Things You'll Need
- 20-gauge wire
- 28-gauge wire
- Wire cutters
- Round-nose pliers
- 4 crystal or glass beads
- 4 sterling silver head pins
- Sterling silver necklace chain
- 4 jump rings
Weaving, though typically thought of as a textile art, is easily transferred to metal and jewelry making though the use of wire in sterling silver and other fine metals, according to jewelry artist Barbara Berk of The Ganoskin Project. Artists and crafters can make individual woven elements for larger jewelry pieces, or make entire pieces by weaving strands of wire as if they were wool or cotton. You can make a pendant with wire by weaving with the Soumak technique, a rug-weaving pattern named for the city in Azerbaijan where it is said to have originated, according to Berk.
Cut four 4-inch pieces of 20-gauge sterling silver wire with the wire cutters.
Clamp a small padded vise to the edge of your work surface and place the ends of the wire pieces in the vise. The wires should be from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch apart depending on the desired finished width of your piece.
Take the end of the 28-gauge wire from the spool and unreel several feet, enough so you can comfortably manipulate its end. Don't cut the wire from the spool.
Wrap the 28-gauge wire around the first 20-gauge wire on the right, leaving a 1-inch tail. The 28-gauge wire should wrap all the way around the 20-gauge wire from the top, going across the wire, under and back up like an upside-down lowercase cursive "e." Repeat to the last wire.
Push the wires up toward the vise. After wrapping the fourth wire in the row, bend the 28-gauge wire back toward the third wire in the row and wrap each wire in the row, making sure the wraps are going in the same direction as the first row. Push the wires up at the end of the row, turn and continue wrapping until you have wrapped all but 1/4 inch of wire.
Cut the 28-gauge wire, leaving a 1/2-inch tail. Wrap around the last wire, close to the bottom of the last wrap, and push the end of the 28-gauge wire up along the inside of the 20-gauge wire so it is secured between the last wire and the wraps. Repeat on the other end of the woven piece with the tail of the 28-gauge wire at the beginning of the Soumak wrap.
Thread one bead onto each of the sterling silver headpins. Use the round-nose jewelry pliers to create a loop in the wire of the headpin above the bead and wrap the wire around the stem under the loop several times to secure. Trim off the excess wire with the wire cutters. Repeat for each headpin.
Turn the end of each 20-gauge wire on the bottom of your Soumak piece up with your needle-nose pliers. Add one beaded headpin to each wire. Bring the ends of the 20-gauge wires all the way around the round-nose pliers to create loops that secure the beaded headpins and finish the woven ends. Clip off the excess 20-gauge wire with the wire cutters.
Remove the other end of the piece from the vise. Wrap the end of each 20-gauge wire on this end to create a loop, as you did with the other end, minus the beaded headpins.
Cut off two 8-inch lengths of sterling silver chain with the wire clippers. Open the links at each end and insert one jump ring in each open link. Attach one end of the clasp of your choice to the jump rings on one end of each of the chains and close with the pliers.
Put one jump ring on the other end of one length of chain through the loop on the far left side of upper end of the woven piece and close the jump ring with the pliers. Repeat with the jump ring on the end of the other length of chain and the loop on the far right side of the woven piece. Your woven Soumak piece is now a vertical pendant suspended between the two lengths of chain with the beads dangling off its ends.
Add more lengths of 20-gauge wire to make a wider piece. Fan the ends of the wire out or in at the ends to create different shapes.
Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. Reed was editor of the "Grand Ledge Independent" weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter "Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden.