I think of this jewelry project as a 2-ingredient pendant. All you need is one lampworked glass bead and a length of copper wire. The matching ribbon necklace is optional. It also requires minimal tools, so this is a great project to take on the go.
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Step 1: Picking a Bead
Lampworked glass is made by using a torch to melt glass into beautiful shapes and designs. Lampworked glass beads can be made in large simple batches or labored over individually into one-of-a-kind pieces of art. As such, these beads come in a very wide variety of styles and prices.
For this project we will use a 20-25mm flat round bead. You will have many colors and options to choose from including transparent, matte, swirls, dots, and foil-lined. (I chose warm colors with a matte finish and a swirl pattern.) Prices will vary from about $ .50 - $5 per bead.
If you're looking online, just search lampwork glass beads or lampworked glass beads.
Note: Fire Mountain Gems is inexpensive and has a large selection.
Step 2: What You Need
1 - 20-25mm Lampwork glass bead
5' - 21g round dead soft copper wire
20" - 4-6mm colored ribbon
20" - 4-6mm colored ribbon or thin cord in a second color
2 ribbon fold-over crimp ends
1 jump ring
1 lobster claw clasp (and a small jump ring if it's not included)
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Small round mandrel, bail pliers or pen
Step 3: Start at the Top
Cut the copper wire into 3 pieces, 12 - 14 inches each. The exact size will depend on the design you want. You will learn to cut smaller or larger lengths as you gain experience. For now, if you're a beginner, this will give you plenty of flexibility.
Bend your 3 wires in half over mandrel, bail pliers, fat knitting needle or other round form. The diameter of the mandrel you choose will determine the size of your bail. As you bend the wires over, hold them against the mandrel side by side. Then press the wires around the mandrel until you have a perfect, complete circle with a long tail of extra wire.
DESIGN NOTE: You can substitute 21g square wire for one of the pieces if you want to create a twist pattern in the wire. Using pliers or a drill twist the square wire. Keep that wire in the center of the bunch when you make the bail.
Please be respectful. This is my original design. Use this tutorial to learn, but not to profit. Thanks!
Step 4: Create the Bail
Grab one of the outer wires and continue pulling it around the mandrel until it's 90 degrees to the rest of the tail.
Then, holding the 3 bail wires firmly on the mandrel with your fingers, wrap the separated wire tightly around the remaining tail wires. Do this as tightly and as close to the bail as possible.
Step 5: Finish the Bail
Wrap the outer wire around the tail bundle 3 or 4 times. This can be adjusted if you want to create a longer or shorter pendant.
Leave the bail on the mandrel as long as possible until all the wires are secured.
Step 6: Find the Bead Wire
Do this by gently separating the tail wires to see which wire is the most centered.
Step 7: Put the Bead On
Bend the other wires off to the sides to make room for your bead. Thread the bead on to the center wire and push firmly up against the bail.
Keep your wires on the mandrel or bail making pliers.
Step 8: Secure the Bead
With your fingers, take one of the wires that's off to the side and pull it across the BACK of the bead. Wrap that wire tightly around the center wire holding the bead.
Step 9: Repeat
Take a wire from the opposite side and bring it across as a mirror to the previous wire.
Step 10: Secure
Tighten the two back wires around the center bead wire. Press the wires tight to the bead bottom.
Step 11: Treat the Ends
You will now have a well secured bead with a bail, and lots of loose wire sticking out every which way.
To begin the designing process, the first thing you'll do make a tiny loop on the end of each loose wire. This serves two purposes. The loops make the finished pendant more attractive and also assure there will be no scratchy bits left anywhere.
To make a loop, grab the furthest end of a piece of wire with the very tip of your round-nose pliers. Hold firmly and turn the pliers from your wrist until the end forms a complete loop.
Step 12: Work Your Way Up
This is the stage that you use your creativity to turn the loose wires into a beautiful design.
For this pendant you'll work your way up from the bottom, starting with the three loose wires under the bead.
Grab the three bottom wires with your fingers, pulling them to side you will want your wire design to be positioned. Smooth them with your fingers side-by-side into a flat bundle.
Make a very tight circle with these wires, making the center of the circle right at the bottom of the bead hole.
Note: Continue to keep your bail wires on the mandrel or bail making pliers.
Step 13: Add Swirls
Holding the flat bundle with your fingers, make a second loop in the direction of the top of the bead. Make it a little larger than the first loop.
Step 14: Continue the Design
Make a third loop a little larger than the second. The third loop can go in the same direction as the first two, or you can reverse direction and make the loop go the other way. Changing direction will create a "S" curve in the wire design. Make one more loop.
Make sure at least one loop goes in the reverse direction.
Step 15: Design
Aiming for the stem of the bail, gently curve the three wires to the top, center of the bead.
Step 16: Secure Bottom Wires
If the set of three wires reach the top, you can firmly wind them around the stem of the bail. They will be fairly short by now. Grab a tiny loop on one of the wires with flat-nose pliers and spiral the end into a rosette as shown. How you place the rosette is up to you, but if you're not sure, press it against the bail stem.
Repeat with the other two wire ends.
If any of your wires are too short to reach the top, don't worry, you can attach them to the top wires in the next steps.
Step 17: The Back
Holding the bail firmly, spread the two wires on the back of the bead apart. If the wires feel loose, give each one a small, gentle twist (against the bead) with pliers to tighten them.
Step 18: The Top Wires
You will have three wires left on top of the bead, at the base of the bail stem. Try to see these as a blank canvass. They won't add to the structure of the pendant, so can be treated as purely artistic. At the simplest, you can cut them shorter and spiral them close to the bead tucking them in close to the bail stem. Or you can repeat what you did with the bottom wires and run a swirling wire pattern down the opposite side. Those are two ideas - The rest is up to you, so have fun getting creative!
NOTE: There's one important exception to working the top wires: If your bottom wires didn't come up far enough to wrap around the stem to secure them, you will need to twist them on to the top wires. Once the bottom wires are secured, you can finish the top wires as I described above.
Step 20: Optional: Ribbon Necklace
Cut a length of each ribbon 1" longer than you want your completed necklace. Smooth the two pieces together and place them in one of the ribbon crimps. Press down one side of the crimp with pliers, then fold the other side down and press firmly.
Repeat with the other crimp on the other end of the ribbons, making sure the ribbons are smooth and even.
Using pliers, twist open the jump ring, attach to one ribbon end, then twist closed. Repeat with the ring for the clasp.
Open the clasp and hook it to the opposite jump ring. Give a little tug to make sure everything is secure. Tighten the crimps if necessary.
Now it's ready for a pendant.
Step 21: Finishing Touches
Before putting your pendant on a cord or chain, make sure all the wire ends are trimmed. The tips of each end should either be looped, tucked in, or tucked under other wires. This will assure your pendant is perfectly smooth. Double check that there are no scratchy spots by running the pendant over a piece of "catchy" fabric. If you have a stubborn pointy bit, file lightly with an emery board until it's smooth.
Optional: You can apply a jewelry sealer if you're using raw copper wire.
Step 22: Ready to Wear!
Your pendant is ready to wear!
Once you have tried this design, you can alter the the kind of bead you use and the type of metal. You can also try a patina to bring out the detail in your wire work.
Feel free to post what you make in the comments. I'd love to see your creations!
Runner Up in the