Tag Archives: wire wrapping

Big Bead Blowout

So, I got a request from a friend for some earrings for her mother-in-law’s Christmas present. I went digging around in my stash and found some carnelian teardrops I always wanted to wrap with wire and did that. I practiced a bit with some damaged and/or super cheap stones first, so in the end I was able to do this reasonably gracefully:


I think she’ll like them, but I also wanted to do some alternate things–and why not. I’ve certainly got the materials.


Lots and lots of materials. All over the place. (And a new work bench, did I mention this? My husband made it for me last month. I absolutely love it.)

I spent a lot of time digging up beads and findings and wire and whatever else, moving things around and trying to pair this with that. I forgot how difficult it could be to come up with something that actually works physically, practically, and aesthetically. I’ve decided that until class starts again in mid-January, I’m just going to play around with all this stuff I’ve been accumulating and actually make things without worrying too much about what I’m “using up” and whether I’m just wasting it. (Honestly, a lot of it isn’t great quality anyway, so why not have fun?) I need to get that creative mindset back. So far, I’ve got these going on:

earrings1I stamped these washers, what, two years ago?

earrings2Bought a bunch of Swarovski beads & danglies three years ago . . . 

earrings3And went nuts over little silver-over-pewter beads that, in truth, tarnish easily and weren’t worth buying.

Aside from that, I’ve got something going on that I’ve been meaning to do–a project from a book that I actually made a copper piece for some months ago. I’ll get to that next time.

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Filed under earrings, yak yak yak

The Stone I Learned Wire Wrapping For

I’ve brought this project up a couple times over the past year; it involves wire-wrapping a “picture jasper” I bought at a gem and fossil show last year (from this seller, I believe.) I taught myself wire wrapping from jewelry magazines, YouTube videos, and just plain experimentation. Worked with copper, ordered some gold-filled wire, started this piece, didn’t like it, let it sit, started it over, got stuck on what to do with the wire ends, and then finally . . . today . . .


It got a little fancier than I anticipated, but I like it. I didn’t want all eight wire ends hanging around the stone and cluttering it up, so I gave it an updo, so to speak. I think it’s delicate enough to not appear too gaudy on a chain–and even if it does, I’ve decided not to care so much about that. I’ve been going minimal for a bit too long, I think.

One thing I’ve learned–remembered, actually–from this piece is that it’s fun and worthwhile to sit and think and come up with ideas of your own. As a student jewelry artist, I spend a lot of time on Pinterest–more time than I spend working at my bench–looking for “inspiration.” I need to let that go for a while and just play on my own.

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Filed under pendant, stones/gems, wire

A Few Things

Before I forget, during my recent period of blog inactivity, I wrapped this large mahogany obsidian cab:

mahoganyobsidianKinda reminds me of a scarab beetle . . . 

I’ve still got the picture stone to finish wrapping, and the wire I was waiting for came in the mail.

picstonenewNo excuses left. Finish it!

Today was the annual gem and mineral show (at which I got the stone last year) and I was able to get another one, as well as a few other things.

gfmshowOoo. Aaaah.

I’m particularly excited about the cabochons, because they were dug up and cut and polished by some nice dude in Iowa. To me there’s something special about that, much more personal than going online and ordering something that was cut and polished at a cutting center in India or China. I’ll have to design something nice for those . . . but right now my first priority is going to have to be setting those two blue stones on the right, which are Peruvian opal. My mom’s birthday is near the end of the month, and this year I want to be able to make something for her.

So that means I’m going to have to put this little project on the back burner:


I started this one in class last week: it’s a strip of 18g sterling, bent to accept a stone bead which is going to be riveted on. I did some rough filing at home later, and plan to do more tweaking, smoothing, and buffing in class with the flex shaft. It’s a pretty plain band, but it is my first one (and I have a few more beads I could use to make more!)

And finally, remember this little disappointment?

bezelhuhI showed it to my teacher while she was there last week, and she suggested that I could try to fill that back in with more solder. And if I didn’t want to try putting a stone in there after all, well, I could just epoxy some interesting things in it, or whatever–the point is, there’s no need to scrap it. So I did experiment with some bits of wire solder, and–hooray–the little hole closed up, and on sanding, I was able to make the line disappear completely. I think I will put a bail on it, polish it, and indeed find something to do with it. Meanwhile, I’ve started another one, and it’s going just fine, so here’s hoping I get that ring project on track again.

Now it’s time to get to work on those earrings, before I lose motivation or start playing video games or something.

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Filed under beads, metals, ring, riveting, soldering, stones/gems, wire, yak yak yak

Complainypants Averted

I seem to be having trouble with every single thing I’m working on lately, so I’ve been kind of avoiding this blog because I didn’t want to be a downer. However, things have picked up and I’ve pushed through most of my problems, although I wasted a lot of time playing video games instead of working, because I have a very avoidant personality. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening.

Finally got to the interesting cable detail part of the Kayleen Pullover. That’s the good news. The bad news is, I screwed it up at one point and couldn’t really tell until about eight rows later. Fortunately, I was with my knitting group at the time, and our cable guru was able to fix it . . . or maybe not fortunately, because she fixed my mistake but left one of her own. It was the kind of thing that didn’t really show on the right side, but I knew it was there, and maybe it would be more obvious after washing and blocking, so after a couple days of angst, I decided to go in and fix it myself. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but cables are kind of my nemesis and I don’t understand what I’m looking at well enough to make repairs. Or so I thought. And now here’s a picture of the scariest thing I’ve ever done in knitting:


It took two tries, a crochet hook, a cable needle, and four episodes of Futurama to get this small bit knitted up properly, but I did it! So that was a confidence booster, and now maybe I “get” cables a little better than I did before.


In other news, my commission-friendly friend asked me if I could fix a brooch she bought online somewhere for . . . well . . . probably too much money. It features a bunch of glass flowers glued onto a base metal backing, which was glued onto a pin finding (it took me a while to realize that there were sharp edges on one of the points because the person who made this probably snipped off the ring that originally made this piece a pendant finding.) Not surprisingly, two of the flowers broke off when she tried to put it on. There wasn’t much I could do except try to glue them back on, which didn’t quite work (glass can be notoriously difficult to glue with any security.) So, with a bit of nail polish remover and a heap of patience, I popped off all the other flowers (not difficult, alas) and tried to remove as much glue as possible. I didn’t quite succeed in that.

brooch1Yeah, that glue’s not coming off.

After it dried, I scuffed up the remaining glue as well as possible with a needle file, as rough surfaces hold glue/cement better than smooth ones. Then I replaced all the flowers–which, at least, I was able to clean off, because the original maker had slopped some glue on them–and hypo cemented the crap out of the base and put the flowers back. I don’t know if that was the proper thing to do, but it seems to have worked.


The only problem is that from some angles you can see the shiny surface of the hypo cement under the flowers, and I feel bad about that. (On the other hand, at least you don’t see strange red fibers stuck in the glue anymore, because yes, that’s how it was before.)

I’ve decided not charge my friend for this job, and I’ve also decided that my jewelry teacher was right when she advised us to avoid accepting repair jobs on costume jewelry. So: lesson learned. Let’s move on.

Remember this unfinished thing I’ve been sitting on?


Time has come today. Let’s re-do that wrap and get this pretty stone set!


It’s a relief that this is working out. It’s a very basic wrap, but I guess that’s what this stone needed. I’m considering ordering some gold-filled round wire to put a basket weave on the bail, but don’t know yet. As I keep saying, this wire has a brass core that makes it very hard and a pain to work with. Plus, if I can figure out a subtle way to finish the ends, I think that’ll look best. I’ll think about it. Just getting this far has boosted my spirits.

Oh, and one last thing: before tackling the above project, I decided to fix and finish this abandoned wrap of a repro Roman coin just to get a little fresh practice in:


reprodoneNothing special, but I got it done.

And that’s all for now. Here’s hoping my next projects go smoothly . . . and if they don’t, here’s hoping I can deal with it!


Filed under pendant, stones/gems, sweater, wire, yak yak yak

Day 9: Ode on a . . .

. . . Grecian Urn, a pendant by Jodi Bombardier as published in Weave Wrap Coil. Here’s my version, which took a couple days of on-off work to complete:grecian5

I like it! It took a lot of careful fussing the get the guide wires straight and parallel and even and all that; I can’t say I did them 100% perfectly, but I did do rather well.


I over-wrapped the neck to start, because it seemed helpful in keeping everything in line until I could get the weave going. Once I did that, it was pretty smooth sailing, although the trouble with a very long 26 gauge wire bopping around it that it might bounce up and poke you in the face, so you have to be careful about that end.


I kind of liked the way it looked at this stage. Imagine a pretty bead or marble in the bottom, and the cage wrapped only 1/3 of the way!  Maybe I’ll try that next.


The project didn’t call for an object to be caged, but you know I like slipping stones in things, so I rooted around in my collection until I found this appropriately-shaped little snowflake obsidian.


And here he is, clearly visible inside his little cage! The bottom was the hardest part of all, as the spaces to weave through became quite small indeed. I muddled through, though, and even used the ends of the bottom weave to fill in a bit (so even though that’s an early step, don’t clip those too short right away!) I unwound the top a little and flared out the loop ends; eventually I’ll put a chain or ribbon up there. Overall, I’m pleased, but the wraps in the photo in the book are so straight and perfecty-perfect, and I just don’t know how to do that! Maybe I can pick between the wires a bit with a very  fine tool, if I can come up with something that’ll work.

Just a note: I might have to skip a post tomorrow and Friday, as the guy who I thought would be fixing my basement next month got an opening for this week, and we took it. So my next couple days are going to involve moving stuff around, taking the computer upstairs, losing the use of my workspace, and listening to a lot of jackhammering. Not to fear though; I’ll probably spend a lot of time knitting. I noticed that my Kayleen sweater post got quite a few views, so I’ll keep going with it!



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Filed under pendant, wire

Ammonia Blue and Other Small Things

So, last week I mentioned I was trying out a patina recipe to get green on copper.  It involved putting sawdust in a plastic cup and adding a mixture of vinegar and ammonia (1:3 ratio). You bury your piece under the sawdust and let it sit for one hour to one day.  Well, three days later, I gave up because nothing happened (except the heat patina from annealing came off).  My guess is, either the red oak sawdust I used was the wrong kind of wood, or the “janitorial strength” ammonia was either too strong or not strong enough for the ratio. I do know this: fuming a piece over ammonia will get you a blue color very quickly, and this mixture stank of ammonia (I had a cut on my finger that would actually burn every time I took the lid off to check it.) So I used a bit of plastic netting from a bag of onions to suspend this leaf over the mixture, covered it, et voila! Blue. Then I sealed it was spray automotive enamel and now I’m done.


Still wish it was green, though.

I’ll be on the lookout for more recipes.  Meanwhile, I’m still practicing wire wrapping.  This cheap, repro Roman coin (which my husband was going to get rid of!) doesn’t look terribly bad in this picture . . .


. . . but there’s some wonk to the wrapping wires.  I guess pressing them against an uneven coin is going to produce an uneven result (who’d have thought? Ha.) Lesson learned:  I need some dowels in larger sizes than what I have.  Maybe I’ll hunt around the house for some things. Also, next time I try this particular wrap, I’ll bind the sides. I’m not going to finish this piece . . . no, wait.  I’ll save it in case I have a new bail idea and I want to do a practice run first.

And finally, here’s something I fold-formed in class this week:


I didn’t get too into this, because I learned about t-folds and their variations last summer, and I had other projects I wanted to do.  But . . . I learned that if you wrap a dowel in the middle of bit of sheet metal, clamp the ends of the sheet into a vise, remove the dowel, and then gently use a mallet to make a “pillow”, you can decorate said pillow by dimpling it with dapping punches. What you see here is the reverse side, which has a strange, alien-intestine look to it. I was thinking of making a pendant with this–not unlike a bolo tie, with a cord on each side, but maybe I’ll wait and make a better one next week. I just pulled back the edges and wrapped them toward the back to see what it would look like; now that I’ve got an idea, surely I could do better.

And finally, I may have learned something about copper solder that will make it look better!  I’ll try it Monday and post results.

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Filed under experiment, metals, presents, wire

Meanwhile . . .

I was hoping by now to be able to show the results of a patina experiment I tried at home with one of the copper “leaves” I made in class, but so far . . . nothing.  It’s been a couple days and all that’s happened so far is the flame patina has come off, leaving the copper as orange and shiny as what I started with. (This is not a bad thing, and probably an easy way to get that result, if I want it in future.) I’m hoping for a green color, and perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but there does seem to be a slight tinge growing, so I’ll keep waiting.

Meanwhile . . . I tried out my new wire and ended up with a caged bead that looks fair enough on either side.  Kinda like one of those double-A-side singles The Beatles used to release back in the day:



I’ll let you decide which is “Penny Lane” and which is “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Naturally, this copper wire is way softer than the gold-filled stuff I’d tried (it has a brass core). This is good because it’s so much easier to shape, but it’s also problematic because it’s super-easy to screw up, and the finished piece isn’t all that sturdy (maybe a run in the tumbler will work-harden it up, though.) This piece took about an hour and half; most of that time was spent fixing mistakes and mis-alignments.  I suppose in time I’ll get better at avoiding trouble in the first place.

Tomorrow I have class again, and I’m looking forward to trying something new: copper solder!  I’ve heard that it’s a decent color match as long as you don’t go crazy and overheat it.  We’ll see!


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Filed under pendant, practice, Uncategorized, wire