Introduction: 3 Ways to Use Natural Stones for Jewelry
Why not create jewelry from natural stones? It's amazing to take something beautiful but over looked, that God has created, nature has shaped, and turn it into jewelry people will notice!
Working with natural stone has it's challenges, for the most part there are no holes. If you don't have a high speed drill and diamond tipped bits, using natural stones requires alternative methods. I'll be sharing 3, but first let's talk about the stones.
Step 1: Natural Stones
Flat stones are the easiest to work with, but chunky ones can be used also. Your stone should fit with in a 2x2 inch square. You don't want it too heavy to wear. There are a few other considerations. Is the stone plain or patterned. Is one side more interesting than the other? Are both sides equally appealing? The answers to these questions help determine the method you'll want to use. Once you have chosen a stone, it should be washed in warm soapy water to remove any dirt or oil. Once dry, you could paint it or leave it as is. Since these stones aren't polished, you can paint them with clear finger nail polish, apply acrylic sealer, or rub on some vegetable oil to make them shiny. These substances may deepen the color of your stone, so do some tests on similar stones so you know what to expect. If you use vegetable oil, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess. Only use vegetable oil if you aren't going to paint or glue the stone. Now that you have a wonderful stone ready.... let's make some jewelry!
Step 2: Wire Wrapping Flat Stones
The 1st method is wire wrapping. Wire wrapping is a beautiful art form. There's all types, colors and gauges of wire and lot's of fun tools too, so if you find wire is your calling, fun times are ahead. We are going to keep this instructable simple. This is just to give you a taste of working with wire, and the tools involved, so you can find out if this is your area of jewelry making joy. Now, let's make a pendant!
- Pencil and paper
- 26 gauge floral wire (it's what I had on hand)
- needle nosed pliers
- wire cutter (a flush cutter works best if you have one)
- eye protection because small wire ends tend to fly unpredictably
For this type of wrap, a flat stone is the best. To start, put your chosen stone on the piece of paper and draw an outline of it. This outline will be handy if you need help wrapping your stone.Next cut 4 to 5 pieces of wire about 2 inches long. Set these aside.Taking your stone in one hand,determine the top, and leaving about 2 inches of a wire tail, wrap the wire around the stone at least 3x. If that's too difficult, you can trace the outline of the stone you made on paper with the wire . Once you have 3 outline wraps, leave a 2 inch tail at the top, and cut the wire. Holding the outline wire together, take a small piece of wire and wrap it around 5 or 6x. The first wrap or 2 might be more loosely wrapped, that's O K, just unwrap them leaving only tightly wrapped coils. Clip off the ends with the wire cutters. Continue to place the rest of the short wires around the wire outline. Make sure there's a short wire wrap on all sides of your stone.
Step 3: More Wire Wrapping Flat Stones
Now fit your stone in the prepared wire outline. There are 3 wires, leave one for the outline, then, using your fingernail,pull one wire to the front of the stone and one to the back. Do this all around the stone. Next, take the 2 tails, twist them together to make a loop. Secure the loop to the outline wire and clip off the ends. The secret to professional looking work is to learn how to hide your ends! I'm still learning, so buy or borrow some books, check out Youtube and see how others do it, then practice, practice, practice! These may be humble materials, but you can make them look royal with practice.
Want to learn how to wrap a chunky stone? Keep going!
Step 4: Wire Wrapping Chunky Stones
To wrap a chunky stone, you'll be using the same tools.
- 26 gauge wire
- needle nose pliers
- wire cutter
- beads with holes big enough to allow 2 wires to pass through
Start by cutting 3 pieces of wire 10 to 12 inches long. Also cut a small wire 2 inches long. It's always better to have wires too long than too short. Now, lay the wires parallel to each other, ends even, and find the middle. Take the small wire and wrap the long wires together with 5 to 6 coils, as done in the previous project. Once that's done, spread the wires out like spokes in a wheel. Place the bottom of the stone near the wrapped spot. Pull up the wires so there's a wire on all sides. If you have some beads, get them out so you can add them as you go. This method is more like weaving and is more free flowing than the last. Basically, just start crisscrossing wires, adding beads now and then,until you have a pleasing design. When you are done playing, take your wires straight up to the top. Pick out 2 wires to make a loop. The other ends can simply be wrapped a few times around the base of the loop wires and cut, or you can coil them to make them part of the design
Step 5: Make a Coil
To make a coil, grab the end of a wire with the needle nosed pliers, holding tightly, wrap the wire around one end of the pliers to start the coil, then take the pliers out and finish turning the coil with your fingers. This is done simply by holding the started wire tightly between your thumb and forefinger in one hand, and by twisting your wrist, coil the wire towards the stone, until you have made a flat coil. Once the ends are finished, you can add texture and interest to the piece, as well as tightening it up, by gripping one of the crossing wires with the needle nose pliers and giving it a twist. Chunky pendant finished!
Want another idea for natural stones? Keep going!
Step 6: Soutache!
Ever hear of soutache? It's a French decorative piping used to embellish clothing. Jewelry artists are using it to create colorful and bold statement pieces. Well, I don't even know how to pronounce the word, let alone have any of it on hand. I do have some paracord, so I'll give you a quick example of how it's used. You can find soutache piping at fabric stores and on the internet. Be sure and look up the wild and wonderful soutache jewelry available on the internet. Read on!
Step 7: How About Soutache
To make my pretend soutache piece I used :
- 1 bird shaped stone
- about 7 inches of paracord
- 10 inches of florist wire
- needle and thread
- a foot or two of novelty yarn
1st cut the paracord to length. Next, remove the inner cording, and thread the wire through the casing.I shaped the casing around my stone. Because the stone reminded me of a bird, I pinched a beak into the casing covered wire, and made the ends meet where tail feathers would be. I used a clip to help hold the ends together and stitched the cord with the stone in place. Then, I removed the stone and added glue to the paracord, and put the stone back in. Because I liked both sides of my stone, I chose not to use a felt or leather backing. True soutache is stitched to a backing. Once the glue dried, I clipped the extra wire out of the end of the paracord, stitched a jump ring near the birds head, and glued on novelty yarn for feathers and a top knot. The paracord ends can be either left to fray, a bit of glue applied to stop the fraying, or tucked into it's self and stitched. My bird is finished!
OK, one last idea. Keep Going!
Step 8: Embed That Stone
The 3rd way to capture a natural stone is to embed it into some other material that's easier to put a hole into. Examples are wood, clay, polymer clay, metal, plastic ect. This method requires more time, more tools, and more learning! I LOVE LEARNING!!! However, since I am running out of time, have limited tools, and therefore need to know something about what I'm doing...I'll be using cardboard, scissors, felt , fabric, yarn, glue and 1 safety pin.
The stones I'm using reminded me of a chicken and an egg, so I drew an egg shape on a thin piece of cardboard and cut it out. Using that as a pattern, I cut out another egg shape from corrugated cardboard. I then placed my stones where I wanted them on the corrugated cardboard and traced around them. Using a fingernail scissors, I cut out the inside of the shapes my stones made. Next I cut a piece of material big enough to cover the surface of my corrugated egg shape and it's edges. I glued this to the front and wrapped it and glued it to the back of the corrugated cardboard after trimming off excess fabric. I then cut out the fabric covering the stone space in the cardboard. Then I glued the thin cardboard and yarn edging to the back of the fabric cardboard. Once dried, I glued the stones in place. Let them dry and then glued felt to the back of thin cardboard. Finally, I decided this should be a brooch, so I stitched a safety pin to the back.
Just a few thoughts.
Step 9: Just a Few Thoughts More
I greatly enjoyed making this instructable. I hope you will give natural stones a try. The 26 gauge wire I used is easy to work with, so it's a great place to start, however, it's very pliable, which means that my beaded soutache birds tail will have to be rearranged every time it's worn. I'm hoping that by seeing what can be created with simple every day materials it will inspire you to try more elaborate techniques and materials. If the jewelry piece doesn't work out, these make great Christmas ornaments! No mistakes! It's all good!Keep on learning! Keep on Creating!
Now go and enjoy this great gift of life!