Introduction: Carnival Pendant - Wire Weave Tutorial - Weaving Swirl Shapes
At certain angles, the pendants made in this style remind me of the tilt'a'whirl my friends and I used to ride at the fair every year when I was a kid. At other angles, for some strange reason, I just want to tie dye them. They make me remember all those times when I would burst out laughing for no reason at all, and keep laughing and laughing and laughing. For me, they evoke a feeling of sheltered innocence. The kind of freedom you feel as a child running through the county fair, looking for the next “thrill” to ride, or twirling round and round in circles until you become so dizzy you fall, laughing with glee.
This tutorial teaches you how to make a relatively simple border wrap and embellish it whimsical woven swirls. So far I have not been able to duplicate, exactly, any of the designs I have made in this style. For that reason, please do not think of this tutorial as directions that are set in stone. They are really more of a set of techniques combined in a certain way to achieve a certain type of look. These pendants can end up elegant and graceful, fun and spirited, modern and industrial, or anything in between!
For the pendant in the photos, I am using round wire for the frame wires. You can also use square wire if you prefer. Also, if you are not able to get half round wire in your area, you can use 22g round wire that has been hammered to slightly flatten it. Just be sure to hammer it as evenly as possible all the way down the full length of the wire.
You will need to use my Basic Weaving Techniques tutorial as a reference to complete this project. You can find it here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-Jewelry-Making-Basic-Weaving-Techniques/
• 25’ of 28g Round Dead Soft Wire
• 7” of 20g Half Round Half Hard Wire
• 54” of 20g Round Dead Soft Wire
• 1 25mm round cabochon
• Chain nose pliers
• Round nose pliers
• Wire cutters
• Flat nose pliers
• Bent nose pliers
• Tape (optional)
Cut the 20g wire into 6 equal pieces (about 9” long). Separate the wires into 2 groups of 3 wires. Using the tape, wrap each group in three areas. One wrap on each end and one in the middle. Take care to be sure that the bundles, when wrapped, lay flat and no wires are crossing.
Determine the center of each bundle and mark the spot using the marker. As you can see, I had to mark mine on the tape. That’s ok. You can transfer the mark to the wire later.
On both bundles, measure 20mm from the center mark, and put another mark there on the wires.
Hold the two bundles together making sure the marks are lined up. Wrap them together with the half round wire. Start wrapping at the line made in the previous step, and wrap going away from the center.
Just above the binding from the previous step, bend the wires outward at a 90º angle.
Remove the tape from one side and transfer the center mark to the wire. (If you need to, you can measure 20mm away from the top of the binding).
Bind the wires together at the center mark. This time, try to keep the wraps centered on the mark.
Repeat steps 6&7 on the opposite side.
Shape the wires around the cabochon. If you have something else that is the exact same size as the cabochon to shape the wires around (such as a pill bottle, mandrel, or wire wrapping template) that can make this step much easier. However, you need to use the actual cabochon for the next step.
Find where the wires intersect on the side directly opposite the first binding and mark all the wires with the marker.
Remove the wires from the cabochon and bend the wires outward at the marks from the previous step at approximately a 90º angle.
Fit the wires around the stone, holding the wires together at the bend you just made, to see if it frames the cabochon correctly. It should have a snug fit, but not so snug that the wires sort of “climb up” the sides of the cabochon. You made need to adjust the bends a little bit to get the right fit. Just be careful not to over work the wire while doing the adjustments.
Bundle the wires together so that you now have a circle with “stems” coming out of both the top and bottom.
Using your bent nose pliers, (or needle nose pliers if you prefer) bend the wires outward on each side of each of the bindings so that you create a sort of basket for the cabochon to sit in.
As you can see in this photo, the bindings started to come a little bit loose. If this happens to you, you can simply push it back down with your pliers. You may have to do this several times as you go.
Set the cabochon into the basket, flat side against the wires bent out in the last step.
Bend the wires on the front of the stone inward and over the stone the same way you did the wires for the back.
As you can see, mine isn’t exactly perfect. Fortunately the swirls will hide all of that.
At this point you need to decide which side will be the top and which side will be the bottom. There should be almost an equal amount of wire at both sides, so the choice is entirely up to you.
Bend the two wires in the back of the top of the pendant backwards at about a 90º angle. You don’t need to be precise here. You’re just moving them out of the way right now.
Holding the two front wires together, bend them over to the right hand side. Again, just getting them out of the way.
Now, bend the last two wires over to the left hand side.
Cut a 4’ piece of 28g wire. Wrap it around the top wire on the left hand side of the pendant about 5 times.
In this picture, I haven’t cut the tail wire yet (ok, so, I really forgot). You can go ahead and cut that now if you like. It will be easier than trying to reach it later.
*Note: At this point, you need to refer to the Basic Weaving Techniques tutorial. You will be using a technique similar to Weave 4 in that lesson (weaving around a curve). The main difference here is that, because the wires are farther apart, and the curve is more pronounced, you will wrap the wire 5 times around the outer curve instead of just once.
Bring the wire down between the two frame wires, around the bottom wire, then back up and between the frame wires again, and to the back of the top wire.
At this point you need to shape the frame wires. Bring the bottom frame wire (the inner curve wire) down and across the front of the pendant, keeping a small curve at the base of the wire. Shape the top frame wire to a curve that is wider and looser than the bottom wire.
The exact curve here is not that important. What is important is that you like the shape of it. As I said earlier on in the lesson, this is more of a collection of techniques and a way to combine them.
Also, keep in mind that you will continue to shape the frame wires as you weave. This makes it easier to get into the spaces to do the weaving than it would be if you shaped the entire frame first.
Back to the weaving again (the fun part).
Wrap the 28g wire around the top frame wire 5 times.
As in step 21, bring the wire down between the two frame wires, around the bottom wire, then back up and between the frame wires again, and to the back of the top wire.
Keep weaving in this manner until you have a section that is about ¼ of a circle.
While you weave, keep pushing the weave together by pushing on the wire with your fingernail (or with the edge of a thin metal ruler if you don’t want to mess up you manicure). You will need to do this throughout the entire project.
Now you need to shape the curve a little more.
Bring the inner curve frame wire upwards to sharpen the curve a little bit.
Bend the outer curve frame wire a little bit more too, keeping the wires about the same distance from each other as they were before.
Continue weaving around the curve as before until you are almost reach the binding wire at the top of the pendant.
Now you will need to refer to the Basic Weaving Techniques lesson again. You will be using weave 3.
Using the weave mentioned above, and keeping the wires parallel to each other, weave a short section. You will stop where the outer curve wire reaches the top of the cabochon.
Now you will need to shape the wires again. Shape the wire that was the inner curve frame wire so that it follows the edge of the cabochon.
Shape the other wire so that it is almost parallel to the first wire, following the same curve.
*Note: at this point, the inner and outer curve wires trade places. What was the inner curve wire before is now the outer curve wire, and vice versa.
Continue weaving around the curve. Because this is a milder curve, you will be wrapping the outer curve wire (remember, the wires switched places in the previous step) only twice on each weave. You will be wrapping the inner curve wire once on each weave (this is actually a combination of weaves 3 and 4 in the Basic Weaving Techniques tutorial). Continue weaving until you are about 1/8” away from the top of the binding wire on the side of the pendant.
Now you need to shape the wires again. Bring what is now the inner curve wire upwards to sharpen the curve. Let the outer curve wire stay along the edge of the cabochon.
Because the frame is widening again, weave this section the same way you wove the beginning of the curve (5 wraps on the outer curve wire).
You only need to weave a small section here. Just until the weave reaches the top of the binding wire on the side of the pendant.
At this point, bend the outer curve wire to the back of the pendant.
Using what’s left of the weaving wire, coil the inner curve wire to a length of 5/8”.
Cut the 28g wire close to the frame wire and press it against the frame wire with your pliers. Cut the frame wire to about 1/8” away from the end of the coil. File the frame wire flat (or rounded with a wire rounder/cup burr).
Spiral the coiled wire and press is against the cabochon. Let it overlap the weave just a little to hide the inside of the curve.
Turn the pendant over. Position the 2nd frame wire so that it is over the closest “basket wire” that is used to hold the cabochon in on the back.
As you can see, I forgot to clean the adhesive off the back of this stone. Um.... Ooops.
Cut the wire so that there is only about 4-5mm extending past the basket wire. File the end of the wire.
Using your round nose pliers, create a small hook at the end of the frame wire.
Lift the basket wire just a little bit, and insert the end of the hook between the basket wire and the stone.
Using your needle nose pliers or bent nose pliers (whichever is more comfortable for you) close the hook so that is wraps around the basket wire.
Turn the pendant back over to the front again.
Begin shaping the two front wires so that they make a curve in the opposite direction as the first woven swirl you just finished.
Cut another 4’ piece of 28g wire and wrap the end around the outer curve wire 5 times (it may be easier to make the wraps towards the end of the wire and slide it into place afterwards). Don’t forget to cut the tail wire off of the beginning of the wrap.
Start weaving the same way you wove the first swirl (5 wraps on the outer curve wire). Shape the outer curve wire as you go, until you have about a half of a circle complete.
Pull the inner curve wire around so that it makes a circle, meeting itself where the weave was started.
Continue weaving in the same fashion, shaping the outer wire and making adjustments to the inner wire as you go, until you have a full circle.
Using what is left of the weaving wire, coil 5/8” of the inner curve wire.
Cut the coiling wire and press it against the frame wire.
Cut the frame wire so that it is about 1/8” above the coil. File it smooth.
Spiral the coiled wire and press it into the center of the swirl.
Bring the outer curve wire downward behind the swirl you just made.
Turn the pendant over.
Cut the wire you just pushed to the back so that it is about 3/8-1/2” long (after the weave).
Curve the wire downward and wrap it around the base of the swirl, pressing it into the space between the 2nd swirl and the binding wire.
Bend the two back wires up straight again. You will be using these for the bail.
Decide how wide you want the bail to be. On this pendant, it will be hidden behind the swirls so I am going to keep it narrow. If your swirls aren’t big enough to hide the bail, you may be better off with a wider bail. The width you want the bail to be will determine how wide to space the wires.
Cut about 2’ of 28g wire. Wrap it around one of the two bail wires a few times.
Since this one is going to be a narrow bail, I’m just using weave 3 from the Basic Weaving Techniques lesson. If you would prefer a different type of weave, that is ok too.
Weave a section of about 1”. You can make this part a little bit longer if you need a larger bail for a thicker cord.
Curve the woven section of the wires backwards so that the two ends of the weave meet.
On this one I have pushed the bail backwards a little bit to make it easier to work the next step. If you do this too, just make sure to push it back into place once you are finished with the bail.
Wrap the wires together at the base of the bail. I wrapped about 5 times for this one.
On the back of the pendant again, wrap the 28g wire around one of the 20g wires just below the binding from the previous step. Cut the coiling wire and press it close to the frame wire.
Do NOT cut either of the frame wires yet.
Cut another 4’ piece of 28g wire. Wrap it around one of the wires coming out at the bottom of the back of the bail (the one that wasn’t wrapped in the last step. Push the 28g wire up against the bottom of the.
Shape the frame wires so that one of them is in front of the pendant and the other on is going along the edge of the cabochon.
This step is shown here from both the front and back so you can get a better view.
Begin weaving using Weave 3 of the Basic Weaving Techniques tutorial. Weave a short section, just to where it looks like the weave is straddling the front basket wire holding the cabochon in place when viewed from the side.
At his point you need to start shaping the wires into a curve. This curve is going to go towards the back. Bring the wire along the edge (the inner curve wire) upwards at a sharper curve than the other wire (outer curve wire).
Weave this curve the same way you did the other large curves, with 5 wraps on the outer curve wire for each weave. Keep going until the weave looks like it is along the edge of the pendant.
Shape the wires so that they continue the curve, allowing the wires to slowly come close to each other toward the end of the curve. For this pendant, the wires ended up about 1/8” away from each other. That measurement does not have to be exact though.
Keep weaving as before until you have what looks to be about a ½ circle.
Coil the inner curve wire with the end of the weaving wire to about 5/8” long. Cut the coil wire and press it close to the 20g wire. Cut the 20g wire 1/8” above the coil and file it smooth.
Spiral the coiled wire and press it against the center of the swirl.
Bend the outer curve wire behind the pendant.
Cut it so that it extends only about 4-5mm past the basket wire that it lays across.
Create a hook and close it around the basket wire the same way you did the other one.
Turn the pendant upside down.
You will be working with the wires that are in the back first, so you will need to bend the two front sets of wires out of the way. Holding the 2 front wires together, curve them to the left hand side GENTLY. You have to be careful not to overwork the wires while you are moving them out of the way. Do the same to the second set of two wires, bending them to the right hand side.
For this part it will be easier to see what you are doing if you work from the back of the pendant.
Cut a 5’ piece of 28g wire and wrap it around the base of one of the wires 5 times. Cut the beginning tale off of the coil.
Curve the wires to the right hand side (if working from the front of the pendant, it will be the left hand side). Keep them spaced as far as you would like them to be, depending on how big you want this part of the curve to be.
Turn the pendant over again and start weaving around the curve.
Weave until you have about ¼ of a circle.
The weave should be pushed together better than it is in the picture. I just wasn’t able to hold onto it while taking this shot.
*Note: You may have to move the front wires out of the way as I did here. Just be careful not to overwork them or they could break.
Curve the wires inward a little bit more, then continue weaving.
Weave until you have a ½ circle.
After the half circle is complete, keep the wires parallel and start weaving using weave 3 of the Basic Weaving Techniques lesson. Keep weaving until it is even with the edge of the cabochon.
Curve the wires outward to create another swirl going in the opposite direction as the first half swirl you’ve already made with these frame wires. The only real rule there is here is that the outside of this curve has to meet up with the outer frame wire of the curve on the opposite side of the pendant (in this case, the very first swirl that you wove for this pendant).
Begin weaving around the curve again the same way the other curves were done.
Once you are about half way around the curve (about ¼ circle) bend the wire that is inside the curve upwards. Check to see if you need to make any adjustments to the outer curve wire to be sure that it will meet the outer curve wire of the opposite side as mentioned in step 77.
For this part I’ve turned the pendant right-side up again so it is easier to see.
Continue weaving until you reach the point where the two outer curve wires meet.
Bring the weaving wire up from the bottom of the curve as if you were still weaving and wrap it one full time around the outer curve wire.
It should be pushed closer to the rest of the weave. I’ve let it come away from the weave for this picture so you can see it easier.
Bring the wire up over the outer curve wire from the swirl on top, insert it behind the outer curve wire from the top swirl and bring it back up between the two wires as if you were weaving the two wires together.
Wrap the wire once around the outer curve wire from the bottom swirl.
Repeat step 82.
Bring the weaving wire back down to the inner curve wire as if you were continuing the weave.
Shape the frame wires so that they make almost a full circle, allowing them to come closer together as they reach the end of the curve.
Continue weaving around the curve till you come just short of a full circle.
Coil the weaving wire onto the inner curve wire for about 5/8”. Cut the coil wire close to the frame wire and press is tight with your pliers.
Cut the frame wire 1/8” from the top of the coil and file it smooth.
Spiral the coiled wire and press it into the center of the swirl.
Bend the outer curve wire to the back of the pendant. Position it so that it crosses the closest basket wire.
Cut the outer curve wire so that it extends about 4-5mm past the basket wire.
Attach the outer frame wire to the basket wire on the back of the pendant the same way the other two were attached.
At this point you will be working with the middle set of two wires.
Cut a 5’ piece of 28g wire and wrap it around the frame wire on the right hand side 5 times. Cut the tail wire.
Shape the wires into the desired curve shape. For this one I’m making it a little bit smaller than the curve from the last swirl on this pendant, however, you can make yours the same size or larger if you like.
Begin weaving around this curve the same way you wove the other curves. Stop when the weave reaches the edge of the cabochon on the outer curve wire.
Weave a small section using Weave 3 of the Basic Weaving Techniques tutorial. Stop when you reach the wire used to hold the cabochon in place on the front of the pendant.
On this one you’ll be reversing the curve the same way we did on the last swirl. Again, the only rule is that the outside of this curve has to meet up with the outer frame wire of the curve on the top of this side of the pendant
Weave around the curve, continuing to shape the frame wires as needed, until you reach the point where the two outer curve wires meet.
Attach the two outer frame wires together the same way the outer frame wires were attached on the other side of the pendant (steps 81-85).
Continue shaping and weaving the curve until you have a full circle.
Coil the inner curve wire with the weaving wire. You’ll need a coil that is about 5/8” long. Cut the coil wire and press it close to the frame wire.
Cut the frame wire 1/8” above the coil and file it smooth.
Spiral the coiled wire and press it into the center of the swirl.
Turn the pendant over and bring the outer curve wire across the back. Position it so that it lays across the nearest basket wire.
Cut the outer curve wire about 4-5mm past the basket wire.
Attach the wire to the basket wire.
Now you will be working with the two front wires.
You will need to unbend them carefully so that they don’t get brittle and break.
Cut a 4’ piece of 28g wire and attach it to the wire that you choose to be the outer curve by wrapping it 5 times. For this pendant, I am going to use the right hand wire as the outer curve wire.
Psst.... don’t forget to cut the tail wire. ;)
Start shaping the curve the same way the other curves were begun.
Weave this curve, shaping as you go along, until you have a complete circle. It is difficult to see the exact shape of the swirl in this picture because of the wires behind it. On the inset picture you will see a red line that follows the shape of the outer curve. The vertical line is to show you where the ends of the outer curve are.
Using the end of the weaving wire, coil a length of 1½” on the outer curve wire. Cut the coil wire and press the end close to the frame wire.
Do NOT cut the frame wire yet.
Using another piece of wire, make a coil on the Inner frame wire that is 1½” long. Cut the tail ends and press them close to the frame wire.
Again, do NOT cut he frame wire yet.
You will be working with the inner frame wire first.
Carefully make a swirl with the inner curve wire that will cover just the center of the woven swirl you just made.
The insert on the picture shows the shape of the swirl outlined in red to help you see it better.
Cut the frame wire about 1/8” inch from the coil. File it smooth.
Create a spiral underneath the swirl you made in step 112.
Now, with the outer curve wire, make a loop above the swirl from step 112.
Cut the frame wire about 1/8” past the end of the coil. File it smooth.
Spiral the end of the outer frame wire and place the spiral wherever you like. For this one, I put it beside the loop.
Sit back, take a deep breath and admire your work. It’s finally done!