This tutorial will take you step-by-step through the process of making a necklace pendant (or earring charm) with just copper wire and a glass mosaic tile.
It will incorporate basic wire weaving techniques, but you don't have to have jewellery-making experience to give this a go :)
You will need:
- A glass mosaic tile; these are usually supplied on a net or with some other backing that doesn't look that attractive. On mine, these was adhesive from the mesh on the back. I later chose to cover mine with felt, but I think a better way would have been to sand/polish the back instead.
The best thing about using mosaic tiles is that there are so many different colours and pretty effects to choose from, and they are usually inexpensive.
- 2 thicknesses of copper wire; One for the main shape, and a thinner one to do the weaving with. I am using 20 gauge (0.8mm) for the main frame and 26 gauge (0.4mm) for the weaving. 18 gauge would also be an appropriate choice for the frame, and you could use very fine 28 gauge wire for the weaving if you preferred.
- Wire cutters
- Pliers; I'm using my jewellery pliers for this. Any flat or blunt nose pliers would work - you just need to bend 90 degree corners in the wire, and do a little bit of shaping.
- Small piece of felt (optional)
Step 1: Cutting and Bending the Wire
You will need to cut out 2 pieces of 20 gauge copper wire the same length. The length you need will be calculated by measuring the perimeter of the tile, and then adding at least 10cm (4").
Next, use your flat/blunt nose pliers to bend 2 right-angles in the wire, as shown in the picture. Do the first bend after about 5cm (2") from the end of the wire, then the next bend after half the width of the tile.
You want this wire to wrap snugly around the tile, with a 5cm length sticking up from the centre.
Step 2: Weaving the Bail
This first bit of weaving is going to create the bail at the top of the tile.
First, wrap your thinner wire around one piece of your thicker wire 3 times. Start from the end of the short wire section and work inwards.
Put your second piece of thicker wire, that is identical to the first, right next to it and line up the bends in the wire. You're now going to weave the two thicker pieces of wire together.
Wrap the thin wire 3 times around the second piece of thick wire. Keep the two thick wire next to each other and lined up if you can. Starting the weaving can be a bit awkward and fiddly. You can put painter's tape around the wires to keep them together and lined up if that helps you.
Then follow the diagram I've made to continue weaving down to the first bend in the wire. Depending on the size of the bail you want, you will want to weave for about 3-4cm (1.2-1.6").
Do 2 wraps with the thin wire on one thick wire, then 2 wraps on the other thick wire and so on. Between each thicker wire you will change direction with your wrapping i.e. 2 wraps clockwise on one wire, 2 wraps anti-clockwise on the other wire...
P.S. Whenever you are weaving, you will need to regularly use your pliers to carefully push your woven copper strands together so the wire wraps are touching. You want the weaving to be as tight and as closely woven as possible without loose bits.
Step 3: Weaving the Frame
At the bend in the wire, it's time to change weaving pattern for the frame section.
To do this, start by wrapping one thick wire 5 times. Then follow the weaving diagram. The next step is wrapping both thick wires 3 times, then the opposing thick wire 5 times, then both wires 3 times, then back to the beginning of the pattern.
Step 4: Complete the Frame
Keep going with the weaving, and when you've done enough weaving to go around another corner of the tile, you can bend the woven wire at right angles to snugly fit around the tile edge.
Stop when you have completed the full square frame and reached the base of the bail. Don't stop short of this point; weave right up to and maybe slightly past the base of the bail, otherwise there may be a little gap.
Step 5: Wire Wrapping
Cut the excess thin wire off and 'tuck in' the ends out of the way if you need to (you don't want the ends sticking out and scratching you basically).
Cut the excess thicker wires off the end of the bail section, to leave a few mm that you can bend over and 'squash' to again hide the scratchy ends.
Use round nose pliers to turn the bail section over into a loop.
Put the end of the woven frame across the front of the bail.
Take one thicker wire from the end of the woven frame to the back of the tile, so the bail splits the two thick wires up.
Hard to explain so please see the photos!
Take the thick wire at the back of the tile horizontally behind the bail, then wrap it around the base of the bail a couple of times. Bend the rest of this wire down the back of the tile.
Step 6: Wire Loop Embellishment
The next step is to finish the thick wire that is at the front of the tile.
To do this, I take my round nose pliers and loop the wire over 3 times in the same direction to form a 3-loop embellishment. If you use a longer piece of wire from the beginning, at this point you'll have more to work with and could make a bigger or more ornate design. I think since it's a green tile, a large leaf shape could look cool.
The tile should be snugly fitting, and no glue should be required to keep the tile in place.
You can manipulate the wire frame now to make it fit the tile the best it can, and to make sure the frame has nice straight sides and sharp 90 dgeree corners.
Step 7: Backing
I mentioned in the intro that I should have just finished the back of the tile to make it smooth and remove the adhesive marks on the back. Then at this point I would just finish the wire at the back with a little swirl or spiral.
But I didn't do that so I instead glued some felt to the back. I used felt that was too thin really and a thicker/stiffer felt baize would have been better I think. Still, I live and learn!
Step 8: Finished!
So now you have finished your pendant and you can add a matching chain and clasp.
Thanks for reading :)