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Beautiful Wire Wrapped Jewellery - How to Wire Wrap a Cabochon Pendant
Wire wrapped pendants
One of the most popular methods of wire wrapping pendants is the pattern I am going to share with you.
A Brief History of Wire Wrapping
The roots of this form of jewellery design can be traced as far back as 1446 BC and gained popularity with the emergence of Phoenician traders.
In 1270 AD the French were the first to capitalize on business profits from the manufacture and sale of 'drawn' wire. Wire wrapping was limited to religious symbols and fastenings for crucifixes, and England's first recorded commercial production of wire wasn't until 1465.
The Victorian Era gave birth to the ever popular cameo, and with it, wire wrap sculpture. The two went hand in hand, flourishing for a number of years as artists created signature pieces that were handed down from generation to generation, before the art form faded into obscurity.
After the first World War, an artist by the name of C. G. Oxley is credited with the resurgence of the art.
As most wire artisans know, although many of the components are the same, and similar wire-working principals are used, each artist brings his or her own style to the creation of the piece. While there are specific ways to wrap the different types of cuts, I prefer to find innovative designs, creatively tailoring each piece to compliment the gemstone, turning the end product into original works of art.
My 'free form' style of wrapping is a combination of basic principals of the trade, a slightly 'twisted' viewpoint, and a unique blending of traditional settings with sculpture.
This next pattern is one that has been around for many many years, and is the basis of most wire wrapped jewellery available online. The pictures showing the various stages are not my work, but they give you a very good idea of what the finished product will look like.
For a bit of a different look, you can use your imagination to work the 'left over' wires into your own designs.
Cabochons come in many shapes and sizes, and include gemstones, cameos and man made material. I recommend that you start with a fairly large cabochon as it is easier to handle. Of course, the larger the stone, the more wire you’ll need.
Here are the supplies/equipment you’ll need:
- Your choice of size and type of cabochon
- approx. 1ft 24 gauge half-round silver or rolled gold wire
- *22 gauge dead soft square silver or rolled gold wire or
- 20 gauge dead soft square silver or rolled gold wire
- masking tape
- bent nosed pliers
- wire cutters
- round nosed pliers
- pin vise
- soft cloth
*Some people recommend using 20 gauge vs. 22 gauge square wire. However, 20 gauge is much stronger and harder if you are using half hard strength. For this reason, I prefer using dead soft. It is easier to mold and shape, and surprisingly, it holds its shape very well after twisting.
1. Take masking tape and wrap it around the edge of the cabochon, then unwrap it and measure. To determine the length of square wire to use, add four inches to the length of the tape.
2. Now cut three pieces of square wire to that length, and use a soft cloth to straighten the pieces of wire.
3. Next, fit the three pieces of square wire tightly together. (Before taping, you can twist the outer wires with the pin vise. This gives the pendant a diamond quality when it's finished.)
4. Determine the middle of the wires and make the first wrap here using the half round wire. Add two other wraps on either side approx. 1 inch from the middle.
5. Now fit the cabochon inside the wrapped wires, forming the wire around the stone so that the middle wrap is against the bottom of the stone and the other wraps are on either side.
6. Once the wires fit tightly around the cab, make another wrap at the top of the stone so that there are about 2 inches of wires left free at the top.
7. Position the piece so the front of the cabochon is facing you.
8. Use the nosed pliers to pull the first of the three wires you previously wrapped toward the center of the stone. There are four places on the cabochon where this needs to be done. Two spots are directing on either side of the center wrap which, of course, needs to be positioned at the bottom center. The two are to the left and right of the second two wraps.
9. After pulling the wires to the center on the front of the cab, repeat this on the back. Now your stone should be held firmly in place. Separate the wires at the top of the cab.
10. Now, use the pin vise to twist the top wires. This step is not necessary, and is used for decorative purposes only. Use round nosed pliers to curl four of the wires down.
You can also use your imagination for this part of the step, making larger curls or tucking the ends of the wire into the side and clamping them for a different look.
11. Use round or bent nosed pliers to pull the two remaining wires to the back of the piece and wrap around wires in the back to create a bale for hanging the pendant and you're done!
Notes: When you are pulling the wires to secure the stone, be careful not to scratch or dent the wire, as this will show up on the finished product. Do your best to keep the bends as equal as possible. This lends extra quality to your work.