Bob Keller's 'Mount Ida Heart', custom wrapped for Bob by Mavis Llewellyn, using the approach and techniques described in this how-to article.

How to Wirewrap
A Faceted Pendant That Does Away With Claws
Designed by Mavis Llewellyn, as Featured in Wired

Have you ever wished for a more attractive way to mount a stone in a pendant than the old-fashioned use of "claws"? Mavis Llewellyn used wire wrapping in the project presented here, for that very reason. Mavis' pendant was the project of the month in a recent issue of Wired. Here are Mavis' step-by-step instructions for this lovely pendant project, to introduce you to one of the things wire wrapping can do.

Be aware, however, that wire wrapping is very versatile, as art forms go, and can be used not only in lapidary, but in combination with beading and even by itself, to create designs to be displayed or worn that are made of nothing but cleverly wrapped wire.

A jig of some sort is often used to aid the wire wrapper (whether beading is involved or not), such as the Wigjig described in "The Wonders of Wire" in the April 1996 issue of Jewelry Crafts.

Note from Mavis: I developed the design presented in this article about 10 years ago. I just wasn't happy with the typical faceted stone design with claws, as I found that the stones could come out of the settings too easily. This design is my way of getting around those claws. You will find also that the stone in this design is very secure. I have had many people asking me to teach or publish it over the years, along with my faceted ring stone designs (they will be featured in forthcoming issues of Wired). So here it is folks, hope you enjoy it!

Materials Needed for This Project:
  • 4 feet of 20-gauge square soft wire
  • 1 foot of 22-gauge half-round hard wire
  • 4 1/2 inches of 22-gauge square hard wire
  • A faceted stone

1: Cut six pieces of 20-gauge square soft wire each 8 inches long. The depth of the stone coincides with the wire when they are lined up so the stone doesn't fall onto one side when it is finished. Cut two pieces of tape and secure each end of your wires. Find the middle and mark with a fine felt-tip pen. Line the stone up with the center. Now you need to determine how many binding wires are going to be used for the middle section (approx. 1/4 inch for the 12-carat size used in these illustrations). Cut a 5-inch piece of 22-gauge half-round hard wire. (No need to file the ends as the edge will be against the stone.)

2: Using flat-nose pliers, fold over about 1/16 inch of the 22-gauge half-round wire to prepare to bind the six pieces of 20 square soft together. Take this hook and move it out of parallel slightly (with your flat-nose pliers), so that it is on a gentle slant, and where you've marked the center, start your binding. Again, depending on the size of the stone, approximately six turns. Finish off the binding and fold over with flat-nose pliers.

3: Make sure you have finished off on the same side as you started. Now turn your work over, and from the binding, measure and mark 1/4 inch and then measure and mark another 1/4 inch from this mark. Do the same thing on the other side.

4: Remove the tapes, and with a penknife, slide the blade up between the first and second wires and pull the first wire out at a slight angle. Do the same on the other side. Where you put the first 1/4-inch mark, bend the wire down slightly and, where it is marked on the second 1/4 inch, bend it up so that the wire now runs parallel to the other wires. Do the same on the other side. Retape ends.

5: You might need to do minor adjustments at the markings to make sure everything lines up okay. Apply binding, starting at the outer mark, and work outward for four turns. Do the same on the other side.

6: As in Step 5, measure and compare spaces between center binding and outer binding. If not the same, adjust the outer binding with your flat-nose pliers. Now form the wires around the mandrel at the center binding, making sure the binding ends are on the inside.

7: Periodically, take the wires and place the stone in the curve, making sure it's a good fit with the bindings sitting just under the edge of the stone. Prepare triangular points for holding the stone.

Some Helpful Hints:

Your stone should be sitting on the top wire. For the two triangular points to hold your stone securely in place, you will need to carefully guide these just over the top of your stone by working the tip of the point outward. Then slant it in toward the stone. By removing and then replacing your stone while you work, you can determine the degree of the slant. Both points will need slight adjustments until you've achieved the correct degree of slant over the edge of the gemstone. (The reason for working the tip of the points outward first is to make the base of the triangle--as indicated by the two white arrows--the seating for the stone.) Pull the points inward to secure the stone.

When using oval stones, mark the center by using a thin piece of masking tape.



8: Continue bending the wires until you reach the top of the stone. The wires should cross over at the center of the stone. Where the wires cross, bend one side straight up, using flat-nose pliers. Then do the same with the other side. Align them and tape them as shown.

9: Cut a piece of 22-gauge square hard wire and bend it into a U shape, leaving 3/4 of an inch at one end. Place it on the wires and hold it in place with the pliers. Bind four times, moving toward the oval, as shown.

10: Again, check that your stone is sitting correctly in the curve of the wires, with the bindings just under the edge of the stone.

11: Now remove the tape and, with your penknife, spread open the wires. Then separate and bring the top two wires forward, over the front of the piece, and tape them together.

12: Cut a piece of 22-gauge half-round hard wire and bind these two wires, starting as close as possible to the top, about five turns in all. Remove the tape and spread the wires out. Curve the binding forward with your pliers. Start binding here.

13: Put the stone in place by tucking it under the tips of the points first, then bring your two bound wires forward, giving them a slight curve just over the top of the stone, as shown.

14: Where the two wires are spread at the top of the mounting, bring them down on each side, across the mounting, toward the back. Make a curve in the first wire and thread it through so that it comes out just below the base of the triangle, through the V shape.

15: Now bring the wire all the way through and lay it flat against the mount. Cut off, leaving enough wire to tuck in. Repeat these steps for the second wire.

16: Bring down the rest of the wires, one at a time, leaving two for the eye loop. Cut off and curve in toward the top of the stone, forming what will look like a crown.

17: At this stage, go back to the two points and adjust them so they are holding the stone securely. Cut the last two wires, at the top of the pendant, about 1/2-inch long. Spread them slightly and make the loops so that they overlap.

18: To prepare an eye, cut a 1 3/4-inch piece of 22-gauge square hard wire. Put a loop in one end and center it. Now put a loop at the other end, facing the opposite way, and center it too.

19: To form the eye, bring the two loops together so that they overlap. The loops should be sitting side by side so you can open and close them like the two ends of a jump ring. Feed the eye through the loop on the top of your pendant, and you're all done!


Just For The Wired
by Helen Goga, Writer for Wired
Wire Artists Group Web Site

In April, 1998 and four enterprising Canadians recognized that there was no publication dedicated to the needs of wire wrappers. They formed the Wire Artists Group and launched a monthly newsletter. They called it Wired.

Wired is an acronym for Wire-artists International Resources, Education and Development, and the Groupís goal is to help wire artists become the best they can be. The newsletter provides timely information in a feature column, a feature project, a beginnersí project, a business how-to column, a forum for questions and answers, tips and techniques, and a calendar of events for the upcoming year. By doing so, it has opened a channel for wire artists to be seen and heard. And the wire artists love it!

In April, 1997 I was eager to learn all about wire art and that led me to meet Mavis Llewellyn and her daughter, Susan, of Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Mavis became a wire artist in 1959 when she and her late husband, Jim, came to Canada from England and he decided to turn his hobby into a business.

Mavis says, "At that time, I was developing skills in cutting and polishing stones and, like everyone else in the hobby, found I wanted to set them. Jim suggested setting these pieces in wire and it seemed the natural thing to do." Over the years Mavis has contributed to the wire-art industry through countless hours as an instructor.

Though Mavis is self-taught, she is responsible for some of the most beautiful and complex designs. She is very proud of her English heritage and many of her creations and designs reflect Celtic patterns and folklore. It is for this reason that she has established herself at the forefront of her art. Mavis has been making jewelry for more than 35 years and continues to express her appreciation of her artform. She has brought her wire-art business through many hard, lean years.

Susan Llewellyn-Smith, Mavisís daughter, grew up with wire, beads and gemstones all around her, so it was no surprise when she began her career as a wire artist at the ripe old age of eight. Consequently, she, too, is an accomplished artist who has participated in the world of wire art for the last 27 years. Having grown up in the family business, the Amulet, Susan eventually expanded it (with the help of Dee MacLeod) to include other artists in their community under the business banner, Originals. Being the mother of two children, Michelle, age 11, and Kyle, who is seven, she has been coaching her children in the same manner her parents did with her . . . perpetuating an art that has virtually disappeared in the country from which Mavis and Jim brought it.

Tucked Away

In June of 1996, Susan approached a print broker about starting a newsletter. He gave Susan a quote but, not having the time or the knowhow to launch the idea, she tucked it away. However, the idea was never too far removed from her mind. Susan says, "I really wanted something in which to to acknowledge my motherís work." Adding, "Over the years, we have had a large number of phone calls and letters from artists all over the world asking questions and seeking whatever bits of information they could get." Susan recognized the need for an open forum, the desire to be part of a group as well as the opportunity to learn from one another.

"As a group, it would be nice to share ideas and designs and give credit to individual artists for their original designs." The fourth member of the Group, Alan Gooding, I met while we were both attending a business course at the Small Business Center in London, Ontario. "May I buy you a coffee?" he asked one morning, while we were standing by the FREE coffee table. I liked his style! Being an accredited member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), he offered his skills as a publicist to help build my wire-art business.

Even though he knew nothing about the world of rocks and gems or about wire art, Alan quickly expressed a keen interest and, before he realized it, he became a rockhound-in-training. His favorite piece is a large, highly-polished labradorite from Madagascar, two inches across, that he carries with him at all times.

Subcontracting

Left to right, Helen Goga, Mavis Llewellyn, Alan Gooding and Susan Llewellyn at the 1999 Tucson Show.

In the spring of 1998, I asked Susan if she would be interested in subcontracting through a mail-order catalogue that Alan was preparing for my business. Susan recognized the opportunity to revive the concept of a newsletter. "I saw that Alan had the publishing skills, my mom had the designs and Helen had the business knowhow to market and sell the concept." The rest, as they say, is history; in this case, history in the making.

The first issue of Wired (now renamed The Wire Artist Jeweller) was released in September, 1998. At present, the publication is sold as back issues only. At the Wire Jeweler Web Site you can browse the available projects along with information on two books, Chains by Becky and Earrings by Helen. Further information including a sample article and a free sample tutorial is also available on the Wire Jeweler site. You can also contact us by by e-mail: helen@wirejeweler.com; by phone: (519) 461-9004; or by writing: Helen Goga, P.O.Box 123, Thorndale, Ontario, N0M 2P0, Canada. We'd be delighted to hear from you.


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Bob Keller