The Details of Wire-Weaving

Wire wrapped cabochon

Michelle Artisan Jewelry, My Bijou Life, Wire-weaving , , , , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago, a reader expressed the desire to see the progression behind the wire wrapped cabochons. With this piece, I documented the steps behind my process. The thing about wire-weaving is that most people are self-taught with the help of YouTube videos, books and / or Facebook groups. So there is not just one “right way” to do things. Some people make elaborate drawings before starting a project, others like myself make it up as we go along.

I start by choosing the stone. For this one, I chose this peanut fossil cabochon (I suspect the stone was mislabeled and is not actually peanut fossil stone, so if you can identify it, please share).

Peanut fossil cabochon

(The golden dots are light reflections; not part of the stone)

Next I made a frame that will sit on the back of the stone and allow me to connect the bezel. (The bezel is the setting for the stone.) Some people solder their frames; I find wiring the ends together to be adequate.

Wire wrap frame

Now we are ready to weave the bezel. This weave has 5 wires. The foundation is made of 20 gauge dead soft copper wire, and the weaving wire is 26 gauge.

Wire weaving

Wire-weaving

After the weave is long enough, it needs to be fitted to the stone and wired together.

Wire woven bezel

My preference (for the moment) is to take the two wires closest to the stone and twist them together. It’s a very efficient way of getting a tight connection, and it looks pretty.

Next, I attached the bezel to the frame with 28 gauge wire. It’s not too difficult to hide the attachment wires in amongst the weave of the bezel.

Wire-weaving bezel and frame

Once the bezel is attached to the frame in 3 places, slip the stone into place, and attach the bezel to the frame at a 4th point to lock the stone in place.

wire-weaving photo essay

As you can see, my frame has turned a bit. However, that doesn’t prevent it from performing it’s function. (I’m hoping to learn how to make the backs a bit prettier eventually.)

Next, make the bail (the bail is the loop used to put it on a cord or chain). I took two wires and wove them together. These wires and those used to twist the bezel together will become the bail. Make a loop by bending the bail wires to the back.

Wire-weaving bail

Wire-weaving bail

Secure the bail

I took one of the spare wires and wrapped it. Then I looped it around the bail. This wire does double-duty – securing the bail and adding to the design.

At this point, the stone and bail are both secure, and we have a number of extra wires at our disposal. We can use them to add to the design or cut them short and tuck them in on the back.

I used one to add some Swarovski pearls to the design.

Adding Swarovski pearls

Next I wrapped two of the longer wires together. This weave pattern consists of 5 wraps around a single wire and 2 wraps around both.

Wire weaving 2 wires

And this became these curlicues on the front.

Wire weaving

I removed the two wires with red X’s on them. The shorter wrapped wire became a curl on the side with the pearls.

Wire wrapped cabochon

Lastly, the antiquing:

Wire wrapped cabochon

Wire wrapped cabochon

Here are the aforementioned Facebook Groups for anyone interested in looking further.
Wire Wrap Jewelry Artists
Wire Wrap Tips & Tutorials

I hope this takes some of the mystery out of wire-wrapping. What I do is pretty basic at this point. There are many whose methods are still a complete unknown to me. But I am making progress….

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16 Comments

    1. I started seeing wire-wrapped jewelry on Instagram and became curious. It took awhile before I became brave enough to try it. At that point I followed a tutorial on YouTube.

  1. This post was absolutely fascinating! I loved your step-by-step explanation of the process. The piece you wound up with is beautiful! The pearls are a perfect accompaniment to the stone.

    1. Thanks so much Laurie! I’m glad you enjoyed the step by step process. Your feedback motivates me to do more of these posts.

  2. You are so talented Michelle, I had no idea it was so involved. But of course it would be now that I see the process. SO much intricate and detailed work and the result is dazzling!

    1. Thank you, Mary! I have a lot of fun with it. There are so many possibilities. But my work is still pretty basic compared to some.

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