Wall-Mounted Hanging Votives

Metalsmith Sandy Cozad of Kearney, Mo., twists wire to create hanging votives.

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Materials and Tools:

14- to 18-gauge wire
needle nose pliers
small gemstone, bead or glass gems
measuring tape
leather gloves
small vise (optional)

Steps:

1. To make the hanging rods: Measure and cut wire to 6 inches longer in length than you would like the rod to be; this will allow for the swirls and gems on the ends for overhang.

2. After cutting all the wire, place in hand and line up together. Band a piece of wire at one end, approximately 3 inches from the end, and wrap tightly. This will keep all wire together and will allow you to then put in vise and twist slightly.

NOTE: If you do not have a vise, you can also twist by using gripping wire at both ends with pliers and twist your hands in opposite directions.

3. After twisting, wrap other bands of wire in other areas of the rod. You can either measure evenly or place randomly. This will also give more strength to the rod.

4. After banding is complete: Take your pliers and separate the ends of the wire. These should be extended out from the banding. Randomly take each end with your pliers and make a swirl, or add a bead or gem to the end for embellishing purposes.

5. For the hanging votive: Using your needle nose pliers, measure and cut a piece of wire approximately 8 to 10 inches long. This will vary as you go, depending on how large or small you would like to make this, so give it a couple of attempts to see what size you prefer most.

6. After cutting the wire to preferred size, take pliers and begin turning in a circular motion, making a swirl. After making the swirl the size you'd like, take the other end and do the same. You can give it a variation and one end will be larger than the other end. Making each end different sizes gives it more proportion and makes it feel less symmetrical. Do this step one more time; adding variation on the second one helps give it more visual interest as the votive is hanging.

7. Now for the wire wrapped gems: Measure approximately 4 to 6 inches of wire. You will need seven pieces. You do not have to be precise; the idea is to give it a random feeling. Take one end of the wire and make a loop. Make sure the loop is closed, and ensure that there is enough room for another loop to go in there and not be tight. With your pliers in hand, put the looped area in your pliers for stability, and begin to wrap the wire (loosely) around the tip of your pliers.

8. When you have wrapped the wire once, remove from the pliers and insert a gem in the first (loop if you will) and wrap the wire around the center of the gem and them around the bottom. Remember, the wire needs to hold the gem in place so you will need to "encase" the gem so it doesn't fall out. When you've finished wrapping the gem, take the other end of the wire and make a loop at the other end so it can be connected with the other components.

9. After making the wrapped gems, you should be feeling like you can conquer the world. Now it is time for the bottom piece. Cut a piece of wire about 6 inches at one end with your pliers. Make a loop, just like you did at each end for the wrapped gems. Then take the other end of the wire and make a small swirl. Set aside.

10. For the votive section: Measure wire 16 to 18 inches. Using gloves, smooth out any kinks the wire may have. This will also warm the wire and create a natural curve in the wire. Pay attention to the natural curve in the wire, because this is the way that you will turn the wire for the spiral shape.

11. Make a loop at the end; put the loop in the pliers to help stabilize wire, and begin making twists that go with the curve of the wire. Begin with smaller twists; with each twist that follows, it should be getting larger and larger. It should begin to look like a coil. Do this for about four twists of the wire.

12. When you have done that, stop and go to the other end of the wire and make a loop at the end and proceed twisting until you run into the rest of the piece. This should create a wire component that looks is smaller and gets wider, and then tapers small at the bottom. Open the top of the wire component and drop in the votive and viola!!

13. Beginning with the larger double swirl, add a gem-wrapped piece to it. Attach two more gem-wrapped pieces. You should have four hanging components at this time. Now take the next double swirl component and add it to the third gem-wrapped piece. Add three more gem-wrapped pieces. Attach the votive piece to the last gem-wrapped piece. Now you should have in this order hanging end on end:

double swirl
gem wrapped piece
gem wrapped piece
gem wrapped piece
double swirl
gem wrapped piece
gem wrapped piece
gem wrapped piece
votive section

14. Add the last gem-wrapped piece to the votive section and connect the single swirl component to the last gem-wrapped piece.

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