Monday, January 7, 2013

Wire Wrapping Stones

I took a class here at Sun 'n' Fun on how to wrap stones...the guy that taught us, taught a very specific method called the "Three Wire Wrap"....He didn't give us any instruction sheet, so I had to rely on my phone to take photos as we went through the steps and my 62 year old brain to remember, which is going to be a stretch! I'll try to explain the process we did, so I can possibly recreate this for another stone wrapping another day. It's a VERY abbreviated set of instructions. I may be leaving out steps and for that, I'm sorry, but bet you can Youtube this procedure and find LOTS of tutorials online. I wrote this blog so I can sort of recall how I did this, my first wire wrap project.

First, he had us use really skinny "painter's tape",  the tape that looks like masking tape and is blue, (about an 1/8 of an inch in width) and taped around the edges of the stone/rock for a template to later use for measuring the wire. He called it hem tape. He said you could find it at Michaels. I couldn't! Maybe Joann's has it? We then marked the top of the stone and a left side and a right side on the tape with a sharpie on the tape while it encircled the stone. Then we took the tape off the stone and laid it out on the table.

We measured three lengths of sterling silver square wire, the length of the tape. The instructor likes square wire because it makes beautiful facets when you twist it. The gauge of the wire was 20. He likes to use the best stuff as far as using sterling silver. We had a fourth piece of wire about the same length cut of sterling half round wire to be used for the wrapping part later. It's laying off to the side on the right. That was also 20 gauge. The instructor had us clean the wire first, with a special silver cleaning cloth. He said the wire you get from the factory or the supply house is usually dirty, so always clean your wire pieces first.

Next, we used a little tool, some sort of jeweler's vise, to hold ONE of the square wires and twist it. You can decide how much twist you want in the wire. It looks like the end of a little Dremel tool where you change the drill bits in and out, if you have ever used one of those. You can hold the wire in one hand, clamp the other end in the jeweler's vise and twist away, OR have someone hold one end and you twist the wire.

We laid the three pieces of wire out on the table, flat, side by side, with the twisted wire on an outside edge. We taped the three wires at both ends to keep them from sliding around. Not sure if it matters which edge you place the twisted wire, but it will matter later when you shape the three wires around your stone. You'll want the twisted wire to the front of the stone when you are ready for that step. We placed the flat strands of square wire to the top of our template and visually eyed where to do our first wrap, at the location of one of the black marks on the template.

Taking the half round wrapping wire, we formed a little sharp shepard's hook with one end of the half round, wire. We then hooked the hook around the three strands of wire at the first marked junction. You wrap 3-5 times, three being the minimum, five being the max. You wrap swinging the tail end of the wire around, not with your fingers close to the wrap. This way you don't bend the wire as much. When you've wrapped the wire 3-5 times, you clip it with your wire cutters, as close to the center of the last wrap as you can. You want your start and end points of your wrap to be on the same side, so you don't have pokey ends on both sides of the wrap. We flattened the wrap with pliers. I'm so new at this, I don't even know what flat headed pliers are called in the jewelry making craft business!

Here my memory gets a little fuzzy....No surprise there! After the three wire wraps, we then shaped the three wires around our stone and then removed the stone. The two ends of the twisted wires were bent out of the way at an angle that corresponded to the top of where the stone was. We were getting ready to make the "bail", where your chain of choice is going to pass through. Two strands in the center were bent in sharp loops away from us, and one of the end pieces of the third wire was used to wrap about the loops to hold them together. Then it was cut close to the "neck" wrap.

Next, we inserted our stones into the formed loop. We made sure the front side of the stone was facing next to the twisted wire. We separated two strands of wire all along the sides, pulling the twisted wire to the front of the stone and the outside wire to the back. The center wire of the three strands rides along the sides of the stone. I used my fingers to gently pull the wire towards the front of the stone and the wire to the back of the stone as it was hard to get pliers in there to separate the wires without scratching the wire or stone.

Then we took the pliers and gave a little twist close to the wrap, there was a certain direction you were supposed to twist, which gave it a "lock" to tighten up the wire. Now I don't remember which way to twist! I think it was counterclockwise on the front. I think you twist towards the wrap. Or is it away from the wrap? Shoot! I don't remember!

The last step was to curl into tight little loops the ends of the remaining wires...
Here's my final stone all done! The back---the little "kinks" are where the pliers twisted the wire to help it grip the stone....
One of the other gals in the class was making a different kind of wrap called the basket wrap. There's only one wrap at the bottom. I thought there might be a way to make a Christmas angel from the basket wrap instead of putting a stone inside. Hm-m-m-m....Next year, Christmas angel ornaments!

The front.....TADA!  It was fun and I hope to do more.....
Until next time......

1 comment:

  1. I think that turned out great. I like the curled wire in the finished product. It's going to be fun searching for good stones to use. You'll have a pendant for every outfit. :)