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Crafty: Gem Tree

By 07:12:00 , , , ,

This is not a good craft idea for the weak of heart or anyone lacking patience. This will at the least take three days...... I spent over a week making this tree. But you do end up with something really lovely and useless!

You will need:
  • lots of copper wire, (can be bought or recycled from old television sets)
  • a rock for a base
  • a rock to crush (or lots of smaller rocks to crush)
  • wire cutters
  • something with which to hold the end of the wire you are twisting.
  • tooth picks and or cake testing stick thing
  • tight fitting washing up gloves
  • an ice-cream container lid (or some other large flexible lid)
  • another lid to mix the glue on (that can be chucked out afterwards I really don't think you would want to try get the glue of it)
  • paper to put down on the surface you are working on
  • a few other bits and pieces, bags, containers.... 
  • some way of crushing the rock that is destined to be dust.
  • glue... the most evil ingredient 5 minute Araldite.... or maybe try get one of the slower drying ones... then again that could make it worse. alternatively you can chicken out on the waterproof glue and just use a craft glue, but the tree won't last forever.... not that it would anyway.
I had always wanted to make one of these trees. Because my mother owned one as did my granny, some other relatives and my uncle. Simply because my uncle makes them, very occasionally. 

The leaves of the tree are made from crushed rock. My uncle made a fancy thing for crushing them.... I on the other hand used a large (very strong) rock, and ice-cream container (a big one) some old fly screen (as a sieve). And I collected a lot of small red rocks which I crushed. That took hours.....

I had the rocks in the bottom of the container and I would smash down the big rock three to five times, then sieve out all the dust and tiny pieces of rock into another container. And do that again and again until all the rocks were powder.... actually I did not quite obliterate everyone.

Note: do the aforementioned step outside on another hard surface.

Next I got a tiny sieve from the kitchen and removed all the dust. luckily I still had enough almost dust to make the leaves.... 

You need the lid of the container just destroyed, by crushing rocks in it (who would of thought that rocks are tougher than plastic!) 

5 minute Araldite it true to its name it is a sticky glob that can't be spread by 5 minuets. Araldite comes in two tubes that once mixed form a substance that is more evil than any other glue I have come across. Anyway you must get this glue and quickly form blobs of it all over the lid (I made the full amount of leaves for the tree in about four.... or more glue mixes.) I used tooth picks to move the glue and get it into leaf sized blobs. Then of course you have to sprinkle the rock-not-quite-dust onto the Araldite.... oh and I should mention the Araldite stinks and you should not get it on your skin so you will probably want to be very careful or have at least one hand in a washing up glove.

Note: when sprinkling the rock-not-quite-dust onto sticky, stinky substance, sprinkle it everywhere and tip off the excess later. (then use it for the next batch or leaves)

24 hours later the leaves should no longer be flexible or at all sticky, unless of course you did not get your amounts of glue from each tube even in which case if they are not hard now they never will be. All you have to do (if they worked) is bend the lid, and the leaves should just come off. Then you are done.... making the leaves.... not the hardest part.

Now comes the part where you need the something with which to hold the end of the wire that you are twisting. You also will need to cut a length of wire, the tree will probably end up a third of the length you cut it. For this tree which is around 19cm high I cut lengths of wire around 60cm long. 

Find the middle of the length and hooking it around the twisting-holding implement twist. I should have taken some closer photos but the photo below is a pile of the pieces made in this step. The leaf will be glued to most of each twig and the loop. The exact size does not really matter. You can make some of these 'sticks' with three leaves on them, but all of mine used five. 

Next you begin joining the 'sticks' together with a lot of twisting. This is also when you can become creative and start thinking about what you want the tree to end up like. Although don't bother with shaping it yet because you will have to flatten it out in a later step.

My brothers both made small ones with normal glue. That only took them two days. And they do look just as good.

But to continue, you need a rock, a base for the tree to cling to. Find a suitable rock before starting on the roots as you will want to shape them to fit the rock, but the tree will be more sturdy if you have three roots coming from the base initially.

Now comes that glue again. I used blue tack to hold the roots to the rock while gluing them. The problem with this is of course that you could end up getting the Araldite on the blue tack...... but hopefully you sill notice that happening before it is set like a rock, to the rock.

I also made a little owl to sit in the tree simply because I felt like it.

Then leave that to set properly, to the rock like a rock.

Then you need to flatten out the 'sticks' so that you will be able to balance the leaves on them...... the balancing is by far the most horrible part of all. But also remember that as you place leaves on the branches will be weighed down and the leaves will be even harder to balance as they will no longer be horizontal! 

The Araldite dries fast. So you will only want to mix up small bits at a time. You really must have gloves for this step as I found it inevitable that I got glue on me. 

Then sit and watch as the leaves drop off and you have to keep sticking them back on. Or better they fall and stick to a lower branch, or just take down a few others with them.... and glue themselves to your desk.

This part took days. And also don't do it on a hot day when the house is closed up because the smell...... And if it is windy... well you are mad to try it then. Although you would probably have to be mad to even start making one in the first place....... which I am.

Here you can see the underside of a branch after it has dried. 

And the above side.

Lastly you get to shape the tree to however you want it to look like. It could be all bent and twisted, stretching to the sky, twisted way down low like a bush, anyhow at all.

I have probably forgotten some bits... but as far as I can remember that is how I made a Gem Tree and how you could make one too, if you are mad enough.

And my finished tree, which could possibly be worth the pain... 

Are you mad enough?
What do you think of my tree?

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  1. That's so pretty! I'm not likely to try making my own until summer rolls around here again-but it IS lovely to look at.

    1. Thanks, it is summer here now, but of course it is not way over the other side of the world! The internet is just so amazing in how people can connect with others they would never otherwise meet in person.

  2. That's beautiful!

  3. Wow! I also am going to HAVE to try this in the summer! ! looks AWESOME!

  4. Wow, wow, wow Clare! I love this! I've something like these before and thought they looked really neat, and difficult to make! I think that even more now! Beautifully done!