A few years ago while still living just north of Memphis, Tennessee, I attended a rock club meeting; the adult program that evening was a slide show of a couple's fossil collecting trip to China and the youth program was learning how to make a gemstone tree. Being as I do not ever imagine I will go to China and I am not much into fossils, I slipped back and joined the youth for their class and learned how to make a simple gemstone tree. The following is my version of the tutorial.

The supplies for this project include the following: wire (24-26 gauge); tiny gem stones, E6000 and 527 glues; base rock; round nose pliers; ruler or some measuring device; scissors; rubber band(s).

The stones can be tumbled by those so inclined, purchased at rock shows or in shops, or ordered online, I get mine at MysticCrystal.com and if ordering from there be sure to order the tiny size or get ready to make larger trees with heavier wire to hold them. I am sure there are other places too - I like that they sell them individually as many sites I found only had bags of mixed stones.

There are places online where you can order tarnish free wire, however I find that simple craft wire works very well and I have not had a problem with it tarnishing and I have trees that I made several years ago. However, if you worry about this you can spray a clear lacquer onto the wire before affixing it to the base rock and let it dry before continuing. Also I have found that the same gauge of wire in the various colors (gold, silver, copper) are all different - I generally use 24 gauge for the gold, but that can be a bit stiff in the silver so I go to 26, and the copper is thinner so it needs a smaller gauge wire unless you want to make a much smaller tree then 24 gauge in the copper at 12 inch lengths will make a finished tree about half the size.

Hold the end of wire to one end of ruler and wrap wire around it at least six times - for fuller tree wrap use more - for this demonstration I wrapped the ruler 9 times.

Cut the wire at each end of ruler - in this project, I used 18 wires, each 12 inches long. You can make a jig with a board and headless nails and make the wires whatever length you desire - the longer the wire however the more wraps or the tree may look a bit too spindly.

Hold the wires in the center and make a twist - the loop at the end will become the roots of the tree.

The ends of the wires will become the limbs.

Hold the wire and twist the two halves together to form the trunk of the tree - how tall you want your trunk depends on the number and length of wire you use.

For this project, I twisted the trunk up for about one inch, the two sections of wire are to be twisted into the primary limbs of the tree.

Holding one side/set of the wires out of the way, divide the other section and twist them together. Repeat on the other set.

The above shows the tree with trunk and two primary limbs

Once again, divide each section - you now have 4 sections of wire - and twist the secondary limbs as above.

Continue to divide and twist each section of wire until they all end in single wires. Since I used 18 wires when those 18 are divided in half there are two sections of 9 (an uneven number). For this, I simply leave the odd wire out at an angle as I continue to twist the remaining wires out.

Flatten out the "roots" so that you can begin to form the limbs into the shape of the tree.

Using round nose pliers, grab the end and holding firmly turn the pliers to form a loop on the end of each wire (end of wire should be between the two ends of the pliers or your loop will not be a circle).

All ends looped

Dry fit your tree to the base rock deciding how and where you want it to sit.

Place a good dollop of E6000 glue onto the rock and affix the tree into the glue - use a rubber band or two if needed to secure the tree to the base rock until the glue dries.

Turn each of the loops so that they are near horizontal - it is next to impossible to get your stones to stay put if they are not fairly level.

View of tree from above showing horizontal loops.

Choose the stones you want to use for your tree; placing onto a sheet of paper makes them easier to see and choose and returning leftovers to the container when finished.

Place a drop of the 527 (fast drying) glue to a loop.

Place a stone onto the glue and hold for a second until it will remain there.

Glue a stone to each loop.

Once all the stones are placed, the base glue should be sufficiently dried and you can cut the rubber bands and remove them. Then, you can reshape your tree - it is very important that you do your re shaping using your round nose pliers only.

With a little imagination, it doesn't take long to figure out ways to make different types of trees. For instance if you wanted to make a bonsai tree you would need to bunch up the tiny stones to make a bigger statement - I searched and found a couple books on the trees and found one that had instructions in it - it said to use the scales from gar or carp - soak them in bleach water to clean, then glue stones to them and glue the scale to the tree - however another simpler way is to put a large drop of glue onto some heavy plastic - such as a freezer type bag or use a butter bowl lid - then place your stones into the glue and let it dry - it will easily peel off of the plastic. (will not come off of very thin plastic such as a grocery bag very well).

You can leave the wires long and make a series of loops in them and put stones all along the wire; or perhaps just one or two loops placed along the wire and one on the end for a fuller look to the tree.

On occasion I like to make the tree just have a few thick roots instead of the wires all spread around as in the project one - in this case I divide the wires into 3 or 4 groups, then twist each loop out to the end - to get most of the resulting loop out I use a dentist's wire pick, insert it into the loop and twist it as small as possible. The more wires used in the tree the harder these can be to twist - leave them longer at the initial twist to make it easier.

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