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Wire grid collage necklace

Wire plays a supporting role in this fun collage piece created for a bead society challenge!
Full image
Steel wire of all gauges is available at your local hardware or home improvement stores. You might find it called rebar tie wire (thicker gauges) or stovepipe wire (thinner gauges). It’s also called dark annealed steel wire.

When confronted with a color palette that wasn’t in my comfort zone, I made a wire grid to bear cool found objects and beads. 

SUPPLIES

Necklace 20 in. (50.8 cm)

  • Steel wire
    • 26 1⁄2 in. (67.3 cm) 18-gauge (1.0 mm)  
    • 4 ft. (1.2 m) 20-gauge (0.8 mm)
    • 3–4 ft. (0.9–1.2 m) 28-gauge wire
  • Various found objects, such as tack pins, large beads, small containers, hollow forms, and disk-shaped “framing” pieces
  • Assorted small beads, crystals, heishi-shaped beads, sequins, or washers
  • 12-in. (30.5 cm) strand of 6 mm round beads 
  • 1 1⁄2–2-in. (38–51 mm) head pins
  • 2 crimp beads
  • 2 crimp covers
  • Flexible beading wire, .014 or .015
  • Waxed linen cord
  • Two-part epoxy clay (black)
  • Wirework toolbox
  • Now That’s a Jig! or similar wire jig with appropriate screwdriver
  • Now That’s a Jig! SwiveLok accessory
  • Heavy-duty wire cutters strong enough to cut 18-gauge steel wire
  • Steel wool or brass brush
  • Microcrystalline wax with clean cloth
  • Flex shaft with 5⁄64-in. (2 mm) drill bit
  • Awl
  • Palette knife or dental tool
  • Crimping pliers

Now That’s a Jig!, SwiveLok accessory, and steel wire available from www.etsy.com/shop/brendaschweder. Wire is also available at hardware and home improvement stores.

INSTRUCTIONS

Armature

Wire grid collage necklace_a
PHOTO A
Wire grid collage necklace_b
PHOTO B

1. Refer to (PHOTO A) to set up the jig with two 1⁄4-in. (6.5 mm) pegs, 12 1⁄8-in. (3 mm) pegs, and the SwiveLok accessory positioned at the upper left. Cut 2 ft. (61 cm) of 18-gauge wire with heavy-duty wire cutters. Leaving a 11⁄2-in. (38 mm) tail, wind the wire clockwise around the upper-left peg, and tighten the SwiveLok to secure the wire.

2. Wrap the remaining wire clockwise around each peg, ending with the peg at the 9 o’clock position (PHOTO B).

Wire grid collage necklace_c
PHOTO C
Wire grid collage necklace_d
PHOTO D
3. Loosen the SwiveLok, and wrap the wire around the upper-left peg. Twist together the working wire and tail below the peg three or four times. Trim the ends just below the twist (PHOTO C). Remove the armature from the pegs.

4. Use a utility hammer to flatten and work-harden the armature, tapping lightly over the wire intersections (PHOTO D). Maintain the original armature shape as you hammer.
Wire grid collage necklace_e
PHOTO E
Wire grid collage necklace_f
PHOTO F

5. Cut 4 ft. (1.2 m) of 20-gauge wire. Tightly wrap the 20-gauge wire three or four times around the bottom of the upper-right corner loop (PHOTO E)

6. Bring the wire across the inside of the armature, and guide it through the closest bottom loop (not a corner loop). Straighten the wire as needed with nylon-jaw pliers. Continue guiding the wire through the top and bottom loops of the armature, creating a zigzag pattern and skipping the bottom center loop (PHOTO F).

Wire grid collage necklace_g
PHOTO G
Wire grid collage necklace_h
PHOTO H

7. Continue to zigzag across the inside of the armature, filling the space and creating a grid. The bottom corner loops should have one pass of wire, and each remaining loop (including the bottom center loop) should have at least two passes of wire (PHOTO G). End at the upper-right loop, and wrap around it several times to finish. Trim the excess wire close to the loop (PHOTO H).

8. Clean the armature with steel wool or a wire brush, and seal it with microcrystalline wax.


Found-object embellishments

Wire grid collage necklace_i
PHOTO I
Wire grid collage necklace_j
PHOTO J
9. Prepare your found objects by trimming tack pins with heavy-duty cutters and drilling two holes through undrilled pieces with a flex shaft (PHOTO I)

10. For each found object: Cut a 4–6-in. (10.2–15.2 cm) piece of 28-gauge wire, bend the wire in half, and thread the ends through the drilled holes (PHOTO J). Twist together the wires behind the object. Do not trim these wires as you continue to embellish in the following steps.
Wire grid collage necklace_k
PHOTO K
Wire grid collage necklace_l
PHOTO L

11. Use larger dish-shaped objects to frame a few of the found objects and partition the composition (PHOTO K). Use an awl or flex shaft to pierce the pieces where you want to anchor each object (PHOTO L).

12. To decorate large beads or drilled objects: Cut a 4–6-in. (10.2–15.2 cm) piece of 28-gauge wire, and center a smaller bead or crystal on the wire. 

Wire grid collage necklace_m
PHOTO M
Wire grid collage necklace_n
PHOTO N
Fold the wire, and thread the ends through heishi-shaped beads, sequins, or washers and a found object (PHOTOS M and N).
Wire grid collage necklace_o
PHOTO O
Wire grid collage necklace_p
PHOTO P

If desired, string a washer on the back of the object to support it from beneath (PHOTO O)

13. To create seed pods: Mix a small amount of epoxy clay according to the manufacturer’s directions, and fill a hollow object using a palette knife (PHOTO P).

Wire grid collage necklace_q
PHOTO Q
Wire grid collage necklace_r
PHOTO R

Embellish the interior with beads mounted on head pins (cut to fit). Bury the ends of the head pins in the clay (PHOTO Q).

14. To create the dangle: On a length of linen cord, string two or three beads, and knot between them (PHOTOS R and S).

Wire grid collage necklace_s
PHOTO S

Assembly
Wire grid collage necklace_t
PHOTO T
Wire grid collage necklace_u
PHOTO U

15. Place the larger embellishments (or embellishment groupings) first by tightly twisting their wires around the armature. If possible, attach them to a wire intersection rather than to a single wire (PHOTO T). Do not trim the wire ends yet.

16. Continue to attach embellishments, filling in the armature as desired.

17. Tie on the string of beads from step 14, and use linen cord to attach any other hanging embellishments (PHOTO U).
 
18. Tighten and trim the twisted wires, and bend the ends into the armature (PHOTO V).
Wire grid collage necklace_v
PHOTO V


For clasp and necklace strap instructions, along with corresponding images, please view our free, downloadable PDF!

FIND MORE: wirework , necklaces

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