I've been making wire-wrapped pendants for about two years now, after I learned about it from my friends. We originally started with river rocks and plain hardware-store wire, but I progressed to sea glass and occasionally tumbled stones and I use craft wire, of course. I originally meant to make this for the first Jewelry Contest, but I never got around to it.
This is a guide of how to make your own pendants, fairly easily. It may take some practice, but it's really fun if you get good at it and it only takes a few minutes.
The only things you'll need will be wire, a few pliers, and something to wrap. Enjoy!
Step 1: Materials
I prefer to use sea glass, and my customers like it too, but you can really use anything you want to wear, so be creative.
As for wire, I use 18 gauge craft wire from BeadSmith that I just order off Amazon, Silver, Brass, and Copper. However, I highly recommend you buy a small roll of plain wire at your local hardware store to practice with before you get the actual wire, although it's not that expensive.
When I first started, the only tools I had were those red-handled wire cutters shown here, and a matching pair of needle-nose pliers. I quickly discovered these other, wondrous tools known as flat-nose pliers, nylon-jaw pliers, and round-nose pliers. If you are not familiar, the nylon ones with the black handles is for straightening out used and bent wire; it's very useful, and I will demonstrate the other two.
The string I use is 1.5mm black waxed cotton, from Shipwreck Beads, but you can find it on Amazon and other places.
Step 2: Getting Ready
Once you have your tools, wire, and item(s) to be wrapped, you need to decide exactly how you want it to look. I generally like to use a 'large' back piece, with a 'small' or 'medium' piece on the front of it, or two or three small pieces. Feel free to use whatever you want; I occasionally use shells as well, both as backing and small front pieces.
The more glass you have, the better, so you can experiment with the colors to see what you like the best. In my opinion, almost any blue piece will look good on a white piece, assuming the sizes are good.
Also, you have to determine which color wire to use. They all handle about the same, but experiment with the colors of the glass to see what you want. I use silver about 65-75% of the time just because I like it the most.
So after you decide what you're going to wrap and with which color, you need to cut off the right amount. When I determine how much to use, I always fold the wire. The one I made for this instructable was about 7" folder over, so 14". The two shown here that have three pieces on them might get up to 9" folded. Although, it won't hurt to use a bit more wire than you probably need at first, because it really sucks when you end up with not enough to finish it.
Step 3: The Loop
On to the wrapping! I know they make special loop-making pliers with different sizes and everything, but heck, a pencil works absolutely perfectly.
Just take the wire and put up to the pencil at the more or less center, and wrap around twice. Now, when the two sides come back to be twisted together like shown here, make sure they stay straight as if you were going to wrap them around more, the wires will want to cross over prematurely. Then, just twist them once or twice so the loop holds. I knew this might seem overly confusing, and since the loop is such an important part, I took a few extra pictures to clarify.
Step 4: Starting Off
To start off, you're going to want to take the centerpiece off first until you can get some wire around just the back piece. I generally start one wire going on the back, and one on the front. For the sake of non-confusion, let's make the unfolded wire #1, and the one behind the glass that's folded, #2. Just copy what I have done here and place the wire where you want it, and fold one wire behind it.
Step 5: The Wrapping
What I have done next is taken #2 and just folded it across the bottom of the white glass piece.
Next, I took wire #1 and folded it diagonally down-right over the pink glass that I had just placed there, and then folded it around the back.
This is the part that may take some practice. You have to make sure that you fold it in a way so that it will not slip, and it has to be 'tight'. You want to press firmly on the wire so that it turns and conforms to the shape as tight as you can get it.
Next, I left #2, but I took #1 and wrapped across diagonally in the opposite direction, and then back around the back.
After that, I took wire #2 and brought it back to the loop and wrapped it around once just to hold it. So, the only thing that #2 did was go down on the back, go around the bottom tip, and back up to the top, while #1 went down across, over, up across, down across, then to the loop.
I'm sure all that was way too confusing, but it's just how I do it. I encourage everyone to just make what works, and from there try and make something that looks good.
Step 6: Finishing Off
After you get both wires back to the loop and wrapped around a few times, you need to trim the wires, usually. Cut them to the length so that the ends will end up on the back of the loop.
Then, you need to mash down the end(s). This is where the flat-nosed pliers come in. You take them, and just pinch the wire down, while rotating the pliers around the base of the loop.
You should now have an almost complete pendant.
Step 7: Tightening and Adjusting
The last thing to do is tighten up your work of art to make sure it is functional and will last a long time, and keep the glass from jiggling around in the wire. I believe this is called crimping, and this is where the round-nose pliers come in. Other pliers can be used, but they may damage or mark the wire.
I generally do this on the backs of the pendants, out of sight.
Place the tips of the pliers around a section of wire, hold it firmly, and twist until you really can't anymore. Be careful now, because any folds of wire that are not stable may slip and compromise you art. Just crimp whatever you think, until you're certain that nothing will move around while it's being worn.
This is also the time to make any other adjustments, like aligning the wires in the center or so that they cross evenly.
Step 8: Other Examples
This is just another example pendant that I managed to wrap almost the exact same way. I kind of the like it when 3 or so wires cross in the center, I think it looks cool.
Step 9: String and Wear or Give
I hope this was easy enough to follow and that it inspires some people to go pick up a rock or some glass and wear it. I enjoy making these, since it's fun and easy, ...and I sell them.
I don't like to have pendants loose on the string, so that's why I have them facing forward. I then just loop the cord through it and tie it off as an adjustable necklace. These make great gifts, by the way.
Thank you for reading, I hope you liked it.
Step 10: Additional Examples
These are other ones I have made and had for sale. I hope this gives additional inspiration.
Participated in the
Weekend Projects Contest