Saturday, November 22, 2014

Silver Wire Worked Spiral Pendant Tutorial, Wire Working Basics and Tips

Hello Fellow Crafters!

I've discovered two things that I'm not very good and computer trouble shooting!  Though, with time and the right search words, I'm able to muddle through the troubleshooting as long as I have the internet to teach me what I need.  Long story short...I couldn't create a new post on my blog using my frustrating!  But thanks to internet searches I am up and running again.

I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a tutorial that I would have wanted to see on a blog when I was starting out with the wire working.  Maybe some tips to help with the process.  I'm still learning tricks from other jewelry makers and it just amazes me at how obvious some of them are, but I'd never have thought of them myself!

I took a ton of pictures of the process I went through, but please remember what my very first sentence said...that I am not a photographer!  The pictures I took made that fact very obvious, but you'll get the gist of what I'm explaining even through the blurry ones.  I love seeing a picture with an explanation so that if you're a visual person, like me, then the learning curve will be much faster.

 For this tutorial, you will need a nylon or rawhide mallet, ball peen hammer, steel bench block, files, a large gauge wire (12 to 16), round-nose pliers, and a wire cutter (not pictured).

Inexpensive Steel Wire

Just to practice, I made a set of earrings out of a inexpensive steel wire.  That's the best way to get your technique down.  Don't use expensive wire or precious metals if you've never done this before.  I used a 4 1/2" piece of wire for each earring.

12ga non-tarnish silver

Using string to determine length
Paper "ruler" under plexi-glass top

For this project however, I wanted to make a similar shaped pendant out of my good wire...12 gauge non-tarnish silver.  A great tip is that if you have a piece of jewelry in front of you and you're not sure how much wire was used, then you can use a piece of string to follow around it's curves and then hold it up against a ruler to see how much wire you'll need to cut.  You could also use a twist-tie (the ones on bags of bread) that way it'll hold it's shape until you need to stretch it out to take your measurement. 

Filing burs off of ends

For this spiral pendant I used a 6" piece of wire.  Using your wire cutters, cut the wire to the length needed.  Use a file to smooth out any burs on both ends.  Go in one direction with short, light strokes to get smooth edges.

Now you need to straighten the wire.  For this gauge wire it's not very easy to use your fingers to pull the wire through several times, though this is great technique for straightening a higher gauge (thinner) wire.  Place the piece of wire onto a soft cloth and using your mallet lightly tap the wire to smooth it out.  Move the wire so that you can reshape it where needed.

Time to make the top loop...using your round-nose pliers, grab the end of the wire with the mid-section of the pliers.  (You'll see where I used a Sharpie to mark lines on my pliers.  This spot designates where I can make a 5mm loop.  It's my most often used size loop, so instead of guessing where to grab a piece of wire these lines show me the way.  Just touch them up when they start to fade.)  Form the loop by turning the pliers with one hand and pulling the long end of the wire around the nose of the pliers until the wires touch.

Now grab the opposite end of your wire and start forming your spiral...being sure to spiral in the opposite direction that you formed your top loop.  This is where practice makes perfect.  You need to go slow and move with the wire...don't force it too quickly or it will bend instead of curve for you.  You can make a tighter spiral if you're not going to hammer it flat because hammering will make the wire expand some.

Okay, so now your spiral is done, but it's kind of wonky, right?  You can see that when I've placed mine on the bench block that the center is higher than the outside.  That's easily fixed by using your mallet again to tap it into place. 

I want the wire on this pendant to be flattened, so now I'll switch to
my ball peen hammer.  If you need to protect your wire because it's coated wire, then sandwich it between a soft cloth.  This is where I'm at a loss for the best cloth to use because no matter what I've tried it gets "cut" from being between the wire and the hammer.  I use my red felt and just have to keep moving it when it gets a hole in it. 

But for this pendant I WANT it to be textured, so protecting it would be an extra step.  Using the flat of the hammer and starting at one end just hammer the wire flat.  You'll see the kind of pressure you'll need to exert in order to flatten it.  **Note:  If you want your wire flat and not add any texture, then you need to keep your hammer flat and not hit the wire on an angle.  You don't need to hit it very hard, just take your time and keep looking at it to see if you like it's look.  You may need to re-coil the spiral a bit since the wire will "stretch" as you flatten it.


 To add texture to the wire you just need to switch your hammer around to the "ball" side.  This is what adds the little dings and divots into wire.  So, have at can make as few or as many as you like.

Using a soft cloth, polish the wire to give it a bit more shine.  I use a "Sunshine Polishing Cloth".
Polishing the pendant

Finished spiral
Here is my completed spiral!  As you can see by my final picture how different in color the silver wire is from the steel wire.  The steel is more gray, but it's great to practice on.

My plan is to use this spiral on a necklace I'm going to design for my Etsy shop.  I will wire wrap some crystals or gemstones onto it and then hang it from a leather cord necklace.

If you'd like to see the finished product, then I'd love it if you would take a peek in my shop.  Just follow this link:
Silver pendant, steel earrings
I would like to hear from you...please let me know what you think of this tutorial.  Pin it on Pinterest if you really like it!  Maybe there is something that you'd like me to demonstrate...just ask!  If I can make it work, then I'll post it on my blog.

Thanks for taking the time to visit with me!  Have a great day.

Donna D
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