Introduction: Amazing Wire Weave Pendant
While I'm expert at some forms of wire wrapping, wire weaving is out of my comfort zone. I only make a couple of woven pieces a year and I never do anything too complicated. So, as I write this instructable I'll be heading into new jewelry making territory. (Well, for me anyway.)
I've got wire and loads of wonderful tools as well as some beautiful cabochons. My plan is to make an intricate pendant using a combination of techniques for wire weaving I already know and ideas Ive found on Instructables. I'll use the tools and materials I already have in my studio, my prior knowlege of wirework, and Instructables tutorials for reference and inspiration, to come up with a new design.
The purpose of this tutorial is to give you tips and techniques to make a really beautiful, creative piece of jewelry. I'll include plenty of photos of my progress and explain what I change from the reference tutorials. This instructable assumes an intermediate to advanced skill level, but don't worry if you're just getting started. I will refer to my own wire wrapping basics tutorial and to watchmeflyy for some weaving basics.
Remix Contest - Original Project:
This instructable is also by watchmeflyy and has useful techniques for creating an amazing piece of jewelry:
Step 1: What You Need
I will be using three different metals for this pendant. Copper for the base structure and both fine gauge silver and gold-filled wire for the weaving. I'd like to weave in some crystals as well, but I'll have to see how they'll look first. I've chosen a 25mm round rutilated quartz as my center stone.
About 25’ total of 24 - 26g Round Dead Soft Wire (gold and silver)
4 pcs, 1.5” of 20g Half Round Half Hard Wire (silver)
6 pcs, 11” of 18g Round Dead Soft Wire (copper)
1 25mm round cabochon
Chain nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
Mandrel for the bezel (metal, if you have one)
Crimping pliers (optional, but nice)
Nylon or rawhide hammer or mallet (optional, but nice)
Dremel (optional, but very useful if buffing a patina)
Ruler, Marker, Tape (all optional)
You can use any kind of nontoxic metal wire, though I prefer to by jewelry grade wire online. Wire Sculpture and Rio Grande are excellent sources. If you're just beginning, I recommend copper or bronze. They're inexpensive and look great with polish or patina.
Tools are very important. I used cheap jewelry pliers (~$10) for a while, but once I was sure I would stay with wire wrapping, I got good ones (~$50). It made a huge difference, especially in how tired my hands would get. If you do this, hang on to your cheap tools - there's always a use pliers you won't worry about.
Step 2: Getting Started
Begin by collecting your tools and wire.
Cut the 18 g and the half round wire into pieces as specified. Don't cut the thin weaving wire yet. (I'll cut pieces off the spool as I go. This will also allow me to add a crystals or pearls later if I want.)
Step 3: Bezel
Time to make the bezel for the stone. I don't measure for this. I'm happy just to estimate. But if you want to get out a ruler and a marker, now is the time.
Group the 18 gauge wires into two sets of three. Bind the centers of each set together as I show in Steps 3 & 4 of my Wire Wrapped Pendant (wire wrap basics) tutorial. https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-Wrapping-Basi...
It will be a little harder with the round wires, so use tape if you want to keep the wires more secure. Make only one wrap on each bundle at the center.
Step 4: Bezel
Each bundle of 3 wires is one side of the bezel. The center of the cab will line up with the center wraps. One on each side. Follow steps 6 & 7 in my basics tutorial with the changes noted below the link:
1) You don't need a 3" piece of wire. Use can the 1.5" half round. However, I often use the wire right off the spool for my wraps.
2) Very important: Make the same kind of wraps on the top and bottom to join all 6 wires together. This bezel will look like a hard candy wrapper, sticking out at both ends, until the weaving is underway.
Tip: If your cabochon is round, set the bezel on a ring mandrel. Hammer with rawhide or nylon for a perfect circle. Try on the actual cab for fit. Hammer on the mandrel until it's perfect. (Don't flatten the heavy wires.)
Okay, this should complete the base - the part I'm comfortable with. Now on to the weaving.
Step 5: Wire
I'm using a combination of silver 24 g and gold-filled 26 g wire for the weaving. You can't really see the difference, but the thinner wire is much easier to weave. I just happen to have much more 24 g wire on hand.
Step 6: Basics of Wire Weaving
Simply put, wire weaving is just looping thin wire around a heavy wire frame in a pattern.
What changes is how many times you loop the thin weaving wire around one base wire before looping it onto another base wire and what direction you go in.
The weaving wire can be brought over or under the base wires in any pattern you like. Every pattern has a different look and many are used to weave particular shapes, like the big swoop that starts the weave in this project.
For a project like this, it generally doesn't make a lot of difference what order you weave in as long as you can still get to the wires you need. I could have just as easily started with the bail or the bottom coils.
Step 7: Start Weaving
For basic weaving instructions please see watchmefly's instructable, steps 4 and 6, but don't cut the wire:
Step 6 shows how to weave an arch. I changed this pattern as follows:
I started weaving by wrapping the wire end close to the stone about 6 times. (leave a tail of wire sticking out) Then I went back and forth with the weaving wire making 5 loops between the outer wires and 1 loop on the inner wire. (watchmeflyy shows a 2 loop/no loop pattern.)
Once I got the hang of it, I started to change up the pattern. I generally work very freeform, like a painter. I decided to twist the inner wire back on itself at the top and change out the wire color. Also, I worked off the wire spool. Meaning, I didn't cut my weaving wire until I was done with a section. I do a lot of detail work and filigree with my wire wrapping and want to leave my options open.
When I do cut the weaving wire ends, I leave the tails long. At least an inch, in case I want to add beads and details later.
Step 8: Progress
Working off the spool.
Step 9: Don't Forget Your Tools!
While you can weave with just your bare hands, you'll get a much cleaner and more professional result with the right tools.
I used pliers to shape the base wire (18 g copper) as I worked. If you don't do this, the heavy wire tends to lose its smooth curves. Straighten out kinks with the flat nosed pliers and gently rebend. Make the tight curves round with the round nosed pliers.
Chain nose pliers are useful for pulling the weaving wire through difficult spots.
You'll need your wire cutters handy every time you change out wires.
A crimping plier is helpful for tucking in loose ends (tails).
A rawhide or nylon hammer or mallet is great for shaping and hardening wire if needed.
Step 10: More Weaving
As I wove more, I started to make up patterns to suit the base shapes I was creating. In places where the base wire won't show behind other weavings, I used plain, single loops until the new weave could be seen.
I used more or fewer than the original 5 loops around the curves depending on the tightness of the curve. Sometimes I adjusted the numbers as I went around because a curve was tight in one spot, subtle in another.
Sometimes I weave with no loops at all. Just over, under, over under, etc.
I'm planning to make the bail with a very simple over, under, one loop in between, pattern. The bail should be very like the bottom of the key in the Key to You Heart instructable.
Step 11: Progress
What looks complicated is just more and more weaving. I have plenty of heavy base wires to shape and weave , so I could pretty much just keep on weaving until I run out. As I add more shapes, the weaving starts to get layered and look more and more intricate. However, the techniques stay the same and are fairly simple, so it looks harder than it is. Besides, the more I weave, the better I get at it.
Step 12: Coils
When I make coils for my regular wire wrapped designs I often make long sections at a time with a coiling jig. In the future I may experiment with this method. For this weaving project, though, I want the coils to be very tight and close to the base wire so I will wrap the base wire by hand.
To do this, finish your weave on the side you want to coil. Then continue to wind loops around the base wire on that side only. Wind for a 1/2 inch and compress the loops by holding the base wire with pliers and pressing down on the loops by hand. Continue in this way until you have covered the base wire as much as you want. Don't cut yet. Shape or spiral the way you want and use the extra wires to secure this element. Cut and tuck ends if you want. (Coiled wires can be shaped or spiraled back on themselves for a variety of design elements. In this project, I've done both.)
Crimping pliers can be very helpful for rounding, smoothing and tucking wire on your coils.
Step 13: Secure the Weave
As I weave, I'm securing the design to the bezel whenever the curves get close enough. I'm doing this in a few ways, depending on what is easiest and won't show:
1) Take the weaving wire and run it through the bezel wire (lift gently if needed) once or twice. Continue the weave.
2) Wrap the base (18 g) wire around the bezel wire and cut excess. This is harder, so use whichever pliers fit the space best and give you the best grip.
3) Secure the base wire or weaving wire to another section that's already secured.
Crimping pliers are great for tucking wire ends around other wires.
Step 14: Adding Crystals and Beads
I've done enough weaving that I want to see what a few crystals will look like. (I ended up using 4mm, Swarovski, clear AB bicones.) I string them on the thin wire and if I like them either wrap the other end around a free section of base wire to secure or cut the tails down to about 3/4" and make a rosette.
Flatten the rosette gently against the crystal or bead so it won't catch on things.
This is probably the most common design element in wire wrapping. You make a rosette by using your round nose pliers to make a tiny round loop at the end of a wire. Then wind the loop into a tight spiral using flat nosed pliers. To do this hold the wire in one hand and rotate the wires in the other hand a quarter turn at a time.
Note: The thinner the wire, the harder it is to make rosettes that will hold. 24 g wire works well, 26 g is doable, I wouldn't bother with 28 g.
Other Note: Yes, those photos are from a different project.
Step 15: Sketching With Wire
After I get the basic forms down and decide on details like crystal color, I need to plan out the rest of my design. You can see here how I've gently bent the base wire into shape so I can plan the next weaves. I do this to check the balance of the design and make sure I have the right wires allocated for my plan. I'm aiming for a cascade feel and I think I'm getting there.
The two wires at the top will be used for my bail. I want it to be silver, show above the top swoops and be finished with a simple weave. I don't know at this point if I will cut the wires short or use the excess for more weaving. I have a tendency to overdo things, so it may be hard to know when to stop weaving.
Step 16: Weaving Right Along
Weave the wires you just planned out.
Also, start to cut and tuck the ends of wires that you're sure won't be used for anything else.
When you're completely done with a wire, it should be cut very short and either wound around another wire or tucked in to a secure place. Run your fingers over the wire end to make sure it's smooth.
Step 17: More Sketching
This time on paper.
I used good old pencil and paper to work out the final details of my design. And keep me from forgetting my plan when I set my project down. It would be pretty bad to cut the wrong wires or head in the wrong direction at this point.
Step 18: And Still More Weaving
Following my sketch, I work on the final weaves and coils. Most of the ends are cut at this point. I'll be done soon!
Make sure you have no unplanned bare spots or sharp edges. It's not too late to cover problems, but it will be soon.
Step 19: Labor of Love
I've spent about 6 hours wrapping and weaving and coiling so far.
Step 20: Finishing
Make sure all wires are now cut and tucked in. Press loose ends in place with pliers.
Check for anything scratchy. Sand rough bits with files or sandpaper.
Note: I run the back and front of my pendants over my hand and some fabric to check for problem spots.
Step 21: Ready to Wear
I'm going to polish this pendant and seal it.
When I do an all copper or all silver woven pendant, I'll add a patina, which should be really pretty.
Step 22: And Ready to Enjoy
Here are some additional views of the finished pendant.
Please let me see what you make.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.