Exclusive Free Jewelry-Making Project: Make a Baroque Wire Pendant with Gayle Bird

Gayle Bird, author of the popular new wire jewelry-making book Freeform Wire Art Jewelry, has created this exclusive free jewelry-making project just for you, enjoy!make this baroque wire and bead pendant by Gayle Bird

Baroque Wire and Bead Pendant
by Gayle Bird

Gayle BirdThis beautiful little pendant can be glitzy and glam while being relatively quick to whip up. If you want to be meticulous and precise with your wrapping, you can spend longer on the piece–but I’m not that sort of artist! I like loose and free, which is why my measurements, tools, and materials lists are mostly of the “ish” variety, with any number of alternatives available. It’s not just because I find measuring things slows me down and dampens my creativity–and it’s not just because I forget measurements from one second to the next, either (I am a terrible baker but a great cook!). The real idea is to work with what you’ve got and be free to make something unique to you!

baroque wire and bead pendant alternative designs by Gayle Bird

alternative designs

As it is, I like the loose wrap look and my hands sure appreciate it, too. Depending on the colors you choose (color is a huge deal to me and I go on, at length, about color choices in my book), the size of your frame, and the beads you pick, this can be a truly luxurious, opulent piece that will steal the focus in any room–or it can be a quick, simple little bit of bling to dress up any outfit. I’d sure love to see everyone’s interpretations!

Materials

~ 8″ of 18g wire (more for a larger pendant)
~ 3′ of 24-26g wire (more for closer wraps)
bail-making pliers of various sizes or round mandrels such as pens, markers, wooden rods
4-10mm round beads of your choice (bead sizes should approximately match mandrel sizes)
1-4mm round beads same color as wire
bail

 

Steps

1.       First, use a medium mandrel to make a perfect loop at the end of your 18g wire. This will be the top of the pendant where the bail will attach to the necklace.
2.       Use a larger mandrel to make another loop in the wire directly below the first loop.
3.       Switch mandrel sizes and make another loop on the opposite side.
4.       Continue switching sizes and sides; go back and forth making a random series of loops to create a pendant-sized shape (your choice! See? “ish!”) The loops should all approximately touch one another, so you’ll find you might have to adjust the loop placement with your hands a bit. Avoid using the mandrels once the loops are already shaped; you can too easily dent the wire. As for the final shape, you could absolutely make this symmetrical, but I’m not a huge fan of symmetry! I find it a little bit boring and also, way too finicky!
5.       When you’re happy with the shape of your wire frame, create a small loop at the end of the wire and cut off the rest to create the bottom of the piece. You should balance it approximately central to the top loop. This is now your pendant frame!
6.       Lay out your beads in an appealing colorway on top of the wire loop frame. The beads should mostly fill in the holes, but it’s OK if there are spaces. Aim for contrast and dynamic lines by varying the sizes.
7.       Pick the beads out of the frame and place them approximately in the same position on your workspace. Use a piece of fabric or foam underneath them to keep them from rolling about.
8.       Cut a length of thin wire (I used 26g, but 24g works just fine as well) about 1 foot long. You can cut longer, because at this length we’ll definitely need to attach more later, but I find that longer wire is easier to kink and harder to work with. Wrap about an inch of the thin wire through the top loop in the frame, and hold down the inch-long tail to secure it against the frame while you wrap through and around the loop.
9.       Secure the end loop around the frame and loosely (or tightly, depending on what you like!) wrap your way along the frame until you reach the approximate center of a loop. Slip on a small metal bead and wrap it to the frame.
10.   Wrap 3-5 times; then slip on another metal bead, then repeat. The third metal bead should be slightly larger, but doesn’t have to be–and then keep going until you’re in the center on the other side of the loop–adding metal beads if the loop is free, or wrapping around two double frame wires if it’s not.
11.   Consult your “map” of colored beads and slip on the one that goes into this loop, and attach it by wrapping to the other side.
12.   Well, now you’re back where you started, so in this case we’ll go down the other side. Here is an example of the round, large loop you should create to avoid kinks. Note my thumb stuck in the loop to guide it through.
13.   At this point we’re already at the midpoint of the next loop, so add the next colored bead, attaching it and, in the process, wrapping the frame loops together to secure them.
14.   Continue adding colored beads with small metal beads along the outside edges in this manner until you run out of wire. Cut the wire and tamp it down in the back, tightly, around just one width of wire frame.
15.   Attach another piece of thin wire where you left off. Here I show you that same large loop, this time with the small metal bead attached. Hold the small metal bead in place with your thumb as you pull the wire through to keep it from slipping around on the wire.
16.   When all of your loops are full of beads, assess the final piece. Are you missing anything? If so, add more wire and beads.
17.   Attach a bail to the top loop, and voila! Baroque-looking wire and bead pendant, lush and beautiful.
freeform wire and bead pendant by Gayle Bird

another design option

Get 20 more fabulous wire jewelry projects from Gayle in her hot book, Freeform Wire Art Jewelry or download the digital version instantly!

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