Daily Wire Tip: Wire Wrapping China

By on October 31, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

Hi! I’m just getting started with wire wrapping and have been reading the Tips of the Day each day. It seems like you can wrap just about anything – is that right? I have some lovely pieces of broken dishes that I was thinking of using in necklaces, but the edges are a little rough. Can I wrap things like these, and what’s the best way to smooth off the edges so they don’t catch on a sweater or blouse? Thanks!

-Ingrid in Zachary, Louisiana

Answer:

Yes Ingrid, you can wrap about anything! I have made pendants using pieces of broken pottery and stoneware. To do so I first use a Dremel to smooth the most dangerous edges and then a regular frame wrap to make pendants. As for using china or a more brittle material, I also recommend using a Dremel, and be sure to wear leather gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself!

Depending on how elaborate you desire the setting to be or the shape of it, either a frame wrap or the “Anything” Harness works very well. You could even use a pronged frame. Have fun making memories that will last for generations!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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23 Comments

  1. avatar

    bh

    November 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

    The edges of ceramic, such as dishes, can also be smoothed with a carborundum file, such is used on glass. This is not powered and so a little easier to use as well as cheaper and more available. If you are only doing a small amount, the power tool is overkill and harder to control.

  2. avatar

    Sheila

    November 1, 2010 at 7:42 am

    If you decide you really want to get into this artistry long term you may consider purchasing a glass grinder. Although they are costly – they do a great job and have many other uses. I find that they do a very nice job on glass and china pieces. Also I can create an indent to set in my wire if the material is thick enough. (ie fuzed glass pieces)

  3. avatar

    Bonnie

    November 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I’ve also been wrapping pieces of glass and pottery…I put them in the tumbler for a couple days to remove any sharp edges! Works well.

  4. avatar

    Ginni Tutterow

    November 1, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I myself have a pretty rigorous standard for what I’ll wire wrap. If there’s teeth or it’s running fast, it’s a no-go for me…My cats try to avoid long naps in the work room.

    • avatar

      Gail

      April 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Too funny!! I, too, follow this standard. Although if it has teeth and they have fallen out – tiny pendants!!

    • avatar

      Linda B

      April 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      :-) LOL!

  5. avatar

    Paula Mion

    November 1, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I am a professional stained glass artist. The one thing you have to know about grinding any type of glass is it must be wet while doing so. The reason is, the dust created by any grinding is toxic to our lungs. Small particles of silica embed themselves in our lungs which over time will cause what is called “white” lung. If you are not able to use water, then do the grinding outside or use a respirator.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      November 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

      You are absolutely correct Paula – I always work with water and have no idea why I neglected that fact in my answer – thanks so much!!

  6. avatar

    Becky Bracken

    November 1, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I, too, love to wrap old pieces of glass. I explore the abandoned mines in Nevada and find beautiful pieces of china and glass that have been tossed down the mountain side by miners 100 years ago–priceless! Find where the old boarding house used to be and check the “wash” behind it–in those days, they just threw the trash down the hill and you can find some awsome treasures. The glass has been out in the elements for so long that it usually reqires little, if any grinding, and has turned beautiful colors. A simple wire wrapped frame usually does the trick.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      November 1, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Too cool Becky! I’ll have to hunt for some while in the SW next year. Thanks for sharing!

  7. avatar

    DeLane

    November 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I, too, have been doing pottery and glass pieces into jewelry for several years. Fortuntely, I have a husband who has a cabbing machine, and he uses the carborundum cutter to cut the pieces, and the diamond grinders to smooth off the edges. Yes, these both use water! And he puts holes into the glass pieces using a diamond drill bit in his Dremel,- again, under water.
    Works well for me. Good luck, Ingrid!

  8. avatar

    Antico Perkins

    November 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    hi i’m a new comer to the this wire thing and i’m a student with a full time job and a family when do i find the time to make the things that i really want to make out of these wonderful memories i study and cook alot do i take my time and just let it happen or do i make some time from somewhere else

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      November 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm

      Antico, a lot of us can identify with your challenge. Most of us began making jewelry as a way to relax. When I had a full time job, I used to make jewelry in the evenings; sometimes while watching TV and sometimes not. Several of my students work on little tables in the family room while their family watches television. Yes, if you really want to do this, or anything not related to your regular routine, you will have to make time for it! As you have several, very worthy endeavors going right now maybe is not the time. Collect what you need for education and information and when you have graduated school and your children are older and can do more for themselves, you will have what you need to begin.

  9. avatar

    Barb Hiatt

    November 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    My solution to rough edges is very low tech compared to everyone else but it works well for me. I keep a fine grit sanding sponge on my work area to smooth the rough edges of items to wrap as well as the ends of cut wire. I have used this sanding sponge to knock the sharp edges off a piece of china that I made into a pendent and it worked quickly.

    I always smooth my binding wires with this sanding sponge before I make the first hook on any item where this will eventually touch skin like rings and bracelets. It makes my final product more comfortable to wear. The sponge has enough give to it that it will not bend the wire while knocking off any burrs due to cutting. This saves time when finishing an item. You can get these sponges at any hardware store in the paint department.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      November 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      Barb, thanks for giving us another quick way to smooth sharp edges – on about anything!

  10. avatar

    Carolynne

    November 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Wow – who’d thought? I’m just getting into this -I’ve not heard of wrapping pottery or ceramics… Any websites that I can look at and see some examples? The old miners throwaways sound so very interesting! Wonderful ideas!

    • avatar

      Tonie

      March 31, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Youtube has some wonderful wire wrapping tutorials! Just a moment on youtube and you will reap the rewards! So much fun!

  11. avatar

    pat gebes

    April 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Good ideas on how to smooth the edges of the glass/china pieces. I have a question. I have some Limoge dishes and two of them have chips in the edges. They would make great pendants. Any ideas on how to carefully break these? The ones without chips will have to remain whole for a while longer. I’m sitting here thinking of what other items I can sacrifice for pendants and bracelets. I can take a hammer to the plates but I’d rather be more selective and, if possible, Any thoughts on cutting or breaking would be appreciated.

    • avatar

      Jeannette Snyder

      April 21, 2012 at 4:38 am

      To cut up a plate use a tile saw. You can rent one from home depot. This way you can try out the tool without a major investment. If you do like cutting china then there is craigslist where you can usually find a good deal. Just do some research first.

  12. avatar

    Rebecca Vanover

    August 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

    To cut china, you may also use a tile nipper (a manual tool available at any hardware). Before you start cutting and/or breaking, using a grease pencil, draw around the specific area you want to cut, and, just like a coloring book, stay inside the lines using the tile nipper. This method will enable you to get several good sections from each piece of china. Speak to your hardware about protective gear, such as what type of gloves, eye covering, face mask, etc. specifically designed for glass & ceramics. Also, when working with glass & pottery for jewelry, wear long sleeves, pants & closed toe shoes.

  13. avatar

    Judy Parnell

    September 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

    This is a lovely idea – one of the grandchildren broke grandma’s dish she left one of the daughters. I took the pieces and made pendants for each of the girls. They all cried! It makes me feel sooooo good to be able to tether a family together through jewelry!

  14. avatar

    Jenifer Talbott

    June 3, 2014 at 6:31 am

    I will wire wrap just about anything…We live in an area wger 90 million year old fossils roll down the hill into our yard…I polish them and wrap em’!!
    I don’t know if this has been posted but you can score your piece in the shap you want and gently hammer (lightly) around the score lines…I use Gryphon ring saw with a diamond blade

  15. avatar

    Karen

    September 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    After reading some of the responses, I realized that Roman Glass was developed from shards of glass found buried for 100’s of years. As a jewelry designer, I incorporated these pieces into necklaces. One of my suppliers encased these pieces within antiqued silver settings. They have an iridescent appearance which I totally love. It seems they are becoming more difficult to “find” as the selection is very small and quite expensive. Does anyone know where Roman Glass can be found?

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