Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wire-wrapped Copper Heart Pendant

I'm going to dedicate a few posts to describing how I made the focal pendant and clasp I sent my partner, Kate, for this round of BSBP (Bead Soup Blog Party).
This is the copper wire pendant I sent Kate:

It's freeform, in that I had no pattern to follow. I was basically flying by the seat of my pants, with just a rough idea of where I wanted to end up. But that's what makes it fun!

I started by drawing an abstract paper heart, the size and shape I wanted the pendant to be, on some scrap paper. Then I cut out the paper heart.

Using a tape measure, I (roughly) measured the circumference of the heart I'd drawn, and added about an inch. I believe my measurement was about 6 inches, so I cut a piece of 14g dead soft square copper wire that length. If you don't have 14g, 12g is fine. And if you don't have dead soft, you'll probably have to anneal the wire before proceeding. (Which will lead to having to pickle the wire to remove the firescale - which is why I love dead soft!)

I knew that wherever I started forming the heart would also be where I ended, in other words, I needed to pick my starting point carefully because that's where I would end up doing some wire-wrapping to join the ends together. (I could have soldered them together, but this was a wire-wrapping project, not a soldering project!)

I chose the center top of the heart, figuring that adding some binding wires there would result in the best balance in the finished design. I started my design about 3/4" from the end of the wire, and laid the wire on top of my cut-out paper heart. Using my thumbs, I gently bent the wire to follow the various curves I had drawn, with the except of the 90 degree bend the heart takes at the bottom right - here, I used my flat nose pliers to put a 90 degree kink in the wire, before continuing to curve the wire along my paper template.

When I reached the beginning/end of the design, I left about another 3/4" of wire, and then cut off the excess.

It's important to point out that during this whole shape-forming process, you have to be very careful not to twist the square wire while you are bending it. You want the same surface of the square wire to face upward during the entire process.

Where the beginning and end of the wire met at the top of the heart, I crossed them over each other and then used just enough 24g round copper wire (also dead soft) to form a binding wrap that held the heart shape together. Then I used my round nose pliers to form a loop in both the free ends, bending them around to meet the inside border of the top of the heart, using care again not to twist the square wire. Then I wrapped around these loops and the outside frame of the heart again, until it was secure, and carefully tucked in the ends of the binding wire. No sharp edges!

Then I used a chasing hammer to texture the copper heart frame, resulting in this:

I could have added a bail or jumpring to this and called it a day, but I felt like it needed ... more. So I went searching for suitable embellishments, and chose turquoise blue matrix jasper.

I played with this a little on the paper heart template first. I had already decided against wrapping the jasper directly on the frame, encircling the heart with beads, because I really wanted to fill the wide-open center that was staring at me. I wanted to see how to best wire the jasper to the heart on paper before proceeding, because I didn't want to mar my pretty, shiny, textured copper heart. I really wanted an odd number of "strands" of jasper crossing the heart, because there is something so right about odd numbers in jewelry design. But 3 wasn't enough, and I couldn't make 5 fit. Until I hit upon the idea of having the 5th strand just cross one of the shoulders of the heart!

I used the 24g round copper wire again, securing it to one side of the heart, stringing on some jasper rounds, and then taking it across to the other side. I had a few false starts - one too many jaspers, one too few, attaching in the wrong spot - but I finally hit my rhythm, and got the 5 strands on there in a way that was very pleasing to me.

Next, I cut a 14g jump ring on the largest mandrel I had, and placed it in the top shoulder of the heart. It looked a little plain, so I wrapped it in more of the 24g round copper wire to give it a little texture. Then I put the whole piece in the tumbler for 2 hours to shine it and harden it, and here it is again:

I like the texture that is mirrored by the wrapped jumpring, the joining wrap at the top of the heart, and the wraps that attach the jasper wires to the frame. Very unifying!

1 comment:

Maggie said...

I love hearts and yours is very pretty. When the big reveal comes around, I'll have to see what Kate does with it.