How to Wire-Wrap Beach Glass the Easy Way

Beach Glass Pendant

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 :)

Supplies:

  • 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.

Much straighter!

DONE!

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.

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…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:

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Beach Glass Pendant

Beach Glass Pendant

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73 Comments

  1. Vicki

    Thank you for sharing. I have been looking for a way to show my son how to wrap some stone we tumbled. He is making a necklace for his nana. Thanks again. These are great!

  2. Andrea

    Thankyou so much for your excellent tutorial. I live in Australia & have been collecting sea glass & sea pebbles for several years. I have recently returned from a lovely 2 month trip to England with some wonderful beach finds including pottery shards, clay pipe parts as well as some wonderful sea glass. I have decided to start turning all of these treasures into jewellery etc, but have been a little intimidated by the amazing work i have seen on the internet, and not even sure how to start. Your tutorial has given me the confidence to give it a go. So thanks again……off i go to the craft store for supplies xxxx

  3. Terry

    Gayle, Thank you for putting it in a learning format. If you don’t teach you should consider it. You make it seam so easy. I can’t wait to buy all kinds and colors of wire. I know my brain won’t shut off now till I get busy.

  4. Debbie K

    Thank you Gayle for going through this step by step. I have tried wire wrapping on my own but it does not fit properly and looks untidy. You make it look fun and easy to do. I have bought my wire, collected my pieces and cannot wait to start! Thank you.

  5. Jennifer

    This was a great refresher course for me. My cousin taught me this about 25 years ago and I got busy with marriage and children in between. Now I can pick up all that glass I have been finding on the Maine coast!

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  7. Becky

    I thought this was one craft that I was just totally incapable of doing. I’ve tried this half a dozen times and they always looked bad. I followed your tutorial and made such a pretty little pendant. Thank you! ^_^

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  9. Theresa Nye

    Very informative, my ? is I live in Phoenix and most the beach glass, gemstones I can not find at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby is there a place on the internet that you purchase yours?

  10. Gayle

    Hi Theresa, I don’t buy beach glass – I am lucky enough to live on the ocean so I pick mine off the actual beach! Sometimes you can find that kind of thing at the dollar store though. And at Michael’s, look in the decoration section :)

  11. June

    Hi Gayle, I’m a fellow Caper in New Brunswick, and I really miss seeing all the sea glass on the beaches. Hardly any here that I can find. You need to do online lessons, your jewellery is magnificent. I would be your first online student unless you have a heart for displaced Capers :)

  12. June

    Hi again..the wire wrapping is gorgeous!! But how do you keep the stone/cabachons so tightly kept in the wrapping. Is there a pressure point kind of place on these stones? I love your work, tried wrapped rings but cannot keep original size, the wire seems to loosen. Is this common or just me? And are you in Baddeck or Sydney?

  13. June

    OMG I’m from the Bay!! Do I ever miss home, do you have a shop in the Bay? Commercial St is really dying, I grew up in Mckays Corner. Hopefully, we’ll meet someday as I drool over your jewellery. BTW there is hardly ANY beach glass here in Saint john!!

  14. June

    Found your pattern for the million dollar rings. Need to get a credit card to get your instructions then I can practice, and have to get a ring mandrel too! Thanks for the chats!

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  16. Jan Roth

    I made a pendant last summer and it turned out great! I live on Lake Michigan near Chicago and find lots of beach glass and pottery shards. Thank you for your great tutorial.

  17. Cathy

    I meet with a group of friends and we tackle a new craft each month. I thought this tutorial looks perfect for my group which is a mixture of talents & experiences. I bought a bag of sea glass the last time I was in Laguna Beach. They are all different colors and shapes and sizes. I washed them but as soon as they dried they developed a frosted coating…should I try to polish with vaseline (as another site mentioned)??

  18. Becky Krause

    If you don’t live where you can find beach glass and you have a small stone tumbler, you can make your “beach glass” from broken colored glass. My favorite is broken bits of depression glass. Just tumble as you would do stones but don’t put anything in the load except the glass. (If you try to do double duty and slip in stones at the same time they will break your glass.)

  19. Nik

    Great tutorial, Gayle. Can’t wait to try my hand at this today.

    June, there is plenty of sea glass in and around Saint John. I have thousands of pieces from this summer alone. Maybe you haven’t been scoping out the right beaches. :)

  20. June

    Gayle, where do you get your supplies from?

    Nik…I must be going to the wrong beaches for sure. I’m not from here so have no idea and the Mclarens Beach had nothing for me. Where else should I go?

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  23. Wendy

    I make my own sea glass. When I find a bottle made of a color I like I break it and put it in a rock tumbler. I check it every couple days until it has the desired smoothness for the project I’m working on.

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