Wire-wrapping Pearls

Why hello there, all. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m acting as, well I suppose as a hostess, of  a special event for our FRG (military family organization). Our leader had the brilliant idea of a “Pinterest Party” and I must say I love it. We’re doing 3 crafty tutorials, and bringing yummy appetizers, and there’ll be decorations of course – like a real life Pinterest! I’m super excited and honored to share my wire-wrapping technique with the other women in the company.

I’m also excited and honored to share it with you! I’m posting this here as a reference for the FRG, and as a full tutorial for everybody else. If you’d like to know more about my appetizer, please check out my Dornish Peppers post from yesterday.

But let’s get on with this. What is it that we’re making today?

These are my Smoky Charcoal Wire-Wrapped Double Glass Pearl earrings, currently for sale on my Etsy shop. You can, if you wish, purchase this pair, or commission a pair in any of the colors I can acquire. (Of course, I’d love it if you did either one.)

But today, I’m going to take you inside my studio and show you how to make them!

You will need:

- four glass pearls. These are 12 mm or just less than half an inch.
- about 36 inches of wire, cut into 4 pieces of about 9 inches. I like 26 gauge for this size of pearl.
- two earwires
- at least one pair of needlenose pliers, preferably two, and at least one that can snip the wire

Take one pearl and one piece of wire. Bend one end of the wire, at a right angle, about an inch or so in. I use the tip of my index finger and usually get about 3/4 of an inch.

Slide the pearl on to the wire, with one end butting up to the angle you just made.

Now, working with the long piece of wire, use your thumbs to carefully bend the wire, fitting it as close as you can to the curve of the pearl.

Make a loop-de-loop at about the widest part of the pearl, being careful to keep the wire tight and close to the pearl.
This is what your loop might look like.

Now the part of the wire that you’re working with is near the short angled end. Stand that short bit up and bend the long end around it, as close as possible to the hole, so that the wire is about 2/3 of the way around the pearl. Bend the short part back down to hold the pearl in place.

Use the longer part of the wire to make another loop-de-loop down the side of the pearl, meeting up with hole on the other side.

Now for the tricky part. Be very careful here.
You may need to ease the angle on the short end of the wire, to allow the pearl to slide down just a hair.
Very carefully, feed the long end of the wire UNDER the piece of wire coming out of the hole and leading into the first loop you made.

Pull it tightly, making sure that all the wire is still smooth against the pearl without distorting the loops. Bend the long end of the wire around so there are now three angles of about 120 degrees (evenly spaced, that’s all).  This will be the bottom of the wrapped pearl.

Make one final loop-de-loop up the side, ending up back where the short end extends from the hole.

Wrap the working end of the wire partway around the short end, and use the snippy pliers to trim off as much excess as you can. Then take the clipped end and wrap it tightly around the extending part of the wire, using pliers to pull it tightly.

You are done with this pearl for now. Repeat this process with the other three pearls and come back when you’re done.
All ready to go on? Okay, good. Choose two pearls that you want to put together.

Pick up one pearl and a pair of pliers. Bend the extending wire into half of a loop, but don’t close it yet!

Pick up the other pearl, and look at the bottom of it, where the wire makes three angles. Find a good spot where you can wiggle the wire in underneath, and connect the two pearls together. Now close the loop carefully and wrap the remaining bit of wire around, just like before.

Lather, rinse, and repeat: bend the short extending wire into part of a loop, and feed it through the bottom loop on the earwire.
Close the loop, just as before.

Voila! You have a gorgeous earring! Repeat the connecting process again, and you’ll have a matched pair!

Of course this is not the only way to do wire-wrapping, just my current favorite. Do you know of a cool wire-wrapping pattern? Have you been intimidated to try it? I think you should get some beads and wire and try it!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. studiokako
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:22:42

    Omg I want these. (I realize I could make them myself, but I’m a visual person and some of the instructions sound a bit tricky. Eh, trial and error I guess)

    Reply

  2. kako
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 13:28:20

    After much trial and error (without re-consulting your tutorial) I came back and re-read your tut. Somehow it makes perfect sense this time around. I guess I just needed to try it out and learn how the wire wraps around the pearls in able to learn how to do it right. Haha.

    Reply

    • Jamie B
      Aug 09, 2012 @ 16:05:29

      Haha! This is definitely the kind of thing that’s a little easier to DO than to read about, and gets easier with practice. Once you know what’s going on, it’s easier and easier to get it to look good. The hardest part for me, I think, is not always being able to see exactly what’s happening (because your thumbs are in the way), but that’s not that big of a deal.

      Reply

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