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An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide to Wirewrap

Here is a step-by-step lesson on how to make a basic wirewrap pendant, graciously contributed by Junesse Farley as originally posted on the McRocks Message Board (an active and well maintained website and forum for rock & mineral collectors, well worth a look...) on August 11, 2007. Junesse states, "There are other methods and styles, but this is what I prefer to get a clean look with a secure fit."

By Junesse Farley

1. The tools that you need as a basic requirement are a pair of flat-nosed pliers, round-nosed pliers, wire cutters, and a small paring knife. All pliers need to be smooth-jawed. As you can see, I have more tools that I find helpful, but they aren't required.

Some wirewrappers will use nylon-jawed pliers, but I find them cumbersome. If you need to, wrap the jaws w/ tape to prevent marring the wire (I usually don’t because I don’t like the feel, but I control how hard I grip and I’ve been doing this for a while.). The best tape I’ve found for this purpose is fabric athletic tape, because it holds without leaving behind a sticky residue when you remove it. The wire I use is half-hard square and half-hard, half round wire. In this project, I used 24gauge square and half-round, but you might have an easier time w/ a heavier gauge square if you are doing your first project. I would not use heavier than 20 gauge square and 22 half-round, just for ease of working and appearance.

2. Take your cab and measure how much wire you would need to go around the cab, with 1.5 to 2 inches extra on each end (3 to 4 inches extra total). Cut a minimum of three lengths of square wire, but for this exercise I use four. I prefer four for strength and looks, but sometimes you might need more, based on the dome or thickness of your stone.

Straighten somewhat (if necessary), by pulling them through your fingers while holding a cloth or paper towel.

3. Cut about 6 inches of half-round wire and using your flat-nosed pliers make a hook that fits snugly over the square wires, but would only hook over them about halfway when they are stacked together.

4. You may want to tape the square wires together. Take your square wires, stack them parallel so their faces are together. These wires will be the frame around your stone. Once your square wires are stacked, put the hook of your half round over the entire stack, approx. in the middle of the stacked wires.

5. Wrap the half round around the stack of wires, and snug it down w/the flat-nosed pliers. Slide the wire if you need to adjust it’s placement.

6. Make sure the fit is tight, using your flat-nosed pliers if you need to do so.

7. Continue the wraps around, making sure the fit is tight, until you have enough wraps to nicely cradle the bottom of the stone. Three wraps are the minimum I use for stability. I also snug the wire down after each wrap, using my pliers, to ensure a tight fit. If you used tape, you can remove it now.

8. Cut half-round wire so that it ends in the middle of the stacked wires, on the same side as where you started. This view shows the “back” or “inside” of your work and will rest against the stone, hiding your loose ends.

9. For a decorative touch, twist one of the square wires on the outside edge of your stack. I use a pin vise, but you can also use your pliers to do this.

10. You might want to support your wire where it comes out of the wraps while twisting, so that you don’t twist too much at the wrap and break it off. Make sure your twist is even and both sides match visually.

11. Fit the wires around the stone, using either your fingers or your round nose pliers to curve the frame. Figure out where you wand to place next set of wraps should be placed. Use a tape measure if it helps. For this stone, I will put one set on either side.

12. Make another hook in your remaining piece of half-round as before, and place it so the end is on the inside of your frame. Repeat as before, adjusting your placement before making the second wrap. You will find that the twist in the wire allows you to grip the frame more easily than before, but it won’t slide as easily, so try to get the placement as close as possible to start with. Do this for both sides.

13. Fit the wires again, so the frame cradles the stone entirely, and the “inside” of your frame wires lie flat against each other without crossing. Use your round and flat nose wires as necessary to adjust your fit.

14. Make another hook in your half-round wire, this time long enough to reach to the bottom of your entire stack of wires and wide enough to fit over the double thickness of your stacked wires. Make sure that the hook comes over the top or “front” of your frame, where your twisted wire is. It is important that your wires remain in their stacks and meet evenly without crossing.

15. Make several wraps around your bundled wires to hold them together, and trim off so that the half round ends on the opposite side from where you started, and reaches to the bottom edge of your stacked wires. I use a minimum of three wraps around, but prefer four for stability. Snug down as needed w/flat-nosed pliers.

16. Take the outermost wire on the back of your frame (opposite side from twisted wire) and bend it out at a right angle. Measure out enough wire that you could bend it over and just cover the wraps, then trim off excess. Do this for both of them.

17. Bend down your trimmed-off wires so that they cover the ends of your wrapped wire, locking them in. Snug down w/flat nosed pliers.

18. Using your flat-nosed pliers, grab the last wire on the back between the wraps and bend it inward. Do this evenly between each set of wraps. This will support the flat back of your cab.

19. Set the stone inside your frame. While holding the stone in the frame, take your paring knife and gently pull up the top wire, enough so that you can get the edge of your flat-nosed pliers under it. Do this for each section between wraps.

20. Pull up top (twisted) wire over the front of your stone, so that it is secure. Make sure you do this evenly. Be careful not to scratch your stone if you are using a soft stone.

21. You can use a set of pliers to pull both wires inward across the top of your stone for a better fit if you want to. I like to use chain nose pliers for this. Make sure your stone is secure.

22. Take the next set of wires on the back of your frame and bend them outward to either side.

23. Slide the remaining set of untwisted wires out to either side of the front twisted wire and restack. They will be 90 degrees to your original stack. This will form your bail. Tape if necessary.

24. Measure up about half an inch or so, then make a hook in what’s left of your half round wire and again wrap it around the stack. Make sure the hook faces the back of your stone and the end of your wire is in the middle of your stacked wires. Make several wraps around, just as you did forming the oval part of the frame.

Trim off, and end your wire in the middle on the same side as you started. You should have about one-half to three quarters of an inch of wires sticking out past the end of the wraps. Remove tape, if necessary.

25. Bend your stack of wires towards the back of your stone, using your round nosed pliers. Make a u-shaped bend. This is where your cord or chain will go through your bail. You almost have a complete pendant!

26. Turn your pendant over so the back faces you. Take the wires in your bail and divide them, pulling them out to either side in a “Y” shape that ends just below your two wires that you pulled out to the sides earlier, but didn’t include in the bail.

27. Take the innermost (untwisted) wire on one side of the “Y”, and wrap it around the wire sticking out on that side. Wrap it completely around and snug down w/your flat-nosed pliers. Trim off the wire from the “Y” against the other wire, as needed. Do this on both sides.

28. Now you have four wires left, two twisted and two untwisted. Measure the untwisted wires against each other and even the ends up. You don’t want much more that an inch of wire remaining.

29. Twist these wires and taking your round nose pliers, make a loop as small as you possibly can in the end of these wires. You can crunch it smaller with your flat-nosed pliers if you need to, but try and keep the round shape.

30. Coil the wire inward upon itself around the loop. Some people use their round-nosed pliers for this, but I like using my flat-nosed pliers. Repeat for all remaining wires.

31. Arrange the coils attractively at the base of your bail. If you like, take your paring knife and slide it in-between the twisted wires in the bail. Separate the wires slightly. Your pendant is now complete!

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