How to Weave a Decorative Copper Wire Basket

Weave copper wire into a decorative basket embellished with polymer clay beads.

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Materials and Tools:

12-gauge copper wire
16-gauge copper wire
24-gauge copper wire
round nose pliers
needle nose pliers
nylon jaw straightening pliers
flush cutters
liver of sulfur
container of hot water
fine steel wool
polishing cloth
polymer clay, variety of colors
pasta machine
needle tool
dust mask
metallic powders
head pins
toaster oven or conventional oven


1. Wrap 12-gauge copper wire loosely around round nose pliers to form three loops for the basket rim's embellishment. Wrap the wire into the rough size and shape for the basket rim. Add about three inches to the length to form a second embellishment described in step 2. Make a cut with flush cutters.

2. Form a small loop around the tip of the round nose pliers for the second embellishment on the other end of the rim, then turn the wire around and create a second larger loop facing in the opposite direction. Turn the wire again and make a third loop, again working in the opposite direction from the loop formed before it.

3. Wrap the two ends of the rim wire around each other once. Tip: This is similar to the first wrap you make when tying shoelaces.

4. Add 16-gauge copper wire spokes to provide structure to the basket. Make sure the wire is flush cut at the end and wrap the end of the 16-gauge wire around the rim with your hands and fingers. Work from a coil of wire so you don't have to estimate the amount of wire needed.

5. Bend 16-gauge wire so that it roughly forms the size and shape of spokes needed. Flush cut it approximately two inches longer (tail) than the size of the spoke.

6. Wrap the two-inch tail of 16-gauge wire around the rim opposite the first wrap. Flush cut any remaining wire if the tail is longer than needed. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with a second piece of wire running perpendicular to the first. This gives you two wire spokes that cross each other at the bottom of the wire basket.

7. Cut 24-gauge copper wire into about three-foot lengths to form the basket's mesh. Wrap the end of the wire around the rim of the basket. Wrap the coils tightly and neatly against each other.

8. Pull the wire to the bottom of the basket and make a few loops around the bottom so that it is firmly attached.

9. Pull more wire back to the rim on the opposite side of the first piece of wire you attached, and wrap more loops to secure it. Repeat until you have wire mesh covering the whole basket. When wrapping wire over the rim or spokes, make three or four loops, but when wrapping wire around another piece of wire between the spokes, loop it once so it has a more delicate appearance. Manipulate the wire with your fingers to shape the mesh basket.

10. If you run out of wire, but aren't finished with the basket, follow these steps:

  • Loop the wire's end around the rim or spoke (such as when creating the mesh) and flush cut the end. Make the cut on the inside of the basket so it isn't visible.
  • Cut a new piece of wire. Start by looping around the rim or spokes (refer to step 8) and continue working until you have a fine mesh. End by looping the end of the last wire around the rim or a spoke and flush cutting the end.

11. Counteract any wobbles in your basket by pressing it gently, but firmly onto a flat surface. Rock it back and forth, shaping as you go, until it sits firmly and has a pleasing shape. Manipulate the embellishments at the ends of the rim until you achieve the desired appearance.

12. Oxidize the basket outdoors to avoid fumes.

  • Place a pea-size grain of liver of sulfur in a small container to oxidize.
  • Add hot water and immerse the basket in the solution. If the water is very hot, it will only take a few moments to blacken.

13. Wearing gloves, buff with fine steel wool.

14. Polish to a fine shine with a soft cloth.

15. Reshape the basket with your fingers if it becomes misshapen during polishing.

Make the Disk Beads

1. Blend polymer clay to create the desired bead color. Run the mixture through a pasta machine.

2. Pull off pea-size pieces of clay, roll into ball and pinch into disk shapes.

3. Poke holes in the center of the beads with a needle tool.

4. Wear a dust mask before brushing metallic powders onto beads.

5. Bake 15 minutes in a 265-degree oven and let cool.

Assemble the Bead Dangles

1. Thread polymer clay beads onto head pins.

2. Make a loop with round nose pliers just above the beads.

3. Thread the loop through the basket rim.

4. Wrap the tail of wire between the loop and beads. Clip any leftover wire.

Ronna Sarvas Weltman, Bellevue, Wash.

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