My First Wire Bezel

This is the first wire bezel that I’ve ever made. It was done entirely for the sake of practice, which is why a lot of it isn’t right, but I don’t mind. Recently, I signed up for an online wire weaving class on making bezels. (I did a lot of the things my way and showed disregard for instructions when making this one, so I won’t say which class it was because I don’t want to misrepresent it. After I make some more in the proper manner, I’ll include a link to the class in the post.)

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It measures 3.9 cm or 1.5 inches from top to bottom, and the width is 2.9 cm, or a little under 1 and 1/8 inches.

Since I didn’t want to just do a practice weave for the sake of practicing, I decided to use my practice wires to make an actual bezel. I had a ceramic heart that I made for the sake of testing an underglaze color. (See? Even my test tiles are not just in the shape of tiles and were made to have other possible purposes.) At first it was destined to become a magnet, but after seeing some other people wire wrap (not weave) a bezel for a heart-shaped stone, I realized that it was possible to weave a bezel for a heart-shaped cabochon.

This project was different to begin with because in the class we were taught to use 30-40 mm cabochons. (I have subsequently made various cabochons that size but they’re currently being fired and I will have to glaze them.) My ceramic heart is about 26 mm at its widest. That was why I only left two inches of wire on each side for my bail, instead of three. I decided to make my bail smaller, so it would be proportionate to the rest of the pendant.

P1090896cqAlthough I measured my “stone” all the way around, and wove that length, I discovered that I didn’t want the weaving to go all the way into the “dip” in the heart, so I had to cut off the extra weaving. Since this is practice and I didn’t want to waste wire (even though it’s just silver plated copper), I straightened the pieces to reuse them. (That’s usually not advised because the wire would have already hardened some from being manipulated and would be harder to work with and more likely to snap.) I used one of the 26 gauge pieces for weaving the bail, even though we were told to use 28 gauge wire for that. Unfortunately, it was too short, so I ran out and needed to add more wire, from the spool. The other piece was used on the backside, which explains why it looks kind of crinkled and might not feel smooth to wear comfortably. But that’s fine since this piece was intended for practice only anyway.

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There’s no color on the backside of the cabochon because I can’t put glaze on the bottom of pieces or else they’ll stick to the kiln shelf. In order to make ceramic beads, I’ll need to buy a wire tree to hold them, but I’m too cheap and lazy to at this point in time.

I know that I need more practice because I had a hard time keeping the warp wires the same width apart, and it’s noticeable from the sides.

P1090900qSo even though I cut a lot of corners and used entirely different materials from those suggested in the course, and made something less than perfect, I got some practice and I am still happy with the result.

Tiny Tree of Life Pendants

A couple of nights ago I was lying in bed when I thought I should attempt to make a tiny Tree of Life pendant (more like a charm). It actually wasn’t my idea; I had read about a challenge to make a wire wrapped Tree of Life that’s smaller than a nickel.

Yesterday evening I gave it a try, and here’s the result.

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The nickel is in there for scale. My use of purple seed beads would make these resemble flowering Jacaranda mimosifolia.

I struggled at first with making the frame, because I thought a wrapped loop would look disproportionately large on a small ring. That’s why I did the three loops, and secured the ends of the ring when wrapping the tree branch. Then I discovered the three loops are practically impossible to replicate exactly. (It’s possible that I just need a lot more practice, or maybe it can be done using a jig.) At first I thought I would use these charms for earrings, since they’re small and light, but then decided against it. When it comes to earrings, I prefer that the frames be close to identical. I don’t mind if the trees aren’t identical, because it’s even more difficult to make identical trees than it is to make identical frames. (But if people actually want mismatched earrings that don’t look deliberately mismatched—like the outer two in the photo above—then I’ll make them.)

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Although the trees aren’t identical, the size and style of the frames are similar enough for me to use them for earrings.

The tree part was actually fairly easy and enjoyable to make. I used 26 gauge wire for it, so it’s easy to bend. It takes me about half an hour to make one piece from start to finish, so I am seriously considering selling these. Because they are so small, there’s no room for complicated details, so the design remains simple, and I like that.

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The smallest one has a 1.4 cm diameter, and the larger one has a 1.6 cm diameter.

I made the ring by wrapping the 18 gauge wire around a ring mandrel. I started out at size 5. Making the tree was easier than I thought it would be. Then I decided to try size 2. Once again, no problem. To challenge myself more, I tried size 1. (After wrapping the loop, the ring got smaller so that it no longer fit on the mandrel.) That one actually was challenging, and it took the longest to make. I’m satisfied that the whole piece fits on a nickel. I don’t plan to make another one like that any time soon.

DSCF7437qThe next morning, I couldn’t wait to try to make more, with wrapped loops, so they could be used for earrings. My fingers were still sore from the night before, so I didn’t have as good control of the wire as I would have liked. It took three attempts before I had two frames that were close enough in size, but during the process I scraped the silver plating off the wire on one of them. However, it’s not noticeable after I wrapped the 26 gauge wire on.

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Clip-on earrings, because I don’t have pierced ears, but I have ear hooks for those who do. This one has a 1.6 cm diameter.