A few people have asked me how I make these wire tree sculptures so I thought I should write a brief how to here on the blog, however, I must say right from the start I am not going to reveal all of the techniques I have from learnt Sal Villano’s “How To” book, to get the full instruction you should go and buy his book on line which you can do here:
I am in no way making any money out of drawing your attention to Sal’s book, it’s just my way of saying thanks to Sal for providing me with first the inspiration to learn this craft and second for providing me with the knowledge to pursue this art form.
Ok so lets dive in at the start, in this first picture you can see a block of wood with some nails in it, a roll of wire and my cutters, these are essentially all the tools you need to get started.
Now we will get the wire attached onto the jig, simply do this by wrapping the end of the wire around one of the nails a few times, I have found that if your wrap it from the top of the nail towards the bottom it makes life easier (you will see why later), make sure you leave a 2 to 3 inch tail of wire which you can tuck out of the way under the wooden block.
Next step is to start wrapping the wire around the nails, it doesn’t matter which direction you go in but make sure you keep count of how many wraps you are making
Continue wrapping your wire around the nails until you have say 40 complete wraps, before cutting your wire leave a good 2 to 3 inches extra and then make your cut. This is the first of only 3 cuts you will make during the whole process! Remember the flying end you tucked under the wooden block, now get hold of that and gently unwrap it from the nail.
Now you should have something looking like the picture below, the wire wrapped around the nails with two flying ends of wire
Now wrap one of your flying wire ends around the whole bunch about an inch or so away from the nail, wrap this as tight as you can,
Now wrap your other flying end over the wrap you just made, the purpose of this is to hold the bunch together when you take it off the nails, otherwise it just springs off and you could end up with something resembling a rat’s nest!
It’s time to take the whole bunch off the nails, take it easy and gently get the much off the middle nail first, this allows a little slack so you can get it over one of the end nails. Hopefully it will look like the picture below.
The next step is to gently shape it into an oval, trying to get as much of the creasing out of the wire as you can which was formed when it was wrapped around the nails.
Time for the second cut, well this will be many cuts depending on how many wraps you made around the nails, look at the picture below, I am going to cut the wire where the tip of the pencil is pointing to
Make your cuts slowly, don’t try to cut too many wires at one time because this will damage your cutters, once you have cut through all the wires you should have something like the picture below
Carefully straighten your bunch of wires out now, don’t pull on them to much as you might start pulling individual wires out of the bunch
Time to grab your roll of wire again, start wrapping right next to the wrap you did earlier and wrap along the bunch away from the first wrap you did earlier just before taking the sire off the nails, I carry on wrapping the wire tightly for about an inch and then start wrapping back down, going over what I have just done, keep going until you get the end of the very first wrap you did.
Now the fun start, it’s time to start forming the roots, let you imagination run wild as this is nature you are trying to replicate so there is no set way that roots grow, but as you can see from the picture below I have separated a bunch of wire from the main bunch to form the first root. Now grab your roll of wire and start wrapping along the length of this root until you get about half way, then again separate the bunch of wires into two bunches and continue wrapping along the length of one of these new bunches. When you get near to the end, separate the wires in the bunch to create a V now bring your wire through this V and start wrapping back over the wraps you have already done. When you reach the other bunch of wires start wrapping along them just the same as you have just done, once you have wrapped along this bunch back to where you started continue wrapping all the way back along the root until you get to it’s base.
Continue doing what you have been doing until you have a root formation along the lines of that shown below
Now start wrapping up the trunk for a couple of inches or so and then you can start to form the branches, this is similar to making the roots, you just separate out some of the wire and start to wrap along it, separating and wrapping along the way and then back again. This is where your imagination comes into play big time, just let it run wild and guide you as you form your tree.
As I said right at the start, I have given you the basics of how to make your wire sculpted tree, however, to learn the techniques properly please go and buy Sal’s “How To” book where everything is explained in much greater details and also a lot of techniques I haven’t covered here. You can get the book here:
With the basics I have shown here and the techniques you will learn from Sal’s book, it won’t be long before you are creating beautiful wire tree sculptures like the one below. Yes this is the tree we have been making through the process of writing this post, there is still some work to do on it yet but it gives you an idea of what can be achieved.
If this has captured your interest you can see more of oru wire tree sculptures in Shalini’s showroom: