By Meg Carter
Humans have been creating with objects found on the beach for centuries. According to National Geographic, “Shells may have been used in the world’s oldest jewelry.” Sea glass, similar to shells, has a way of bringing out the artistic and creative side of almost anyone. There’s something about sea glass that just begs to be honored in a piece of jewelry.
Once you get into sea glass collecting, it doesn’t take long to ask the question, “What am I going to do with all of this?” Create is usually the answer. If you want to start making jewelry, but don’t know how to begin, this article will be a good reference.
Wire wrapping sea glass is one of the easiest places to start. The cost of tools and materials is minimal and if you make a mistake it won’t harm the glass.
Things you will need:
- Sea glass - triangular pieces are the easiest shape to learn with.
- Wire - to start, you may want to use craft wire, any size between 24 and 18 gauge will work. The higher the gauge, the thinner the wire. 21 gauge is used in these images.
- Wire cutters
- Smooth, flat-nose pliers
- Smooth, round-nose pliers
- To start, find a piece in your collection that is similar in size and shape to the piece pictured. If you are left-handed, mirror the shape.
- Cut a 9-inch piece of wire from your spool and place the glass on top of it with one inch sticking out of the top.
- Take the wire at the bottom and wrap it around and across the glass at about 6 o’clock over to about 3 o’clock. (6 o’clock to 9 o’clock if you are left-handed)
- Turn the glass over and then continue bringing the wire around ,straight across the back of the sea glass.
- Turn the piece back to the frontside and bring the wire straight across the front.
- You should be able to hold the glass and wire firmly now without the glass slipping out. Using your round nose pliers, at the top of the glass, lightly squeeze the bottom of the top inch of wire.
- Using your fingers grab the end of the inch of wire and bend it around the pliers.
- If the end of the wire goes past your pass of wire on the back of the glass, tuck it under.
- Continue wrapping with the long end of the wire one more time around the back and over the top while moving towards the top of the piece of glass.
- Once you approach the top, continue with the wire behind and around the bail you have made at the top of the glass.
- Wrap the wire tightly around the bail two or three times.
- End the wire when you are motioning towards the front of the glass and cut it with your wire cutters.
- Use your flat nose pliers to squeeze the wire tightly so it is not sticking out and you’re done!
Things to keep in mind
Once your wire is bent, it is hard to get it completely straight again, so you may want to start with a fresh piece of wire if you need to start over. This is why starting with craft wire and not sterling silver is a good idea.
Make sure the ends of your wire are not in a way that they can get caught on clothing or poke or scratch the wearer. Wrap in a way that the glass won’t fall out. Go across the glass instead of in line with an edge.
Keep things tight. If it is loose, it will rattle or possibly fall out. Until you get better at this part, you can tighten the wire in the back by twisting with piers.
Be mindful of the size of your bail (the loop that the chain goes through). You need to make sure the chain will fit through the hole.
As you continue, experiment with twisting and looping the wire. Incorporate charms or beads. Use different colored wire to add design. Weave in and out of wire passes. This is art - there are no rules!
Learn more about Meg Carter ›
This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine March/April 2018 issue.