Friday, November 8, 2013

Wire Wrapping a Donut!

This is the piece that started the conversation. I made this several years ago, and in several years of designing have only worked with donut shaped stones a few times. So, I thought I'd make another piece and write a tutorial for it to help others who don't know quite what to do with this shape.

Here I used 18 and 26 gauge enameled copper wire

Begin by doing several wraps. This is your starting point and will be next to the base of the bail in the finished piece.

The very beginning, when you are establishing what will end up being the pattern for the whole piece can be the most frustrating part of the process. Hang in  there and stay with it.

Making sure the wire going around the circumference of the stone is centered from the start is crucial to the success of the piece. At the start it will want to move around, but it does get easier after a few repetitions of the pattern.

Here I am adding the first bead, then drawing the wire around the back to start the second go of the pattern.

Here's a view from the top.

As the pattern gets established, it is much easier to control the main wire and keep it centered along the edge.

The pattern is taking on a distinct look, and the little sections of 3 are plain to see.

The framing is done!

Two little beads add a little extra emphasis to the base of the bail.

I've begun weaving the bail. Instructions on how to do this weave are a a few posts back on the blog in a separate post.

Here is the finished piece before minor adjustments are made. At this point my camera batteries quit. So, this will have to do for the blog post. It is important that when you do a piece like this take the time to tidy up each little section and close any gaps that are present. Make sure the spacing is even. This will further emphasize the pattern and make the design stronger overall.  I hope you have found this helpful!                                                                                                                  

Here's another piece I did with  the same basic technique.
And another one! I hope you have fun working on your next donut shaped stone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Easy Wire Wrapping: The Twisty Frame

In response to some terrible looking "easy" tutorials I have seen lately, I thought I would experiment. This twisty frame was so easy I was just delighted. This is a technique anyone can do well and still be creative with. So I hope if you have never tried wire wrapping before, you'll give this a try!

Two pieces of wire 15 inches or so, depending how big your stone is. I used 20 gauge.

Hold wires firmly in crossed position.

Begin twisting the wire, keeping the angle between the two wires. I found it is easiest to do half a twist at a time.

I used my finger to make the opening that the corner of the stone will sit in. But feel free to use anything you like. A dowel or pen will work well, too.

Continue on, twisting in the same direction as before. It is best to do this work only with your hands. No tools. Tools will very easily chew up the wire, making it look damaged. If you must use a pair of pliers, make sure the jaw is covered with blue painter's tape to cushion the jaw, or use nylon jaw pliers.

Here, the second opening is made. I made a rough guess with the stone close at hand, figuring the fit could be adjusted once the stone is in the frame.

       There it is! The twisty frame! All ready to insert the stone.                                                                                                    
Okay, so the stone is in. As you can see, the fit isn't very good. The great part about this frame with the open pockets for the corners is that you can work with it on the stone and adjust the fit. Again, I suggest you not use tools for this. It takes some patient wrangling. But the results will be better.

About ten minutes later, I have a much better fit. Notice at the top where I have extra twisted wire. That ended up making it difficult to for a tidy bail. If I had started out with only a few twists, and likewise, ended with only a few twists, the wires would have come together at the top more easily. Take that into consideration when you make your own twisty frame pendant.

Here's the finished pendant. The bail didn't turn out well. So, I covered it with spirals made from the loose ends.

Here's a nice shot of how the corner of the glass fits right in the open pocket.

Here's another variation.

And another...

Here I made a large loop where the pocket should be, and twisted all the way to the top. I was able to do that because the stone is top drilled. I covered there I anchored the stone in place with a spiral. Using one of the free wires to go across the whole stone and around to the back gave it even more stability. This isn't the most perfect piece I have ever made, but I think it shows some of the possibility of how the technique can be used. I hope you all have fun and play with this easy framing technique!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making a Custom Piece of Jewelry

This is a custom pendant I made where the client wanted very specific things. He wanted a soft purple stone, in a medium size set in silver for his wife to celebrate their anniversary. I will show you here how I created the stone for this beautiful pendant.
This is the beautiful finished piece.

Here are the chunks of Tiffany Stone (Bertrandite) rough before cutting.

After grinding off excess  material on a diamond wheel, I now have the preforms for the cabochons. The the short wooden dowels will be used to support the stones while I am working them into cabochons. Here you see what is called the Dop Pot. It  is heating the hard green wax that will hold the stones on the dowels, called Dops. The stones also must be heated for the wax to fuse to the back of the stone. They get very hot laying on the rim of the dop pot.

Once the wax is melted and the stones are hot, I dip the dop stick into the wax. Then immediately affix to the back of the hot stone. They are left face down to cool before grinding can begin.

Here are the stones on the dop sticks ready to cab.

On my cabbing machine there are six grinding and polishing wheels, from left to right, the coarsest to the finest. The first two wheels remove most of the material so you can rough out the basic shape of the cab, the next two wheels are where you can refine the shape and remove any little scratches on the stone. The last two are polishing wheels. All grinding is done wet. Without the water, the diamond coating on the wheels would heat up and burn off, rendering the wheels useless. There is a pan of water with lubricant underneath, and a tube attached to a little geyser that shoots lubricated water up onto the wheel I am working on.

Here are the nearly finished cabochons, still attached to the dop sticks.

I place the dopped cabs in the freezer for five minutes. Cooling the stone helps break the bond between the wax and the stone, so the sticks and wax release easily.

Here are the extra pretty finished Tiffany Stone cabochons.

Now, to make the pendant. These are the basic tools I use in wirework.

I start by weaving a bezel for the stone.

The most important part of any wire design is getting an exact fit of the bezel or frame to the stone. I lay the stone on a flat surface, and work the wire on on the stone until I am satisfied with the fit. Then design the rest of the piece from there.

Here is the beautiful finished piece!

Friday, October 11, 2013

More Easy Beads with Wire!

These were parts just to show what the contrasting wire looks like with the beads

I considered this design for the class. I love all the copper!

I took macro video of the making of this pendant for use in my classroom. The students found it helpful to glance up and see the technique up close on the screen while they were working on theirs.

This is a statement piece using thick wire and jumbo beads.

I used the same wrapping technique adding three beads instead of one at each interval. I used highly contrasting wires and very soft colored beads.

Another variation using Czech fire polished crystal

Here, I demonstrated the technique using two different sizes of beads.

Using the beads on the inside of the design gives a totally different feel, as does the thin 28 gauge wire which gives this design a delicate silky look.

Very simple bangle design using 16  and 24 gauge wire. I hope you all enjoy experimenting with this beads and wire technique! I'd love to see what you do with it! Have fun :-)