Beach glass, or sea glass, is one of the prettiest pieces of garbage you’ll ever see. I am lucky to live on Cape Breton Island in the Atlantic Ocean and I’m able to collect my own beach glass. If you aren’t so lucky, you can buy them on Ebay. This technique also works for any flat, irregular object.
This is my first tutorial & it’s super duper long, because I had trouble taking out any steps. If it’s any help, I shot a video, too! I thought it would help explain the photos by watching me create something start to finish. Also, it was hard to get the photos while also working with both hands. So you get both!
Much more detail in the many, many photos! Click More to see :)
- round wire, about 20 or 22 gauge,
- some beach glass,
- flush cutters,
- round nose pliers, and
- chain nose or bent chain nose pliers.
Cut two pieces of wire about 10-12 inches long.
Cross them into an X and place your thumbs direction in the “crotch” of the X.
Twist the two wires together. Hold the wire exactly as here – with your thumbs and fingers on either side of the crossed “x” … holding it wrong can result in a sloppy twist. Hold your thumbs as close to each other as possible and push them together during each twist to make it tight and neat.
Make sure you are twisting the wires equally, not wrapping one around the other. On the left: good. On the right: bad.
Place the twist at the back of the stone.
Choose the bottom and wrap one of the “legs” of the twist across the stone to meet its opposite. Cross one wire over the front of the stone/glass and twist it with its counterpart on the other side of the stone. You’ll make another twist the same as the first, but this time against the stone and not your other thumb.
Push the twist up against the front or side of the stone. Push tight!
Keep the wire as close to the stone as possible. You’ll have gaps but we’ll fix that later.
You should have created another X intersection, front and back. Twist those together as well.
Again, push the twist against the front or side of the stone. Continue crossing and twisting the wires on opposite sides of the stone until you reach the top.
Take a wire from the front of the stone and one from the opposite side on the back and twist them at the top of the beach glass to create the stem for a bail.
Pull any remaining wires around the stone and wrap them around the bail twist at the top. Now is when you can wrap around, not twist :)
Here’s where you can wrap around! Make it the tightest you can. Pulling the wire is easier than pushing it… and longer is easier to work than shorter.
Cut the wire as close as you can with your flush cutters.
Use your flat pliers to gently apply pressure in a rotational direction around the wire in order to tamp it down. A light pressure and a slight rotation around the wire in the direction of its wrap should tap it down without damaging the wire. This is a little tricky, so practice!
If you like you can wrap another wire around the top to create a little shell around the stone.
At this point, it’s probably pretty loose. Let’s tighten up those wires on the back where they won’t show! Use your chain nose or bent-chain-nose pliers to create an s-curve on the back wires. This will tighten the whole cage and keep the stone in place. Be careful to hold the other wires down so you don’t twist them out of shape!
Now we need to make a bail in order to hang this properly on a chain or ribbon… I have bailmaking pliers but you can do it with a smooth-barrelled pen or pencil! Point the two bail wires opposite one another… one facing the front and one the back. Then place the pencil perpindicular to the wires – the same way a chain would go. Push it into the V of the wires as far as you can.
Wrap the two wires around the outside barrel of the pencil; the wires should be going in opposite directions.
Without removing the pencil, wrap the ends of the wires around the stem of the bail. This will probably be the final layer of wire, so make them neat and close together.
Cut some or all of the ends close to the back of the bail stem.
Use your fingernails to separate the bail loops to create a pleasing Y shape.
They’re probably a little wobbly, so use the widest part of your flattest pliers to give them a little squeeze along the loop’s surface.
There’s more we can do here. Lots more in fact, but let’s be simple: let’s try some decorative spirals. Pull out your round-nose pliers! Cut the end wires to different sizes (to make different-sized spirals).
Use the very tip of your smallest round-nose pliers to make the initial P shape on the wire end. Keep twisting until the pliers get in the way.
…then use your flattest pliers to tighten up the “cinnamon roll” one quarter turn at a time.
Arrange the spiral up against the stone where it won’t catch on hair or sweaters.
And there’s your pendant!
This is a super-easy technique once you get the hang of it. Make the wires longer and you can do lots of decorative things around the stone:
Download a PDF of these instructions here:
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I’m glad that works for you Wendy! I personally prefer the serendipity, adventure, and authenticity the comes from finding glass on the shore, especially with the fun that comes from figuring out its history – which is part of what makes sea glass valuable. It’s important that you don’t present your tumbled glass as true sea glass if you’re going to be selling it, but of course I’m sure you knew that!
merci pour ce magnifique partage
cela inspire et fait rêver
c est très astucieux et me donne beaucoup d idées
pour tous ces petits trésors que l’on trouve en
se promenant merci encore
thanks for this great exchange
it’s a dream
it’s claver and give me a lot of ideas
for all these little jawels that we find when we are walking
thanks a lot
I think they are GORGEOUS , i made some wire wrapped stones i went on a walk looking for, i love the “hunt” a great deal. hoping to learn how to post pics soon. nice place , your talant shows.
fellow artist Tudy
the are beautiful i lov them all they are lovely
Wow! Some of those are just so beautiful. I’m sure I can do this. NOT! But I am going to try. Thanks.
Sure you can! Keep trying!
Gayle, I thank you very, VERY much for giving us your expertise! As I wrote in a message on your site, I value your Artistry and I having observed many other artistis in the wire wrapping tutorials, and it was a no brainer to choose you as my teacher. I do have a degree in art but am a beginner (having many interests) in wire wrapping and would value your Professional critique. May I send you a very few of what I’ve done in my designs using so far what you have taught me in the wire wrapping technique? I would be honored and would value your honest critique. Would you tell me please how many years you have been doing this? It is my goal ( after purchasing your recommended tool) to purchase all your Cd’s. I simply can hardly contain myself to purchase them in (God willing) the future. Warm Regards, Shari
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Thank you for sharing your talent. I am now anxious to walk the shores of the Northumberland Strait in search of some beach glass to try your technique on. We often find pieces that are either green, brown or white in colour. My preference is the very rare blue, which we always consider a real find.
Dear Gayle, I’ve been free form wire wrapping crystals & stones for a few years. I could never get the single looped bails to be perfectly round . After watching your video…mine are looking really awesome. And it was your simple technique that has not only inspired me to be more creative & daring…cuz now I know how to do a great looking bail…but I’m more confident cuz I know this type of bail is sturdy & lasts. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve watched too many videos on bail making & yours is the best, bar none.!. You make it straightforward & easy. Thank you Gayle…Raven.
Raven, I’m so pleased I was able to help!
Simply expressed! My grandson (age 11) wants to wrap some stones for is mother. Together with your pictures we can make this happen.
I don’t know why I hadn’t come across this tutorial before! It is well done and easy to follow!
i really enjoyed your video thanks
I just found your page and I must say you make it look easy. Your work is beautiful and I hope to give it a try. My husband and I have been to the east coast many times and we both love to walk the beaches looking for sea glass. I have jars of sea glass and have wanted to do something with them for a long time but have been unable to figure out just what to do….now I know. Thank you.
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Hi! I was given a ton of sea glass by a friend and been dying to learn how to wire wrap it! Thanks so much for sharing your YouTube video as well as these written instructions! I am so excited to get started!
My only question is for your YouTube video and these written instructions, what is the exact size of this piece of sea glass?
Thanks so much again and God bless!
I am thinking about buying your awesome book too!
I have NO IDEA what size the piece is. An inch or two, I guess? It doesn’t really matter, to be honest.
I really enjoyed watching this! I’ve been learning to wire-wrap jewellery having been taught by someone who learned it in the US. I have to tell you we are way behind you, here in the UK. I’m really interested in wire-wrapping some sea glass by following your design but I was wondering – are you using soft or half-hard wire? I presume, if you’re using soft wire, the bale still keeps its shape because the glass is quite light? If you have time to point me in the right direction before I go ordering the wrong wire, I’d be really grateful.
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bellissimi lavori, brava ciao.
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