Introduction: Woven Wire Hearts

About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

I was recently cleaning my bookshelves and found my wire supplies and pliers. It made me think about how long it's been since I'd even touched the box, and before long I found my hands busy at my desk weaving with the wire. I decided on a simple heart shape and played around with different combinations of wire, weaving, etc.

This tutorial walks through the two hearts I designed: one with two warp strands of wire, and bigger heart with with three. I made a batch as small Valentine's Day gifts to cheer friends up, but they're great gifts just in general.

Step 1: Materials

  • thick and thin gauged wire
    • I prefer the look of 20 gauge with 26 gauge, but as long as the thinner gauge wire is ~6 gauges smaller, it'll look fine. Personally 20 and 26 look the best to me; 24 with 20 was too thick and bulky looking rather than woven, and 28 was too thin to stand out much against the 20.
  • pliers
    • You really can make do without any and just use a pair of sturdy scissors to cut the wire, but diagonal, needle nose, and round nose pliers will make your life much easier. Better still if you have nylon jaw ones so you don't mar the wire as much
  • ruler
  • extra hardware
    • I put them on keychains as gifts for others, but adding a jump ring and necklace chain or earring hoops would be great too.

Step 2: Simpler Heart Pendant: Two Warp Strands

This first, simpler woven heart has 2 warp strands of wire, with the thinner wire being the weft woven between the layers.

Begin by taking your thicker gauge wire (20 gauge for me) and cutting two strands, ~8 inches each.

Step 3: Simpler Heart Pendant: Step 2

Take the two strands and make a small bend about 3 inches from one end. Turn that bend into a teardrop shape, with the longer end of the wire crossing over on top of the shorter end.

Then take one of the wire strands and insert the shorter end into the other teardrop shape, as shown in the third picture above. Pull the strand through the teardrop shape and arrange the wire until you get to the fourth picture.

Step 4: Simpler Heart Pendant: Step 2

For weaving, you'll grab your thinner wire (26 gauge for me) and weave it between the thicker strands of wire you set up in the first step. This is called your weft, for weaving terms. I work with the entire spool instead of cutting some off; that way I use exactly as much as I need. For reference though, you'll need roughly 20 inches for 26 gauge wire (depends on what gauge wire you use and how tight your weaving is)

Start weaving on the longer end of the strands you set up (right side of the teardrop shape). The weaving pattern I chose is one of the simplest: first wrap around the bottom strand twice, then wrap around both strands twice, and repeat. See the pictures above for what that looks like. Note that I start with a bit of wire so I can hold onto the end as I begin wrapping the wire (otherwise, the weft wire will just spin around the warp strands). Once I have woven ~0.5 inches, then I'll cut the end and use needle nose pliers to press the end down and prevent it from snagging or scratching.

Particularly, a trick I use to make "wrapping" easier is in the first picture. When it comes to wire weaving, it's hard to push the thin gauge wire between the thicker stands each time you need to wrap. The best way is to pull the wire in from the end of the thicker warp wire. I usually bend the ends of the thick wire away from each other like shown in the first picture so it's easier to pull the thin wire between them.

Step 5: Simpler Heart Pendant: Step 3

As you weave, begin to bend the warp strands into your heart shape. This will be helpful for weaving since once you've done more than ~1.5 inches, you'll find it harder to hold and prevent the warp strands from twisting as you weave between them. Since this is the longer end of the heart, curve the wrap strands into a high heart shape, as the shorter end will be a lower curve to complete the asymmetric look.

Once you've woven 2.5 inches, you should be at the third picture above, with roughly half the heart shape completed. Keep weaving past that point until you have woven about 3.5 inches. Bend the 3.5 inches into the S shape seen in the fourth picture above.

After this, stop the "two and two" weaving and just wrap your thinner gauge weft wire around one of the warp strands as shown in the fifth picture above until you're about 0.5 inches from the end. Cut off the thin gauge wire, leaving a 2 inch tail for ending.

Step 6: Simpler Heart Pendant: Step 4

Take your thin gauge weft wire and begin weaving the left side of the heart. I preferred to flip the shape so that it's more convenient to weave holding the shape in my left hand and weaving with my right.

Due to the symmetric pattern of the weaving, the back is the same as the front. This is not always the case, as I'll show in the complex version of the heart, but for this simpler heart this means the weaving (two wraps around one strand, then two wraps around both, repeat) is the same as before.

Weave about 2 inches, and then switch to just wrapping around one strand like on the right side of the heart. 2.75" of weaving and wrapping should get you to the third picture above. Cut off the thin gauge wire, with about 2 inches of tail.

Step 7: Simpler Heart Pendant: Step 5

Now to finish the ends! Take the shorter, left side and cross it over the right side as shown in the first picture above. Then bend it back as shown in the second picture, and bend it upward like in the third. Wrap the rest of the woven wire around the left side of the heart as shown in the fourth picture.

Notice that I left a small section unwoven. This is so that to finish the end, you can use round nose pliers and bend the thick gauge wire into a circle (bending the thick wire with thin wire wrapped around it won't look as good). Then tuck the circle on the back of the pendant (or front, if you prefer) to hide the end. The reason for leaving the 2 inches of tail is for the purpose: judge how much wrapped wire you need to finish with the small circle in front or back of your pendant, and only wrap that much with the thin gauge tail of wire before cutting it off and pressing the end flat with needle nose pliers. With the unwoven end, just cut it as short as you see fit as you wrap and terminate it with a small circle with needle nose pliers before pressing it flush with the rest of the heart. I prefer to hide the ends in the back of the shape because the colored wire I use is bright copper under a layer of colored anodization, which stands out at the cut ends.

Your finished left side should look like the fifth picture.

Step 8: Simpler Heart Pendant: Finished

To finish the right side of the heart, wrap the woven wire into a graceful curve up and then through the heart, as shown in the first picture above. Wrap the woven wire around the right side of the heart, as shown in the second picture. Again like for the left side, use the tail of thin gauge wire to wrap as much of the thicker warp wire as you need, to finish with a small circle either in the front or back of the pendant. Again with the unwoven end, just cut it as short as you see fit as you wrap and terminate it with a small circle with needle nose pliers before pressing it flush with the rest of the heart.

Your finished pendant is complete. String it onto a necklace chain or add jumprings and earring hoops. Perhaps even turn it into a keychain?

Step 9: Extra Hardware and Variations

I put them on keychains as gifts for others, but adding a jump ring and necklace chain or earring hoops would be great too. Maybe play around with the size and string them together to make a chain, for a necklace or bracelet?

In terms of variation, the most obvious one is to try different weaving patterns. I did that for the three-strand, bigger heart design. Also, different color combos! Using thin and thick gold, rose gold, and silver will give you the most elegant looking hearts of the single tone precious metals, but I also liked the look of contrasting colors like bright blue and rose gold. Gunmetal with any bright color looks great too (esp with rose gold). Other variations are described in the note boxes in the second picture above.

Step 10: Complex Woven Heart: Three Warp Strands

The complex woven heart uses three warp strands of wire instead of two. The basic shape of an asymmetric heart is the same, but what's different is the central teardrop formation and the weaving used. Also because there are three warp strands instead of two, the heart is a slightly larger size.

Start by cutting three strands of your thick gauge wire, 9.5" length (closer to 9" but it's safe to go longer). Make a small bend around the 4.25" mark for all three strands. Use the thinner warp wire (work with the entire spool to avoid wasting material) and just do a simple wrap around 0.5" in the bent portion, as shown in the third picture above. Curve that portion of wrapped wire into a small teardrop shape (cross the longer end of the wire in front of the shorter end), and make slightly smaller teardrops for the other two unwrapped strands, again with longer end in front of the shorter end. Arrange the teardrops side by side, with the wrapped teardrop in the middle. Right-most teardrop should be in front, left-most teardrop in the back, as shown in the fifth picture. Note how the three teardrops are arranged so the three strands on either side of the teardrops fall neatly so they aren't crossing each other. The shorter ends are all under the longer ends.

Step 11: Complex Woven Heart: Step 2

Note that weaving all three strands is made much more difficult by the three separate strands wanting to separate. Patience! One you've woven them all together they won't move, but definitely starting out is difficult. Your wire is still attached to the center teardrop, so bring the thin wire down and wrap it around the bottom most strand three times to start and secure the right most teardrop.

For the weaving, it looks like a staggered pyramid with the tip pointing out. Basically:

  • three wraps around bottom most strand
  • two wraps around bottom and middle strands
  • one wrap around middle and top strands
  • one wrap around top strand
  • one wrap around middle and top strands
  • two wraps around bottom and middle strands
  • Repeat!

Follow the instructions in the pictures above for better step-by-step instructions of how to do this. Orientation is important!! Note that the wire should always exit in the back and pointing down. All your wraps should be pulling the wire to the front of the piece, up, then behind the piece, down, and around to the front again. It's difficult because you need to be careful of how you do your wrapping to only go around certain strands.

I didn't follow that orientation for the first iteration of this pattern, because of the orientation that I wrapped the central teardrop, so the next step shows the same steps with correct pictures. The orientation matters mostly for consistency; this weaving pattern doesn't look the same in the front and back, so it'll look weird in the back if you don't keep it consistent.

Step 12: Complex Woven Heart: Step 2.5

This step's pictures show the correct wire orientation for the wire wrapping. Again, instructions are in the note boxes in the pictures above.

Step 13: Complex Woven Heart: Step 3

Like in the simpler heart, gently curve the woven wire as you go along so that you have a better grip on the piece.

Weave for about 3-3.5 inches, or until you reach the middle under the teardrop shapes, with a nice right side curve for your heart as shown in the second picture above. Then switch over to the same weaving done in the simpler heart: two wraps around one strand followed by two wraps around two strands. I used the bottom and middle strands for this, leaving the top one alone. It'll get hard to hold such a long section while weaving, so bend the wire as you go along as shown in the fourth picture. Create a 1.75-2" length of the simpler weave, and keep a bend at the midpoint of the simpler weaving as shown in the fourth picture above. Don't forget to leave ~4 inches of tail before cutting off your thin gauge wire.

Step 14: Complex Woven Heart: Step 4

Warning: this is confusing at first.

I like to hold my piece in my non-dominant left hand as I weave, and wrap the wire with my dominant right hand. That means for doing the left side, the piece is flipped in my hand, and that further means that it's a different weaving pattern for me since the front is no facing me. For the weaving pattern I chose, the back and front look different so I had to figure out the pattern on the back to make sure the front looked the way I wanted.

That can also be very confusing for some people, so if you're comfortable with switching the piece to your dominant hand and weaving with non-dominant hand, I suggest you do that. Then you'd just need to follow the same instructions as you did for the right side, but hold everything in the opposite hands (Or you can look in a mirror while weaving so it visually flips what you're doing to match what you did for the right side. I'm only partially joking).

Otherwise, follow the instructions in the notes of the pictures above for step-by-step instructions. I'd try typing them up not in the pictures, but it's very confusing without the visual guide.

Step 15: Complex Woven Heart: Step 5

Again like in the right side, gently curve the woven wire as you go along so that you have a better grip on the piece.

Weave around 2 inches or until you meet the middle under the teardrops as shown in the third picture above. From there, weave about 1 inch of the simpler pattern (two wraps around bottom strand, two wraps around middle and bottom strand).

Then bend the simpler weave portion around the right side of the heart, as shown in the last picture above. I liked the look of having the left side in front crossing over the right side, but of course you can have the left side on the bottom.

Step 16: Complex Woven Heart: Step 6

Now that you have the left side out of the way, finish off the right side. I like to finish the right before the left since it's limited by the tail you leave, whereas you can play around with the left side more to match whatever happens on the right.

I finished off the end in a very similar way as the simpler heart: I wrapped the bottom most strand with the thin wire, leaving the other two strands bare, and wrapped them up the right side of the heart before curling the ends into tiny loops that I hid on the back.

Step 17: Complex Woven Heart: Step 7

Same process on the left side! I will say, it looks better to have fewer wraps on the left side than on the right side since the left side is slightly smaller than the right side for the lopsided look of these hearts. That means don't go overboard with wrapping, especially since you do have the entire spool of thin wire to work with! I did more wraps on the smaller left side for this heart, so you can see what the difference looks like. Not bad, but again I think it looks better to have equal number or more wraps on the bigger right side.

Complete! Pat yourself on the back. Attach any hardware you'd like (chain, earring hooks, keyring) and flaunt your work!

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