Introduction: Woven Wire Bail Gemstone Pendant
After I published my basic wire weaving tutorial I wanted to show how to use the techniques in a simple jewelry project. Well, it's taken a while, but here is a great beginner project that will make you look like an expert. This tutorial uses a basic wire weave and a sturdy bail design to create a beautiful, rustic gemstone donut pendant. The techniques you’ll learn in here can be the starting point for lots of variation and creativity. I hope you have fun with it.
This is my own design. Please be respectful and use it only for personal and gift-giving jewelry. Thank You!!
Step 1: What You Need
1 – 45-50mm gemstone pendant
1 – 10.5 inch piece of 18 gauge, dead soft, round wire
8-10 feet of 24 gauge, dead soft, round wire
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Bail making pliers or mandrel
Step 2: Make the Frame
Bend the 18g wire in half with your round nose pliers. Make sure the curve fits through the hole in you donut. Adjust as needed.
Step 3: Begin Weaving
This weave for this bail starts with a very simple, clean pattern. If you haven’t done much wire weaving, the straight pair of wires for this bail makes for easy practice. Essentially, you will loop the 24g wire back and forth around the 18g frame.
Cut 2-3 feet of the 24g wire and weave in the pattern. Begin close to the curve of the base wire frame.
Leaving a 1.5 inch tail (to hold on to) wrap the weaving wire (24g) around one base wire (18g) twice.
Hold the base wires so that the weaving wire ends on the top.
Step 4: Continue
Then wrap the weaving wire around the second base wire twice. This will also end on top.
How much weaving wire you cut at one time is determined by personal preference. Shorter lengths are easier to work with. Longer lengths require fewer pieces, which means fewer wire ends.
Continue keeping the base wires apart and parallel with your fingers.
Bring the weaving wire under the opposite (first) base wire and wrap it twice.
Step 6: The Pattern Takes Shape
Go back to the beginning of the pattern and keep weaving.
Step 7: Nicely Woven
Occasionally push the wires together with your fingers or pliers to keep the pattern close and tight.
Step 8: Step by Step
Here are the all the steps with purple cord representing the 24g weaving wire and wooden dowels representing the base wire.
Weave until you have about 1.25 inches done.
The section from the bottom of the base wire curve to the top of the weaving you just did should equal half the diameter of the donut. Leave the weaving wire end for now.
Step 11: The Other End
Wind the weaving wire “tail” at the base of the curve around the 18g wire bare spot. Use pliers to pull the wire through.
Step 12: Finish the Curve
Cover the whole curve and trim any extra wire. Make sure the 24g wire end is on the inside of the curve so there’s no scratchy piece sticking out. You can use chain nose pliers to secure the end. (If you ran out of wire before covering the whole curve, just spread out the loops you made.)
This end is done.
Anytime you run out of 24g wire you will end the old wire and begin the new wire as described above. When you don’t need the tail wire for your design, trim as close as possible to the inside of the base wire and tighten with pliers. Always trim AFTER the weave is secure.
Step 13: Change the Shape
Angle the base wires out 5-10 degrees at the point where the weave stops. Continue weaving, taking care to keep the new angles of the base wire. The weaving wire will get used up much faster as the space in between the base wires increases. Add more new 24g wire as needed.
Step 14: Weave, Trim, Add Wire
Keep weaving, adding and trimming 24g wire. When you have about 1 inch of angled weaving, test the sizing as follows.
Step 15: Shape the Bail
Put the straight part of your weaving through the donut hole. Bend the whole frame up where the angles start. The angled weaving will be the front of your pendant.
Step 16: Secure the Bail
Next, bend the bottom curve over the top of the donut with flat nose pliers. You now have a donut secured in wire weaving.
Step 17: Continue Weaving
Go back to weaving up the angled wires until your weaving goes ¾ inch above the top of the donut. Using your fingers, bend the angled part of the weaving slightly, away from the donut.
Step 18: Shape the Top of the Bail
Then bend the top of the angled weave over a mandrel, bail pliers or pen towards the back of the pendant. This will be your bail shape.
Keep the weave going. With the base wires angled in, weaving will get much harder. You will need to keep holding onto the 24g wire to keep it from slipping down. You will also need to keep pushing the weave back together again. Be patient – it will look great!
Step 19: Finishing the Bail
Weave until the woven section is in line with the top of the back of the donut.
Weave another ¼ inch.
Press the bottom of the weave closer to the pendant front.
Step 20: Starting the Decorative Part
Angle the base wires 90 degrees as shown.
Wind the 24g weaving wire around 1 of the 18g wires tightly. Trim the extra 24g wire.
Add a piece of 24g wire (about a foot and a half) to the other base wire and repeat.
Putting the mandrel back in the bail, press the top of the bail into a round shape.
Step 21: Fancy
Spiral the covered base wires in opposite directions with the round nose and flat nose pliers. Do this gently so you don't scratch your wires.
Bend one spiral over the front of the bail with flat nose pliers. Squeeze gently into place. Repeat with the other spiral.
Step 23: The Back
Make sure you have filed or tucked any sharp edges under.
Step 24: Done!
Finish with patina and sealer if you want.
Please post your pendants - I'd love to see them!