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How to wrap a tree of life around a cabochon

A way to make a boring looking cabochon into a gorgeous pendant. Perfect for if you love creating Tree of Life designs but find they are no longer a challenge. It is a very fiddly project and requires a lot of attention to detail.

You will need:

  • 0.8mm gold plated copper wire
  • 0.25mm gold plated copper wire
  • Oval onyx cabochon 4.4cm by 2.4cm
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Needle Nose Pliers or Chain Nose Pliers
  • Flush cutters
  • Flat Nose Pliers
  • Bead Mat
  • Masking Tape or low tack masking tape

Time to Make: 2 Hour

Skill Level: Advanced


  1. Tree Of Life Cut 21 pieces of 0.25mm wire 14 cm long. Take 5 of them and twist the wires in the middle. Using the chain nose pliers makes this easier to do though they are not essential. Twist all 21 wires together so that the twisted part is in the middle of the wires. This will be the tree trunk. Place it over the cabochon to decide whether the twisted section is the right length. If it is not, it can always be re-twisted or untwisted. Image 1
  2. Tree Of LifeSeparate all the wires at the top and the bottom of the trunk. This can take a while. It is important that the wires are in order and not twisted over one another. Image 2
  3. Tree Of LifeThe next step is slightly different from the traditional tree of life. The branches will be completely created before they are attached to the cabochon. To create branches twist up to 5 wires together, then every so often leave one or two wires out and carry on twisting. This makes every Tree of Life Cabochon pendant completely different, and lets you find your own style.
  4. Tree Of LifeContinue doing the branches and then the root system using this technique. Keep referring back to the cabochon, so that the branches/roots are the right size. Do not worry if not, as they can always be re-twisted or untwisted later.
  5. Tree Of LifeCut 1 piece 0.8mm wire 26cm long. Manipulate the middle of the wire to create an oval that fits just inside the back of the cabochon. This can take time to get the shape exactly right.
  6. Tree Of LifeUse masking tape to secure the oval wire to the cabochon, making sure that the bottom part is clear. Press the masking tape down so the wire does not move. Place the tree on the front of the cabochon, where you want it to be. Then use masking tape to keep it in place, leaving only the roots clear. Again make sure the tape is pressed down.
  7. Tree Of LifeTo attach the first root wire, pull it around the cabochon. Make sure the tension is right, and coil 3 times around the oval wire. This will secure the wire in place. Continue doing this for all the roots, keeping an eye on how it looks at the front. It is easier to work left to right.
  8. Tree Of LifeThis is what it should look like at the back when all the roots are attached. It is important not to have the wires overlaying each other when looping.
  9. Tree Of LifeRemove the masking tape. If you do not want a straight tree trunk, now is the time to bend it. Use the needle nose or chain nose pliers to gently twist it into the shape that you like.
  10. Tree Of LifeAttach the masking tape to the back of the cabochon, covering up the root system. Press it down. Also attach masking tape to the front of the cabochon covering up the trunk and the roots. This is to keep it in place as theoretically the wires could just fall off the cabochon. Attach a smaller piece of masking tape to the place at the top where the 0.8mm wire crosses. Continue attaching the branches like in step 7.
  11. Tree Of LifeOnce you get to the branches at the top of the tree, remove the masking tape at the top and attach it to part that you have just completed. This time when attaching the branches wrap them 3 times around both 0.8mm wires. Once this is done replace the masking tape, and continue doing the branches.
  12. Tree Of LifeWhen all the branches are done, move the two 0.8mm wires so that they are close together. Cut them down to 7cm from the cabochon using the flush cutters. These will form the bail.
  13. Tree Of LifeThe ladder weave will be used to create the bail. This time the wire will stay on the reel while weaving. The first step is to loop the wire around one of the 0.8mm wires a few times to secure it. Then the wire will go under the opposite wire and loop around it. Next the wire will now go over the bottom wire and loop around it. Keep the wires close together in the weave. It may be worth practising this weave before trying to create the bail.
  14. Tree Of LifeWeave approx. 2cm from the top of the pendant. At the end loop the wire around one of the 0.8mm wires to secure it. Cut the wire with the flush cutters and use the flat nose pliers to secure it to the wire. Use your finger to make sure the wire is not rough. Remember to cut the excess wire from the beginning of the weave too.
  15. Tree Of LifeTake all the masking tape off. Look at your tree, if you like it as it is, ignore the next step. To make it have less straight branches and roots, use the needle nose pliers to twist each one individually. This has to be done delicately, so as not to snap the wires. It is similar to the technique used on the trunk but is more exact. This can take a lot of time, and it can be difficult to capture the wires in the pliers. Once you are happy with the tree, stop.
  16. Tree Of LifeTime to cut all the wires. Start at one end with the flush cutters. Cut one wire, then use the needle nose pliers to secure the end of the wire. Use your fingers to check if it is rough, if it is use the needle nose pliers again. This is similar to what you are used to doing, only it is a lot fiddlier. Work your way around all the wires.
  17. Tree Of LifeUse the round nose pliers to bend the bail bit around to create a circle like the photograph.
  18. Tree Of LifeCut the wires down to about 2 cm from the bail. Use the round nose pliers to create a small loop at the end of each wire. Use the flat nose pliers to gently move the loops so that they are flat against the cabochon.
  19. Tree Of LifeThe pendant is now finished.