3.24.2010

Behind the Scenes: How to Wire Wrap Gemstones (Fancy Triple Wire Wrap Loop Dangle)



Sometimes people wander over to Hint Jewelry to check out my tiny triple wire-wrapped gemstones that can be added to personalized charm necklaces. Most people only create a single wire wrap when connecting gems, but I have fell in love with the look and durability of a "fat wrap."

I created this video tutorial on triple wire wrapped loops and the following information to help anyone who wants to learn this wire wrapping technique and incorporate into their jewelry design. Unfortunately, the video is silent due to my kitty that kept meowing, and my inability to wrap my head around explaining this process and doing it at the same time. So if the video doesn't make sense, please be sure to read through the end of this blog post.


personalized charm necklacesAdd a Gem, Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry):
gemstones for personalized charm necklaces


It all started with a desire to create clever gem dangles that could be added to Hint Jewelry's personalized charm necklaces. Since I had been using this technique in my jewelry, I decided to offer triple wire wrapped loop gems as components.

The first time I encountered this fancy triple wire wrapped loop technique is when I was perusing jewelry designer Eni Oken's web site for tutorials. Eni Oken offers a great free download for beginners called the Fat Wrap Bead.



I begin by creating my own handmade 26 gauge fine silver head pins. For a video tutorial and information on this process see my Behind the Scenes blog post: Making Fine Silver Head Pins with a Micro Torch.



This is what my handmade fine silver head pins look like when they're done. I start with 3 3/4" of 26 gauge cut wire so that when the end balls up I have at least 3" of head pin to use when wire wrapping 3mm-5mm size gemstones.


antiqued silver head pins jewelry making26 gauge fine silver head pins with liver of sulfur patina

Before I wire wrap gems, I like to antique my head pins using liver of sulfur. To find out how to use liver of sulfur for antiquing silver see my Behind the Scenes blog posts: Antiquing Metal Clay Charms and Experimenting with Patina Gel.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
Tools & Materials
Head pins
Gems or beads
Wire cutters
Round-nose pliers
Chain or bent nose pliers
Polishing pad or cloth

1. Slide a gem onto a head pin that has been work hardened using a rubber mallet or running it between your fingers to strengthen it.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
2. Using round nosed pliers, hold the wire snug up against the bead and super close to the end tip of the pliers. Bend the wire away from you to create a 90 degree angle.

Tip: You want a small space between the loop you will create and the bead itself. Hold the wire close to the end tip of the pliers and only create a 1/16" and 1/8" length stem between bead and loop.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
3. Remove the round-nose pliers from the wire and re-position so that the wire tail bent at a 90 degree angle is sandwiched between the two levers. Place the wire along the round-nose pliers in the location that corresponds to the diameter of the loop you are wanting to make. For a medium size loop, I grip the wire in the middle of the pliers' jaws. Using your fingers, pull the tail of the wire up and around the pliers towards you.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
4. Remove the pliers and slip the bottom jaw through the loop you just made. The top of the pliers' jaw is above the loop. Wrap the tail of the wire away from you underneath the bottom jaw of the pliers to complete the circle.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
5. You should now have a loop that looks like a little balloon sitting on top of your gem.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
6. Using chain nose pliers (or bent-nose pliers), grip the loop at its base so that the wire tail is parallel to the pliers and at a 90 degree angle from the stem coming out of the bead.


triple overlapping wire wrapped bead
7. With your free hand, wrap the wire away from you and underneath the stem, pulling it towards your body.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
8. Keep wrapping the wire around the stem so that with each wrap you move towards the gem. Usually this only takes three wraps, which I think looks best, but sometimes you may do four. Normally this is the point where most people stop wrapping.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
9. To make a thicker wrap, continue wrapping the wire around the stem but move in the opposite direction towards the loop, overlapping the first three wraps you made. When you get to the loop continue wrapping a third time moving towards the bead.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
10. Now you should have wire that is wrapped three times over itself and the stem of the gem -- a triple overlapping wrap. Use cutters to trim any excess wire and gently squeeze the wrap between your chain nose or bent nose pliers to tidy everything up.


triple overlapping wire wrap bead
11. Use a polishing pad to shine up your wire wrapped loop and create contrast between light and dark.

For more tutorials like this wire wrapped loop and information on running an online jewelry business, see my whole Behind the Scenes blog series.

13 comments:

  1. Very interesting! Beth... I bet it takes time to get the technique down of wrapping the wire as tight as u do... I like that necklace...

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  2. Great step-by-step tutorial, Beth. That's a nice touch at the end to polish the loop for contrast against the wire wrapping.

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  3. really great tutorial, beth! beautiful photos too! thank you!!!

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  4. Thanks, Beth. This is a lovely, very clear tutorial. You know what? I even learned one or two things here :-)

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  5. Thanks so much, Beth! What clear photos and easy to understand directions! Have never tried a "fat wrap" - now I will!

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  6. Hello Beth,
    Another moment of synchronicity!
    I was wondering how you did your wrapping earlier today.
    And, here I am !:)
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Namaste,
    Diane

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  7. You should be commended for sharing your knowledge with others. I see so many jewelry artists/metalsmiths (particularly etsy metalsmiths) pointing fingers at each other saying "copycat" and I have to wonder if they are truly in this for the art or just $$. I wish you great success in your business.

    Copper

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  8. Just so everyone knows, Beth is so not in this just for the money. I inquired about a week ago regarding purchasing her gems. Instead of trying to talk me into buying all my gems from her, she instead encouraged me to learn how to do it myself and then proceeded to create this tutorial. Thank you Beth for sharing your talent with us! May your kindness be returned in multitudes!

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  9. excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing!

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  10. So glad this was a helpful tutorial and inspired some new ideas out there! Thanks so much for the feedback on the videos and photos. I have a whole new appreciation for people who do these how-tos all the time!!

    And thank you to Laura for helping me move this from my to do list to the done list! You are so welcome and I wish you lots of fun if you try this technique.

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  11. Hi! Great tute! I will be linking at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/ in future post.

    Thanks!
    Jane
    http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/

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  12. Good job, Beth! Very clear pictures and instructions. :)

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