Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekender -- The wire wrap

I am SO hoping this will turn out coherent. This one will be minus pictures unfortunately, because my brain is barely functional enough to do instructions, much less make my hands stop and do another piece right now to demonstrate.


Focal piece (this can be a stone of any shape and size, with or without a hole)
18 gauge wire of choice
20-22 gauge wire of choice (contrasting or matching)
Flush cutters
Chain-nose pliers
Round-nose pliers
Optional: nylon-jaw pliers


-- This works best with a slightly oblong shape, although any shape will work.
-- Try this with all sorts of items - shark's teeth, for example.
-- Copper wire is softer and cheaper for those just starting out, and coated wire is available in a wide range of colours. Don't make sterling wire your first choice unless you've got a lot of practice: the stuff is expensive.
-- Before choosing your wire, test the colours against your focal point to find the best combination.
-- Be -careful- with your pliers. They can mar the metal and leave marks. Tool Magic on the ends rubber-coats to protect wire, or you can wrap them with tape.
-- If your focal piece is small, adjust wire gauges accordingly: the gauges listed are for a relatively large piece. Tiny objects, like a small shark's tooth, require smaller gauge wire so as not to overwhelm and cover the focal piece.


1. To determine the amount of wire needed, work from the coil and GENTLY wrap one strand of wire around the shape, starting with about 3" extra at the top, and matching that on the other side. Cut two pieces of wire to that size. Make sure when you cut, that you leave only flush ends with no sharp points. (the inside of flush cutters is flush, the outside is beveled)

2. Holding the two wires together, determine how much space is needed at the bottom for the "cage" that will hold the focal piece by gently pushing the piece between the wires. You can adjust this later when the twisting starts.

3. There are two options for the sides: you can twist just those two wires together to create the side supports for the cage, or you can wrap another smaller wire around the sides.

Option A: Work on one side at a time.
-- Hold the wire tightly between your fingers at the top of where the cage begins on that side, and separate the wires above that point, twisting them together tightly for 1/2" to 1", depending on the size of your focal piece.
-- Set your focal piece into the bottom of the "cage" to determine placement for the other side; remove, and repeat the twist, being sure to match them up.
-- Return the focal piece to the bottom, and tighten the twists until you know the piece will be secure.

Option B: Again, one side at a time.
-- Take a 4-8" length of your finer gauge wire (dependent on size of focal piece), and tightly wrap it around the two wires above where the top of the cage will begin. Be sure to tuck the loose ends into the wrap so no pointy wires are sticking out. The amount of space you wrap will depend on the size of the focal piece.
-- Set your focal piece into the bottom of the "cage" to determine placement for the other side; remove, and twist the second piece of smaller gauge wire around the two base wires.
-- Odds are, both will be a little loose right now. This is good, as it allows you room for adjustment when placing the focal piece into the cage. When you have placement correct to keep it secure, tighten the coils up by squeezing them against the two wires with your pliers.

4. The focal piece remains in the cage from here out.

5. Tightly work the wires around the focal piece till they meet at the top. You'll have some adjusting and playing with it to make sure it remains secure. The final steps will help you tighten it up.

6. Bend all four wires across the top to make a double X shape.

7. Bring the two back wires to the front, and the two front wires to the back. The two wires now in back will become your bail: the wires in front, decoration.

8. Give each set of wires one good twist at the top of the focal piece to finish tightening it up.

9. It helps to work on the front first, to get the wires out of the way. Starting at the very end of one wire, take your round-nose pliers, and start to coil. You can make the coil as tight or as loose as you want. Once you get it started, you can generally finish it up with your fingers. If you need to use the pliers, be careful not to mar the wire: Hold the wire perpendicular in the pliers, and only use the pliers to hold the wire. Push the wire around the coil with your fingers.

10. Repeat with the other front wire. When the coils are done, press them flat against the front of the piece and arrange them to your liking.

11. Now for the bail. Take one of the back wires, wrap it tightly twice around the other, snip it off with your flush cutters and tuck the loose end between the coil and the focal piece.

12. At the top of the focal piece, use your chain-nose pliers to create a 90* bend in the remaining wire.

13. Switch to your round-nose pliers, and make a loop, folding the bent wire up and over the pliers.

This is a closed bail, so make sure that the loop is large enough to fit over the findings of your chosen necklace. If you want to make interchangeable pendants, it needs to be a large loop. If it will go to a permanent spot, the loop only needs to be as large as the chosen chain/ribbon/leather without findings on the end.

14. Hold the loop closed with your pliers, and wrap the excess wire around the base. Cut off any remaining wire, and tuck the end in tightly.

15. You can take up any slack remaining by twisting the entire bail tightly against the focal piece.

The rose quartz focal piece here actually did have a hole drilled in it, but it was too small for two passes of the 18 gauge wire. I used copper, and gold wire for the accents. My bail was a little sloppy, because my fingers got shaky near the end.

I hope this all makes sense. Feel free to ask any questions for clarification.

1 comment:

Tanis said...

Saving this and hoping I have time to do one soon!
Thanks Pooka.