Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Making A Wire Wrapped Flower - a tutorial by Paul Bishop

Many of you are familiar with Paul Bishop's work from his website Bishop Wire & Bead. You'll also recognize his name and his style from the artist profile that he shared with us here. We are really fortunate to have several of Paul's tutorials to enjoy this month...in fact, I'm declaring May to be Wire Wrapping Month. Let me tell you, we're extremely fortunate, because wire wrapping is not my strong point! So, thank you Paul in advance for all that we'll be learning this month!

Project #1 – Making a Wire Wrapped Flower

Like many of my wrapping projects, it's a very organic experience, so I didn’t think to take a lot of pictures. The ides of the tutorial came later. This one is meant to be adaptable, so measurements are not given.

If you're new to this, I suggest using a piece of copper wire to measure and twist, then cut the precious metal wire you need. My instructions are very verbose. Don't let the length fool you - it's really meant to give you a lot of detail so everything is covered.

 Six petaled flower - front

What You Need To Make A Six-Petal Flower:

- Copper wire for the prototype

- Six lengths square wire (one per petal). I used 22 gauge argentium sterling silver.

- 1/2 hard 1/2 round wrapping wire, usually two gauges above the square wire. I used 20 gauge.

- Chain nose pliers, jaws protected with masking tape to avoid marring the wire

- Round nose pliers

- Memory Wire cutters

- Low tack masking tape

- Marker, fine point Sharpie

- Wire rounder (burr cup) , fine file or emery board

- Patience (optional, but occasionally helpful)

Six petaled flower - back, showing heart

What You Do:

Making A Prototype Petal:

1. Cut a long piece of copper wire, 20g works well. It is substantial enough to hold shape easily.

2. Measure it, write down that length, then bend the wire in half.

3. At the bend, open the wire again so the two ends for a 60 degree angle.

4. Design your petal. The easiest method here is just to make a petal that is a basic leaf shape.

5. Where the wires cross at the end of the petal, bend the wires so they sit parallel to each other. This is where the wires will be wrapped to close the petal.

6. Mark off how far you will wrap the parallel wires. Then do whatever you want with the ends of the wires, and clip them off. If you just want to make a basic flower, clip off near the binding. If you're going to wrap the flower around an object like I did, leave some to ensure the wires will wrap to the back of the stone and hold it.

7. Straighten and measure the clippings, then subtract them from the length in step #2. This tells you the minimum amount of wire you need for each petal.

8. This is now your prototype for your petal.

Making The Real Thing:

1. Cut your chosen wires the length of your prototype (from #7 above) + whatever amount makes you feel comfortable. You don't want to waste too much precious metal wire when the petals are clipped, so either make it really short, or long enough that you are left with a wire you can use in another project. I do the latter.

2. Straighten the wires as necessary. A little curve is OK for flowers.

3. Find the center of the wire, and mark it. Grab the wire at that point with the tip of the round nose pliers 4. Bend the wire in half around the pliers, at 90 degree angles, making sure not to twist the wire as you bend them.

4. Take two square wires, and from as close to the bend as possible (it might be hard), start to wrap with the 1/2 round wire, flat side against the square wires, as close together as you can. Press the wire snug into place using the chain nose pliers. This process is called "binding".

5. Wrap up the two wires, checking your prototype to see when the wires shold diverge to form separate petals. End on the same side of the wire that you started wrapping on. Clip the 1/2 round wire wrap on both ends to get rid of excess bits, and press into place.

6. Add another wire and wrap that into place on one of the two wires in #5, making sure that the wrapping wire starts and ends on the same side as the first pair, and has the same number of wraps. Keep adding wires. At some point you'll have to start bending wires back together to the 60 degree mark to keep the wires from overlapping and making wrapping hard.

7. After you're wrapped the last wire in place, join the first and last wire attached to make the wires form a circle, adjusting the angles to be equal.

8. Bend each matching pair of wire ends (both wires on the inside of adjacent wraps) like your prototype (steps 4 and 5), and bind them where they are parallel to close the petal, starting and ending the wraps on the same side as in step 5. Clip the wrapping wire as before. (If you're going to wrap the flower around something like a rock slab or cabochon, lay the flower on the object with the bends in the center. Decide where the wires will cross for each petal and mark them. They may not all be the same length. Close each petal accordingly.)

9. Design the end of your petals like your prototype, then clip the square wires.

10. Use the wire rounder on the ends of the square wires to get rid of sharp edges.

Your flower is complete!

If it’s just a flower, put a jump ring on it and hang it on a chain, or make a second for a pair of earrings (have fun making them small!). If it’s going on an object like mine, bend the ends of the petals to hold it in place

Copyright 2010 Paul Bishop. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit without the permission of the author.  

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Eileen Bergen said...

Beautiful design. Thank you for the tutorial. I love to do wire wrapping and hope to give this a try.

Cyndi L said...

Isn't it lovely? Paul makes it sound so easy too...

Las Creaciones de Boricua said...

Thank you!!! I love the flower!!!

A Beaded Affair said...

Excellent! Glad I found this. I can see so many applications and modifications you can use this for. Thanks!

Paul Bishop said...

Thank you, everyone! The easiest modification to this design is to keep the wires straight and close with hard symmetrical bends wrapped to form snowflakes. You'll need a lot more wire, but they will be fairly sturdy.

Otherwise, your imagination rules!

Cyndi L said...

What a great idea, Paul!

daht said...

Thank you for these tutorials! Looks like they will be easy to follow for a newbie like me. :)

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