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Picture of Wire-wrap Dragon Pendant with foil wings
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I love dragons and I love making things. I want to share how to make a metal dragon pendant with NO soldering, casting or hot work.
You will need:

Tools:
round nose pliers
chain nose or needle nose pliers (if they have ridges on the jaws, cover with masking tape to avoid marring the wire)
wire cutter or flush cutter
Awl or small, sharp nail or heavy t-pin
craft scissors (don't use your good sewing scissors because you will be cutting the metal foil - bad for quality scissors)
sand paper - 180 or 220 grit or emory board for finger nails

Supplies
2 seed beeds - about 2 mm diameter, size 10/0  (for eyes)
20 gauge wire - copper, brass, silver etc.
26 or 28 gauge wire (you can use up to 24 gauge but it is much harder get neat results)

heavy metal foil or thin sheet metal - 4 oz. copper foil, 36-38 gauge tooling foil, such as this http://www.dickblick.com/products/pure-metal-tooling-foil/ or use metal from clean soda pop cans.


optional: 32 gauge wire  

 
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Step 1: Cut out the wings

Picture of Cut out the wings
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Decide on wing style and size. Or, you can use trace the traditional batwing style wings that I used.
1.  Fold wing pattern in half (or design just one wing). 
2. Measure or eyeball the width and fold one edge of the metal sheet over a little wider than the wing width.
3. Place the shoulder side of the wing on the folded edge of the foil.  Secure pattern with tape or trace wing with a fine permanent marker (whatever kind can mark on metal).

*****  CAUTION: Metal foil can be sharp and give you a nasty 'paper-cut'.  Handle with care!  Hold the metal by the flat sides, not the sharp edges *****
 
4. Carefully cut around the outside of the wing pattern. DO NOT cut the folded edge, leave the wings attached on the shoulder side so they can be wired to the body.
5. Lightly sand the sharp edges of the cut foil, just enough to remove the sharp bits.

Step 2: Attach wing ribs with fine wire

Picture of Attach wing ribs with fine wire
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1. Look at your pair of wings and cut a pieces of 20 gauge wire that is 1-2 inches longer that the top edge of BOTH wings together (4 inches if you use the sample wing pattern)
2. Use round nose pliers to form a small loop on one end of the wire (I like to curl the loop 'up' toward the top edge of the wing, but you can curl it down for a different look).
3. Starting at one end, bend the wire to follow the top contour along the top fo both wings.  Hint: use tape to temporarily secure wire as you bend it.

SAFETY TIP:  hold onto the extra part of the wire before you cut it, then it will not go flying across the room or into your ere.

4 Cut wire off about 1/4 - 3/8 inch (3-4.5 mm) inch longer than the wings and curl the end to match the curl on the other wing.
5. Use the awl to punch lacing holes a scant 1/8 inch from the top edge (~2.5 mm) and 1/8 inch apart (3 mm).  Gently re-punch holes from the back side and use sand paper or emery board to smooth sharp edges.
6.  Cut a piece of 26 or 28 gauge wire, at least twice as long as top edge of wings, plus 1-2 inches (9 inches for sample wings).
7. Secure one end of 28 ga. wire to the 20 ga. wire (wrap twice aound loop at end of one wing) and tuck end under the rib wire.
8. Lace 20 ga. wire to the top edge of the wings.  Thread wire through first hole, around the 20 ga. wire, pull tight.  Pull slowly and watch to make sure the wire doesn't kink - you can stick your finger into the loops to help it close neatly and/or gently push the wire as needed to keep a nice loop as you tighten each stitch.  Continute lacing through each hole, always wrapping wire around the top of the 20 ga. wire., through the next hole etc. to opposite end of wing pair.
9.  Secure 28 ga. wire to end of wing (2 wraps and trim end of wire, tuck end under top rib).

Secondary ribs.
10.  Form small loop at end of 20 ga. wire
11. Place loop at scallop on lower edge of wing, curve wire to top joint of wing (elbow), use chain nose plier to bend rib to nest inside the top wing joint.  Curve wire down to second scallop on lower edge of wing.  trim 1/4 inch long and curl end.
12.  Punching lacing holes:  Hold or tape wing ribs in place, making sure that wires nest tightly at the wing joint.  Punch hole just below the wing joint.  Go down  scant 1/8" (3mm), shift to opposite side of wire rib, and punch hole.  Repeat until you reach bottom edge of wing (last hole should be no closer than 1/16 from bottom of wing - adjust spacing as needed).  Repeat for the other rib on the same wing.  
13. Start at bottom of one inner rib, secure 28 ga. wire with two loops, lace over bottom edge of wing and across the rib, down through the next hole, pull snug and continue lacing each time going over the rib wire to firmly secure it to the wing.  WATCH to prevent kinks in the wire. 
Elbow - wrap tightly to firmly nest the wire into the joint.  Continue down remaining rib.  Loop twice to secure at bottom of wing.  Trim wire ends neatly.  Sand any rough edges of wire or wing metal.
14. Repeat inner ribs for the other wing..  Trim wire and sand sharp edges smooth.

Step 3: Make the head

Picture of Make the head
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This is the hardest step, forming the head.  I've tried several variations and each produced a different 'personality' or expression. 
Basic formation is bending tight loops in the wire, twisting and flattening as needed.  Details are added with smaller gauge wire and seed beads for eyes.


 Head:  You need at least two loops, one for the upper jaw and another for the lower jaw.  You can also start with a single horn or two additional loops for ears.

1.Start with about 1 foot of 20 gauge wire.  With round nose pliers make a small loop about 2 inches (5 cm) from the end of the wire.  Make another small loop parallet to the first loop.  These are your TWO EARS.
2. Bend long end of wire 90 degrees and form a slightly larger loop for the UPPER JAW.  Make a second loop the same size or a little smaller to form the LOWER JAW.
3. Decide on jaw orientation.  The first set of pictures show a dragon head with the wide part of the jaws parallel to the ground.  This results in a dragon with a BLOCKY head (copper body dragon).  Twist the jaws 90 degrees so the loop is visible in side profile and you will have a NARROW headed dragon.
4.Twist wires once under the lower jaw to secure the head loops and form a NECK.

Step 4: Form the dragon body

Picture of Form the dragon body
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The body is basically a long, tapered loop filled in with coiled/wrapped finer wire (Edit 5/31/11:  You could also weave body, check out wire weaving stuff by Gailavira).

Body: 
1. Start at the head,  slide your finger about 2 inches down the wire, grasp wire with a chain or flat nose pliers and bend a TIGHT corner.  Use pliers to squash the loop flat, forming the POINTED end of the TAIL.
2.  Cut 2-2.5 feet of finer wire (26-28 gauge is best).  Secure one end at the tip of the tail - one or two wraps. 
3.  Start coiling the wire around the outside of the tail, around BOTH wire.  Use a tight, even twist for about 1/2 inch.  Make a securing wrap, once around ONE body wire.  Pull wire tight and wrap one loop around the opposite body wire.  Wrap 4 even coils coils around both body wires.  Repreat securing wraps.
4.  Repeat coiling wraps and securing wraps.  As you move up the tail, start to keep the body wires separated.  Gradually increase the wire separation to suggest a body/belly/abdomen.  Continue wrapping up to 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch (1-2 cm) from the head.  You may need to add more fine wrapping wire.  Stick one end of the new wire in between the body wire, do a securing wrap and continue coiling and making securing wraps every 4 rows.

Step 5: Add the arms

Picture of Add the arms
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Arms:
Make sure the two heavy gauge wire end from the head have been twisted or wrapped to form a secure neck.  Thread the wires between the two body wires.  Bend wire in opposite directions, to form a t-shape.  Decide on arm length, 1/2-3/4 inches is good.  Measure out the arm length and sharply bend the wire with a flat or chain nose pliers.  Repeat for second arm.  Pass the tail of the are wirm back through the body to secure the arms.  Leave ends straight out the back of the bosy to attach wings.  You can twist arms to get a spiral texture down the arms.

Legs?  If you want, give it a try.  I like the clean lines you get with just arms.  Besides, legs would take longer and I wanted to finish this instructable as soon as I could :-)

Step 6: Connect the wings to the body

Picture of Connect the wings to the body
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Wings
1.Take the wings and punch two holes near the center line, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) below the top lacing line.  Enlarge holes from the back side and SAND to remove SHARP EDGES.
2. Place dragon body face down, with arm wire tails facing up.
3. Lay wings with ribs facing the front, insert wire end through one of the holes in the center of the wings,  (Note:  The pictures show the ribs facing the BACK of the dragon, I took them off and re-did them with the ribs facing the FRONT.  I wanted the dragon to face the front when worn as a pendant and I think the ribs provide interesting texture.  Do as you please.)
4.  Bend end of wire back down through the second hole, pull snug and bend to secure the wings.



Step 7: Finish the body and head

Picture of Finish the body and head
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Body:
Finish wrapping wire around the body until you reach the wings.  Use thin wire to secure the top of the wings to the body.  You can use the lacing holes that secure the wing rib, lace through them and around the dragon body.

Neck and Head:
1.  Wrap thin wire around the neck, and around the head.  Here is where you get to be really creative.  Loop fine wire around and through the jaws and any horns or ears.  You can add whiskers or ruffles, whatever you want.  Just leave space for the eyes.

The last step is to attach the EYS.
1. Use thin wire to attach eyes to each side of the head.  If you can, pass the wire through the jaws for a finished look.  Trim wires, BE CAREFUL to prevent the wire ends from flying all over the place.

See the last page for finishing touches and embellishments.

Step 8: Final touches

Picture of Final touches
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Figure out how you want to hang your dragon pendant.

Try a bail made from twisted wire.

Twist the body to suggest motion and grace.  You can wrap it around a pencil or twist with finger or pliers.

Arch the wings in a pleasing manner.

Add a bead or crystal for your dragon to hold.  Thread fine wire through a bead and wrap it around the paws/arm.

 Add a cord or chain and wear you little dragon.

Please share pictures of your own dragon creations - thanks and enjoy!
kotadawn1 year ago
I've been wanting to make a dragon pendant for a long time, but I don't know how to solder. But THIS, I can do. And I have all the materials right here too. Looks like I've got me a late night jewelry project!
This is seriously great, and I can't wait to make one myself! The eyes are so cute.

Totally voted for you, good luck!
wombatmorrison (author)  CeruleanPhoenix4 years ago
Thank you and Enjoy. Please send me a picture when you make yours - I love to see other dragons!
sabu.dawdy4 years ago
i have never seem anything so beautiful as this dragon . i want to make it for my bff and bf lol:) thnk u for the idea:P
I made one just now, it only took about an hour or so. I didn't have foil, so I just wrapped the wings. It was a very fun project, thanks for the idea!
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Awesome! The wire wings look really good, thanks for the picture :-)
ac1D4 years ago
It look really nice! congratulation!
cokecola4 years ago
Very cool, where did you learn your technique?
wombatmorrison (author)  cokecola4 years ago
Thank you. I am mostly self taught - I just like to play around with wire (and lots of other stuff). I wanted the wings to be stiff and self-supporting, but did not want to solder the ribs or use glue. Late one night I had a 'eureka' moment and thought 'sewing' with wire could work well to secure the ribs. I think it's called 'couching' if you embroider and use thin thread to secure a heavy thread or string of beads to fabric. Or maybe it's more like 'applique' with wire.