rocking-chair-musings

The Making of a Tree of Life

I have always been drawn to nature and trees. I grew up in the country. We cut wood, made fence posts, tapped trees and gathered sap. Ah, the sweet gifts! Hours in the woods on horseback restored my spirit more times than I can count. Some of the most important moments of my life have happened in, around and under trees. The Tree of Life has been an important symbol for me. It has grounded me, helped me grow, kept me as steady as possible, and been my inspiration to dream.

It has become a major part of Mother of Metal, naturally. I never go anywhere without mine. It has become part of my “uniform”. (Did I mention that I love the dress code here?!) I spent a LOT of time developing my design for my version of the Tree of Life. I examined every picture I could find. I looked at the way others constructed theirs and tried my hand at a framework from a re-claimed perspective.

Don't call JunkAway....this is NOT JUNK!                   It just needs a little work to turn into....

 

The stripped raw material. Working with the heavy gauges of wire that I find and strip presents some unique challenges. Keeping the natural state of the copper as much as possible after stripping it is necessary or it becomes too work-hardened to be cooperative. It’s all curly and twisted coming out of the plastic casings. I don’t want to have to get into torches and annealing with this design. After much trial and error, tired hands and calloused fingers, I arrived at the braided design for the frame. I now get into a Zen place while making them. It reminds me of the days I spent braiding the ribbons into our Clydesdale’s manes for showtime. Infused with love right from the beginning!

Now, putting them into production…well crank the tunes! 

Hours of making Tree of Life frames gets you this!   Do I have a coffee or a beer? Decisions, decisions.

Frames are built. I have a selection of gemstone chips to choose from, but my first trees were peridot or lemon jade leaves. I really love the turquoise and amethyst trees I have created for some very special people and they remain some of my favourite pieces.

Choosing the stones and wiring the trees comes next. Each tree is unique even though the basics are the same. Some are birthstone trees, some are 4 season trees, some become bolos or family trees. Some of the trees are left in the natural copper state and some are treated with a liver of sulfur patina solution to turn the copper black.

 Liver of sulfur smells like rotten eggs so I like to have a good amount of work ready to dip before mixing up a bath. My personal preference is the patina’d outcome.

Just out of the stinky Patina bath! Things then move on to the bench where the lovely black patina is removed to just the right point. The copper underneath becomes a rich brown or pink and added dimension is glorious! Each piece is hand sanded, buffed and sealed. The tool or material used in this process creates a different end result each time. A brass brush creates a different colour than a steel brush does. I don’t measure the amount of Liver of Sulfur I put into the bath, just to add a bit of excitement. Life on the edge! I love revealing the surprise beauty each and every time!

 

Ready to sand and polish.   

 

 All cleaned up! Cherry quartz on this one.

Then comes making the handmade lanyard, but that is a note for another day. Here are some finished products. Enjoy! Now I must go make something! 


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