This is a very organic pendant, in which you create a laced "cage" to hold a favorite stone, either found or purchased. It is a great design for men or women.
As usual, please respect that this is my original design and don't use it for profit. On the other hand, please make them for all you friends and family!
This is basically a 2 ingredient pendant. All you need is a stone and some wire. And since you can find great flat stones at a beach or river, and pick up copper wire at the hardware store for way under a dollar a foot, this can be an incredibly cheap project to make. But I promise it won't look cheap. A little practice and you'll have some stunning unisex jewelry. Complete supply list is in the next step.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: What You Need
a stone, preferably flatish, around 40mm (does not need to be drilled)
18-21 gauge wire, I used copper - about 2'
a lighter gauge wire, like 22 or 24 gauge - about a foot
jig and pins (mine is an olympus wig jig)
metal block for hammering on
bail mandrel or pliers - optional
oxidizing patina like M24 - optional
jump ring - optional
jewelry sealer - optional
Step 2: Set Up Your Jig
You will use a jig to make the frame to cage your stone.
If you have a commercial wire jig, just follow the instructions below. If you don't have one, it's really easy to make the jig for this project by hammering nails into a small block of scrap wood. Make sure you use the kind of nails without a head. Finishing nails should be fine. They should stick out about 1/2" after being hammered in. Perfection isn't necessary since you'll be making adjustments to the frame along the way.
The exact size of your jig set up depends on the size of your stone and the look you're aiming for. If your stone is in the 30-40mm range and fairly flat, try making the 2 rows of pins, with the rows about 1-1.5" apart. Make each pin about 1/2" apart. The two rows will be offset so that the bottom pins will line up with the centers of the top pins. So, if you connect the dots going up and down, you'll get a very neat zig zag. To determine how long to make the rows, measure around your stone. If your stone is about 4" around, then the length of your frame should be around that too.
Note: If you have a Wig Jig, you can actually just count the dots in my photo for pin placement.
Step 3: Start the Cage Frame
Working from the spool of heavy wire, leave about a 5" tail and begin winding your wire around the pins or nails as shown. It doesn't matter if you start by going over or under to get to the next pin, but once you do the first two pins, you have to repeat the pattern until you get to the end. Then leave another 5" tail and cut the wire off the spool.
Step 4: Hammer Loops
The objective in this step is to slightly flatten the top of each loop. This will allow the frame to grab the stone better, and it looks nice.
Slide the copper frame off the jig. Lay it on the metal block.
With your hammer, lightly tap the top arch of each loop until it flattens slightly. Don't hammer lower or you might break the wire where it crosses over itself.
Step 5: Adjust
When all the loops are hammered, you'll notice some distortion in your frame. Use your fingers and/or pliers to bend it back into shape. It doesn't need to be perfect, since there's quite a bit more bending to come.
This is a good time to see how well your frame will fit around your stone. Gently bend the frame around the circumference of your stone. Is it a nice snug fit? If the frame is too small, try stretching it out longer. The loops will get further apart, but you'll be able to get a good fit. If the frame is too big, try squeezing the loops closer together. If it's still too big, you can straighten out loops until the size is right.
Note: Having the cage be a little oversized is a look you might like. The stone will still be secure, so if you like the look, go for it.
Step 6: Fold the Cage
Using the space between the metal block and it's rubber holder, stabilize the row of loops as shown. If you don't have this kind of block, you can use a vise. Or in a pinch, use your pliers - it will just take longer for the next step.
Step 7: Almost Stone Ready
With your fingers, bend one side of loops over the block edge. Try to get them centered.
Adjust where the metal block edge touches the loops, if necessary, to center the strip of loops.
This step gives you a center fold to set your stone in.
Step 8: Capture Your Stone
Remove your frame from the block.
Starting in the middle of the row of loops, bend the copper wire up and around the edges of your stone. Bend the front loops against the front of the stone by hand. Bend the back loops against the back of the stone.
Step 9: Wire Ends
Two long wire ends will come together on the top of your stone. Using pliers, twist them together. This will secure the cage onto the stone.
With your fingers and/or pliers, press the frame close to the stone all around the edge.
Bend the loops so that they are equally distanced from each other. Do this on both sides.
Step 10: Start Lacing
Secure one end of the lighter wire to the top twisted wires.
Then thread that wire through the top loop. Cross to the opposite side, skip one loop, and thread through the next one down. Continue the pattern in the other direction.
Step 11: Lace All the Way Up
When you get to the bottom, come back up and lace the empty, opposite loops. This should be like lacing shoes.
Wind the lacing wire end around the top wires.
What? You see lacing mistakes? Well, I did say this is rustic, and not to sweat the small stuff :-)
Step 12: Don't Forget the Back
If the lacing wire end is long enough, bring it to the back and repeat the lacing process, just like the front.
If it seems too short, cut a new piece of thinner wire for lacing the back.
Step 13: Tighten the Lacing
If you have "loose" spots in your lacing that you want to tighten up, you can grab the wire with pliers and give a little twist. This will both tighten the loose wire and add a nice decorative element.
Step 14: Bail
Twist the two thicker wires to a length of about 1/2". Bend them over a bail mandrel (or pencil) to make a round loop. Wrap the two wire ends around the base to secure. This will be the bail that a chain or cord will go through.
Follow the procedure for option 1, except make the loop smaller by using round nose pliers instead of a bail mandrel. Then add a jump ring to that loop. The chain will go through the jump ring.
Step 15: Finish All Those Loose Wires
You're almost done.
Once the bail is finished, you will have between 2 and 6 loose wires sticking out near the top of the pendant. First, tuck any short wire ends in (with pliers) to keep them from being scratchy. Next, take the longest wire and wrap it around the bottom of the bail. Keep winding the wire around the base until you like how it looks. Then cut the wire and tuck the end in.
Now, either cut the other wires short and tuck in the ends, or cut them to about 1/2" and wind them into rosettes. I have instructions for finishing wire ends here on Step 9:
How you finish the ends of the wire will be important in determining whether your pendant looks feminine or masculine. If you're making jewelry for a man, and you're not sure what to do, err on the side of simplicity. If you're making this for a woman, you may want to add some filigree as described in the link above.
Step 16: Ready to Wear!
Your laced up pendant is ready for a matching chain or cord. If you're using a beach stone, you might even like it on a piece of thin rope.
If you want the rustic or antique look, you can add a dark patina. Sealer is always a good idea for copper, but still optional. Personally, I like to add a patina and buff off the high spots to bring out the detail in the wire work.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Please post your photos and tell us about your choice of stones!
If you want to see more photos of my caged pendants with a few more details, here are links:
Participated in the
Stone Concrete and Cement Contest