurbishing the home we bought a few years ago. I promised I'd be back some day. That day can't be far off, now.