The Tree of Life is symbolic in nearly every culture and religion. It unites heaven, earth, and the underworld and acts as a bridge between the worlds. In Norse mythology, the tree of life is called Yggdrasil, and the gods live in the branches, watching us mere mortals down below. In Egypt, holy sycamore guards the threshold between life and death, and the Mayans believe that the tree of life supports the heavens. The Herero people of South West Africa believe that the spirit tree has magical powers and that the first people climbed up the roots from the underworld to dwell on Earth.
I have always been fascinated by these stories, and trees hold a very special place in my heart. They are so majestic, with their roots entombed deep in the earth and their branches stretching up towards the heavens. So I thought I’d repurpose a bicycle wheel to make one and remind us that “Everything is connected. All religions, all cultures, and all people.”
And I am over the moon with how it turned out.
What you need to make a tree of life
To make the tree of life, you’ll need a bicycle rim and a roll of 12 gauge black jewelry wire. A 12 gauge wire is about 2 mm thick (1/12″). I love using jewelry wire to create art. It’s super easy to work with. If you can’t find jewelry wire, baling wire will work too. It’s just a little more difficult to twist. The amount you use will depend on the size of your bicycle wheel or whatever round form you use. You also need some snips to cut the wire.
How to upcycle a bicycle wheel into the tree of life
If the rim still has the spokes remove them first.
Lightly sand the bicycle rim to remove any rust marks and wipe it down before painting the rim black.
Measure the diameter of the rim and cut the jewelry wire into pieces that are about 1 3/4 times as long as the diameter of the rim. You’ll need about 60 to 70 pieces in total. The more pieces you cut, the wider the tree trunk will be.
Place all the strips of wire together and twist them tightly just off-center from where the middle line would be to form the trunk. Place the twisted wire strips over the bicycle rim to check if you’re happy with the trunk length. If you look at a photo of a real tree, the trunk isn’t really that high in relation to the rest of the tree, so don’t twist the wire too far up. You won’t have enough to make the branches and roots later 😉
Once you’re happy, split the shorter wires into five groups. Don’t worry about trying to make the groups the same thickness; it will add to the organic look of the tree later 😉 Then simply twist and split, twist and split to form the roots. Try to ensure you twist the wires in the same direction, so you don’t unravel a previous twist. Keep placing the tree of life on the rim to check if you’re happy with the form and adapt as you go along.
Do the same for the branches. Let some of the wires overlap and add a few kinks to the wire or bend them to mimic how branches grow on trees. Every tree will look different, so don’t worry about making it perfect. The one we have at our little round house has shallow roots and long upward-facing branches.
To attach the tree of life to the bicycle rim, push some of the wire branches and roots into the holes where the spokes would have gone and twist to secure.
And hang her up.
We hung ours using a bit of twine.
And added a swing on one of the wire branches we made from a toy car’s wheel. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you could always make this miniature porch swing to hang instead 😉
Oh, and by the way, save those wire offcuts. They can be used to make awesome wire art or this super easy photo holder. The leftovers can also be turned into a kitty memorial and twirled into ladybird spots.
I would love to know what you think. Do you also feel a special connection with the Tree of Life?
If you like the idea of repurposing a bicycle wheel to make a tree of life, don’t forget to pin it for later.
BTW, if you don’t have any jewelry wire, you can make a Tree of Life using T-shirt yarn too. You can get that tutorial here. Want to try your hand at some other wire art projects? Here are a few to get you started:
- Gorgeous wire dresses
- Art Deco wire birdcage
- Writing with wire
- Creative wire picture frames
- Matilda the Spider’s web
If you’d like to make one and don’t want to go through all that trouble of finding the materials, I’ve got you covered. Disclosure: If you click the links below, we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry; it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and craft tutorials for you.
Or if you’d rather buy than DIY 😉
Wishing you lots of love and peace always. Thank you for popping in for a visit.