Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wire Wrapping for Dummies

I attended a wire wrapping class this weekend. Now, I've never actually taken a jewelry making class before. I have learned through a variety of methods over the last couple of years. Mostly through magazines, websites and a healthy dose of experimentation and trial and error. If I can't figure something out, I generally let it go and just don't do it. So, I decided to immerse myself in something that I avoid. Something that I avoid because I believe that I'm horrible at it. Wire wrapping seems intuitive, and yet it has always eluded me to an extent. I get the gist of it - swirl some metal around a stone and get a beautiful look. But for some reason, when I do it, it looks like a small child got into my supplies and went to town.

So after years of just not doing wire wrapping, I sucked it up, paid twenty bucks, and took a class. I headed off to Beads and Something More, and under the watchful eye of Mickie Holderman, I sat down to learn. We picked out a couple of stones that we wanted to work with, grabbed a roll of metal wire, and started with the basics. I began by practicing my coils. I find it very hard to make mine fall into a smooth, circular pattern.

I picked out a lovely dyed agate (the orange/black stone), and a faceted piece of candy jade (the big pink stone). I worked with copper throughout the class, cause I just love copper. I'm not even ~thinking~ about using sterling silver until I practice and work out all of the kinks with some inexpensive copper.

We started by making a bail, giving the ends a couple of twists around each other, and then bringing the ends around the stone. I left one end longer than the other coming out of the bail. Then I brought that longer end down through the drilled hole, out the bottom, and around the front of the stone. It met up and crossed with the shorter end, where I twisted them together and made a cute little swirl. Mickie taught the  class a trick, then. When you wrap a stone and find that the wire is not really tight against the stone, you can use a pair of pliers and give the wire a little turn. It ends up with a corner turn bent into it, which can look nice if you do it right. So I tried that, and discovered that I didn't know my own strength. I snapped the copper wire and it broke apart!

There was no shortage of wire, thankfully, so I grabbed another length of it and tried it again. This time it turned out much better. You can see the little tweak I gave the copper toward the bottom of the stone. So lesson learned - copper is SOFT!

I found that my skill level was a bit higher than most of the other people who signed up for the class, so I had to pace myself at times. I helped the ladies sitting on either side of me when Mickie wasn't near by. I also wrapped a beautiful imaginary stone, with quite a bit of flourish, I must say. See how lovely it turned out?

I moved on to the candy jade, and really tried some tricks this time. It looks a bit wild, but I really just wanted to experiment and practice some techniques. Heck, some may even call it artistic!

The class ended, I took my new beads with me, and was on my way. I was there for about an hour and a half when all was done. So, what I learned...

Copper wire is soft, so be gentle.
A couple of new tools may be in my future.
The biggest trick to wire wrapping is having confidence that what you make is awesome.
 Finally, I need to look for more advanced classes, cause I don't give myself enough credit!


  1. How lovely! I'm going to have to look for a wire wrapping class near me -- it sounds fun!

  2. Hi BlackDahlia! It was pretty fun. I've put together a wish list of new tools that I want. I'll probably save it for Christmas!

  3. I've never tried to wrap cabachons like you did. Did I spell that right? But it looks like you did a great job! The swirls look awesome!

  4. Thanks so much, Niki! I bet people will get sick of seeing all the swirls I'm bound to do in the future. I'll have to try not to get too carried away...


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