So you found a pretty odd shaped stone, shell or some other very cool object and you don't know what to do with it,right? Happens to me all the time when I go beach combing here on Cape Cod. I found a few ideas on how to make a crochet or viking knit bezel to make it into a pendant. I did not by any means come up with this idea or technique on my own, but I did it with a little help from all the others ideas and I kept the ones that worked best for me to create this project. It takes some patience, mixed with a little humor and practice to get one that looks really good, but truly it looks quite nice even when the outcome is a bit rustic too. So have a cup of chamomile tea and let's get started.
Making the Frame
This twisted wire wrap technique can be used on any object. It is best for first timers to use objects that have sharp corners and are not smooth. I show both smooth and rough objects so you can see how versatile this technique can be, but smooth objects are more difficult because they want to slip even more as you wrap. Also be aware that the thicker an object is the heavier it will become, so if you like a large pendant try to use ones that are wide, but not too thick.
Optional finishes for wire end
Optional Final step- tighten the wires
I am lucky enough to live on Cape Cod so of course I love to collect beach stones and shells. I can't wait to make them into pendants and it can be a challenge to wrap them without covering to much of their beauty. I also love my pendants to be reversible if possible so not to waste any of the stones character. Many of my students also wanted to learn a style of wrap that was not to complicated and so I created this style of wrap, which I adapted from other designs I had seen by other artist. You can use this style with flatter beads and other objects as well. So let's get started!
First we must figure out the frame wire length (16 gauge)
Do not fret if you decide you back is prettier than your front because the pendant is truly reversible!
You went to the beach and collected tones of really cute shells, beach glass and stones. No wait you went to the bead store and raided all their cool polished stones. Now what? Well here is a fun project that you can do with all those awesome treasures. A wire wrap ring that is so fun you won't be ab;e to stop making them.
Another great project for those found objects, stones, shells and odd shape pieces. This pendant is simple in technique yet powerful in it's beauty. You can also tuck the wires under the base wire for a cleaner look, I got the inspiration for this pendant design from Eva Marie Sherman's Infinity wrap published in Wire Jewelry magazine February/March 2015 issue.
*For a more advanced design trim the tails 1/4" past base wires instead of wrapping them around the bail, then curl them under the base wires. Be careful not to scratch the stone or object. You can use an awl to bring the base wires away from the object to make it a bit easier. Then if stone is to loose tighten the bail wires by placing the dowel into the bail and twist until the wires tighten up around your object.
S Hook Connectors
Clasp Hook and Eye
*(Lay out all pieces in order to make it easier)
So you have a box of found objects that are collecting dust and you only bring them out once in a while when your feeling nostalgic, right? Well I decided it was time to do something great with those objects and enjoy them every day. I was inspired by a design I saw by Eva Marie Sherman and I tweaked it a bit to show more of the object and I also did a few trial runs to perfect it for my design. The technique is not difficult but the wrap can be tricky because that cool object wants to get away back into the box, But you can do it and with practice you'll be a pro in no time.
So go get that box and your tools and let's get started!
This wire wrap project is appropriate for a coin that is the size of a quarter (1"across) or a cabochon that is fairly flat and also about 1" across.
I got some of my information and the inspiration to create these directions from another artists sight. https://www.scribd.com/beadinggem Please visit this sight to get even more information on measurements for other sized coins. Or visit http://www.scribd.com/doc/91672366/How-to-Wire-Wrap-a-Coin-Pendant-Tutorial#scribd for their full instructions.
*If making something a different size you will need to change your wire length, possibly add the number of wires for bezel width (for the depth of the stone), and also use the correct size dowel for creating the frame for your bezel.
Making the Bezel
7. With half round wire wrap the three center marked areas on the square bundle wire four times each (cut ends should all be on one side and away from edges, this will be the inside/wrong side.)
9. Now wrap wire bundle around the 1” dowel starting at the center wrap with the inside/wrong side facing the dowel.
10. Place coin or stone into center of bezel and check that the wires cross at the top where the remaining marks are, if they do not, adjust them so that they do.
11. Once you get the marks correct make 90 degree angles outward from the frame on the marks (these will be the bail wires)
Setting the coin/stone
11. Using half round wire, begin to wire wrap the wire tails tightly at the base of the bezel, wrap five times around front. you may trim it if you wish or leave it attached.
12. Remove painter's tape from tails
14. Place coin or stone into bezel and hold in place with painter's tape.
15. At each bezel wrap on the frame and at the center of each side of the bail wires create small bends in the outer wire only to hold coin. Start at the bottom of the coin and go up towards the top. Do on both sides of coin. Start with top and remove painter’s tape as needed to reach bottom area. Do this carefully so not to scratch coin. Remove or adjust painter's tape when as you go.
Making the Bail
Option one (with 1/2 round trimmed)
15. Move back three to four wires closest to the front forward and gently away from the bail
16. At the bezel base place the ¼” dowel and wrap the four to five front square wires in a U shape towards the back.
17. Then wrap them under and around the bail. Trim and flatten.
18. Take remaining wires and create a swirl in towards the front, Trim and curl the ends.
Option two (with 1/2 round un-trimmed)
16. Wrap the four to five bail wires front to back around the 1/4" dowel.Use flat nose to bring them in close.
17. Wrap the bail with ½ round wire tightly, trim 1/2 round wire and re-tighten with flat nose pliers
18. Spread out the bail loops to look nice
19. Cut the back tails(4) to 3/4" , file smooth
20. Make tiny loops on small tails at the back of the coin and lay them flat against the coin
21. Finish remaining tails by filing them and curling them into soft coils or creating large loopy swirls towards the front.
Going to a Gem and Jewelry show?
What are the pro's and cons of Natural Stones and Man-made Stones?
How you tell the difference?
Recently I went to a gem and jewelry show and not only was it fantastic, but it was overwhelming because there are so many choices and suppliers, that it became difficult to keep my head. Thankfully I know what I like to work with, but it was still sometimes hard to sift through it all and not get to excited to pay attention to budget and quality, even with my favorite stone specialist and good friend by my side.
Personally I am a huge fan of natural stones. But I do like a few specific man-made stones. There are so many options out there and for many it is hard to tell the difference. Plus there are wonderful reasons to use both, and fall backs to both as well. So I am hoping to give you a better understanding of these differences and options to help you decide what you want to look for before you go to a gem and jewelry show.
First though I wish you to understand that my definition of ma-made stones is referring to those made of plastic, not glass. Natural stones I am referring to here are not colored through dying, or heat.
Let's talk about some of the differences between natural stone and man-made stones. Natural stones will give you a wide variety of colors and character to each and every stone within the same type of stone, even front and back of each stone will have it's own design, this can be a good thing to some like myself, or it can be a true bothersome issue with others. If you love the look of a uniform piece of jewelry this may be very difficult to accomplish with natural stones and it can get costly to try to do so. However if you love that each piece is different and unique then this will not hinder you but inspire you. Some man-made stones do strive to look natural, in which case it is more factors that will make your decision in purchasing one over the other.
Natural stones can also be found objects, or can be purchased in a multitude of ways. They come raw and untouched right off the beach and they come cut, polished and drilled in a mind boggling selection from suppliers and lapidary specialist. Man-made stones come in a huge selection of shapes and cuts as well. They are not limited by restriction and can be shaped into anything imaginable much more easily for a much lower cost than a natural stones. Also the weight of a natural stone vs a man-made stone is going to make a difference in your designs. Natural stones usually weigh more than there counterparts, which can come in to play when using large or multiple pieces in a jewelry design.
Now how about color selections? Man-made stones come in a much larger selection of colors because they can be dyed to any color imaginable, so if you want a bright neon pink, then man-made is perfect. Natural stones can be dyed as well, so you will have to be very aware of this when looking. Dyed stones, whether natural or man-made can have issue, the finish can flake or scratch easily, it can look very inexpensive if not dyed well, and the color fade quite fast. Natural stones come in a large selection of colors and combinations, they are usually a more subtle pallet than man-made. This is not to say you can not find a bright colored stone in nature, it only means the majority of them come as the name implies, in natural tones. Color of a natural stone can also fade in the sunlight or with age just like man-made stones. The difference in fading is that it is generally more uniform and more subtle as it happens. It can also be avoided, or slowed, if the finished jewelry kept out of direct sunlight when not being worn.
Natural stones also come in a large variety of hardness of softness, so this must be taken into consideration when using them in your jewelry designs as well as when they are cut and shaped. Man-made stones do not have this issue, so you can use them in any way you wish and made into almost any shape imaginable. Natural stones will also have a variety of shapes and characteristics to there look because of it hardness, which to me makes it that much more unique. However you may prefer a man-made stone for this exact reason. Uniformity may be very important to you and your design, but man-made stones can also chip or break, just like some natural stones so keep this in mind as well.
The last difference between natural stones and man-made is simply price. Any stone that is natural will be more expensive to its man-made version. This may or may not be an issue for you. The difference may be so slight that it makes no difference at all, or it can be so huge that it becomes impossible to even consider the natural stone over the man-made. But as is said, you get what you pay for, a man-made version will surely be of lesser quality when the price is so different from a natural stone.
Now how can you tell the difference between them? There are a few things you can do to find out if they are not labeled. Begin with what you all ready know about the differences. Use your eyes and look for a whether or not the shape and color are very uniform. Does it have chips in the dyed finish or is the color very bold and bright or more subtle? Turn it over to see if it has natural waves or variations. Feel the weight of it in your hand, natural stones are heavier than man-made. Does it's surface feel super smooth or does it have dips and curves? Sometimes you can even smell, and taste(if you dare) the difference. A man-made stone will actually smell and taste like plastic as opposed the earthy scent and taste(sometimes salty) of a natural stone. Also the difference between it's heat can be a clue. Normally out of the heat of the sun, a natural stone will be much cooler to the touch than a man-made stone. Lastly the price may be a very big clue as to whether it is a natural stone or a man-made one. If it seems to inexpensive to be a real stone then it probably is a man-made one. There will also be some sellers that exclusively sell one or the other, ask around to other customers for who is reputable in there experience, or even go on-line before the show to do a little research into who will be at the show and what they carry.
I hope this helps you to understand your choices better. Many factors come in to a jewelers design, and sometimes they all get thrown out the window because, well, you just have to have that stone no matter what kind it is or what the price in the end. However next time I go, I will be better pre-paired to make informed decisions on my own. And my friend will still help me stay focused, on budget and share in the fun of all that bling. I also know that I will have a list of what I really need for my supply budget and another budget for what I just can't live without.
Happy shopping everyone!
I am a self taught jewelry designer and artist. I studied fashion design and come from a very creative family.
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