Finally, the Tree

This project should have been finished at least six months ago. It’s been a long time coming. Looking at the photo of it below, it really doesn’t seem like it should have taken even close to so long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the results, I just haven’t absorbed the full weight of the design lessons this tree embodies.

The seed of the idea for this project began with my dissatisfaction with the boxes I kept my jewelry in. They were both designed for holding jewelry with little compartments and everything, but they just weren’t doing the job – plus it took two, one of which was quite bulky and took a lot of counter space, and I don’t even have all that much jewelry. I was ending up with a tangled mess of earrings and necklaces, to the point where if I wanted to wear one thing, I had to take everything in that compartment out to untangle it.

Something to hang on the wall seemed like a smart way to go, instead of taking up all the space on my nightstand or dresser (these boxes were with me in a few different living arrangements, and they were always problematic). That would also put the pieces I tend to wear often on display and hopefully streamline the difficult process of picking earrings for the day. The tree shape is just something I’m generally attracted to, I love to draw them and have for a long time. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or if there is an explanation, or if there really needs to be.

There are actually lots of jewelry storage and display sculptures modeled on trees out there, in lots of different shapes and sizes. I found a number that were very pretty. None that I found fit my criteria though – they all stood on flat surfaces and were quite three dimensional, and thus wouldn’t help my space issue. I also found that despite taking up a lot of room, they didn’t fit many pieces of jewelry and usually just things that could be draped over the branches, so post backed earrings were problematic. I dug into my memory a little and turned up small earring holders they used to (perhaps still do?) market toward 11 year olds just starting to get jewelry and makeup, which were essentially just a round piece of wire mesh on a stand that earrings could be hung from. Somehow I had to smash these concepts all into one design. I hoped the composite would cover the design failings of each individual piece.

The result is a tree cut from fireplace screen, with the edges reinforced and wrapped in wire. The screen is a great inexpensive material that earrings – post back and hook type – can be hung from without damaging it over time. The branches and roots proved perfect for draping necklaces and bracelets over, but problematic in their thickness. This kind of screen is just wire woven together, it’s not joined in any way, and when it’s cut into thin pieces the weave starts to pop apart. On the one hand, wrapping wire around the edges held it together, but on the other hand, having the whole thing threaten to unravel made the wrapping a lot more tedious than necessary.

I should probably add that when I started the tree, I didn’t have the tools or space to do something like solder around the ends. It was all hand tools, no heat, nothing fancy. I personally think that limitations lead to greater creativity, and am pleased with how my simple (but labor and time intensive) solution turned out aesthetically. At the same time, having a rotary tool by the time I finished this off was very welcome, it allowed me to smooth out the remaining pokey edges quickly and avoid wrapping the entire perimeter. Sometimes a little step forward in technology is a good thing.

This is a lot of text for something that in the end is fairly basic. There really was a huge amount of learning on the fly with this thing though, from neatening my copper wire wrapped technique so it would spiral smoothly rather than zigzag back and forth, to shaping the brass wire into smooth curves without leaving plier marks everywhere, to holding the thing in place while I worked on one area without having another unravel before I got to it. I’ll admit it, I’m a little proud of my progress. I made something utilitarian, but at the same time it’s decorative and not purely useful. Look how pretty it is with all my baubles hanging on it!

It’s like a Spanish moss covered oak, or a weeping willow, but sparklier.

I would definitely like to make more like this, but…not like this. For one thing, the tree motif has to change. Maybe to another tree, maybe to a different shape altogether. The thin branches aren’t sturdy, and stronger thick ones work just as well. A built in hanger is called for, my tree is just held up with pushpins, and that’s something I might add to this piece as well. The technique of wrapping wire around all of the edges has pretty results, but it’s tedious. A simpler, faster way to clean up the edges is definitely in order, and I’m open to ideas. On its own this might not look like much, but as a prototype, there is some promise.

Also, for those who asked for a pattern for the tauntaun, it’s coming soon, I promise.

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~ by maramas on July 29, 2011.

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