This week I finalized the branches of the tree and left them out to dry completely. I had left a couple to dry on Wednesday, so on Friday I was able to go in with some sandpaper to refine the edges and corners and make sure the geometry of the branches really stood out. Unfortunately, the smaller branches that I formed around the high-temp wire cracked when they shrunk around the wire. However, I will fire them anyway to see how they turn out, and if they don't work, it won't be any great loss. My plan for the foliage is to make it out of a wire - hopefully a thin-ish and shiny wire that I can manipulate to create a kind of canopy effect.
Next I have to choose whether to construct a frame from which to suspend the tree, or just rip the canvas off the frame for my abstract expressionist practice painting.