Skill Level: Intermediate
Technique: Wire weaving
As a Northwest Pacific coast artist, I enjoy using beads of labradorite, pearls, and smaller Swarovski® crystals, all in a monochromatic palette. In this particular design, the beads glow with fire and labradorescence, giving the look of heat running through a dragon's skin. Of course, if you prefer to weave using a different selection of beads, your results will inspire a new name for this design. A couple of different ideas are pictured at the end of this pattern, such as using a collection of unakite that resemble an impressionistic garden, or opalite that looks like a white sand beach. The Dragonskin Pendant looks great with a Viking Knit chain. I like to string 3mm beads to go inside the Viking Knit before finishing it off, to give it a little more weight and stability for the heavier pendant piece.
- 18-gauge round half hard wire, 1 foot
- 24-gauge round half hard wire, 10 feet minimum
- 22-gauge round dead soft wire, 1 foot
- Variety of small to medium (no larger than 6mm) beads in various, rounded shapes
- Collect a handful of beads in various sizes and shapes, no thicker than about 6mm. When laid out on your mat, the beads should cover a larger space than you want to make the face of your pendant, so you have a good selection to choose from as you work. The form I chose to make here is about 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" with a 3/4" bail.
- Starting at about 3" into the 18-gauge wire, bend around a round object to make the desired shape of pendant. Bend the 3" end, and remaining longer end, up and parallel to each other for the bail. Cut about 18" of the 24-gauge wire. Leaving a 1" tail, secure the 18-gauge bail wires together at their bend junctions, wrapping the 24-gauge around the bail a few times. Do not cut this wire.
- Place a bail-making tool on the straight wires, about 3/4 to 1" above the wrapped junction. Bend both wires toward the back of the pendant form. Use chain nose pliers to make a small bend on the bail wires, moving them closer to the back of the pendant. Secure the bail with a few wraps, using the attached 24-gauge wire. Do not cut this wire.
- Wrap the longer 18-gauge bail tail up and around the bail 3-5 times. Trim it to 1" long. Use the remaining length to make a coil which can be used to decorate the bail, or tuck the length into or behind the pendant form. Repeat this procedure with the remaining bail tail.
- The attached 24-gauge wire will be used to start stringing beads across the front of the pendant form.
Begin by sliding on a random selection of beads. When you have enough beads to reach across the pendant form, wrap the wire once around the 18-gauge frame, and then lay the wire straight across the back of the pendant form, beginning the first row of beads. Wrap the wire once around the 18-gauge frame, and make the second row of beads across the front.
Repeat the process until the 24-gauge wire is almost used up. To end the wire, wrap it once or twice around the 18-gauge form, trim it to 3/4-1" long, then coil and tuck the very end (see second image).
Begin the next row of beads with a new piece of 24-gauge wire, cut 12-18" long. Continue the "bead weaving" process until the front of pendant frame has been filled.
If a hole or large gap has formed in the pattern, you can go over the area with a new 24-gauge wire fit between the rows. Add beads when going over a gap area to fill any areas that look as though they need it. As you create each row, you can choose beads that either fit well, or look interesting next to each other, making a sort of beaded mosaic.
- To add "veins", attach the 22-gauge wire to the 18-gauge form in the same manner as you began the 24-gauge wire, except in a different starting direction. So if a 24-gauge wire runs east to west, then the 22-gauge should run north to south, in directions crossing over and through the bead rows. You can guide the 22-gauge dead soft veining wires with your fingers and pliers to curve up through the rows of beads. Partway through, you can loop the wire down through the rows and back up, to secure the wire down, and then continue veining.
This can also be a good place for a junction to branch off, bringing a new vein wire up, from under the rows. Veins make a very interesting pattern on the pendant. I find up to three veins look good, but any more than 3 starts to look overdone. More is not better here!
- Now that the pendant face is filled with beads and wire to your satisfaction, look at the 18-gauge wire surrounding the face. If there are gaps in the wire wraps that make it look uneven, you can use any remaining wire to wrap the edges, evening the "coiled look" around the pendant.
(Click the image below to view a larger picture)
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