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Demystifying Heady Pendants (Complex pendants)

It's almost Fall, you can feel a touch of coolness in the air. Hope you got most of your Summer chores finished because it is so hard to work when the Fall days call you to play before Winter sets in.

I have spent much of the Summer exploring Wire Weaving and different styles of jewelry. Unique to Wire Weaving is the "Heady" or complex style of weave. This design often incorporates multiple stones and complex coils. Many gauges of wire and often multiple colors of wire are used. Some of these designs are absolutely gorgeous. Others are a jumble of too much wire with very little direction. A design flaw to be avoided.

I have gathered some tips for designing and making your own heady pendant. This is not a tutorial, but with some experience under your belt and willingness to jump in, you will get a long way towards completing a heady pendant.


Start by gathering together your focal piece (cabachon) and any other stones you wish to use in your design. Arrange the stones flat by themselves in an attractive manner. Once you are pleased with the stone arrangement, Place the stones as arranged on a piece of paper and draw a meandering line around them. The stones need to have some space between them. The lines will give you an idea of what the wire will look like and what direction to take. Does the arrangement and drawn lines please you? Is the total arrangement a good size? I can't draw worth beans so this is as far as I go with the drawing. If you have better skills go ahead and draw your full plan. Show coils, bare wire & weave patterns you will fill in with.

Decide if you wish to use one or multiple colors of wire. Keep it simple at first. I recommend making your first attempts in copper until you are happy with the outcome. Copper is a lot less expensive than silver or gold, just in case you don't like your first efforts.

Next build a frame to support the stones and wire work. Use at least 20 gauge either round or square wire for your frame. Half hard is recommended. You can make a flat frame and wire your stones to it or you can build a frame that also encases at least your main focal stone. Make your frame as attractive as you can since it will be the back of your design, Keep it neat.

As your skill grows you can solder your frame but at first you can wire it together.with weaving wire or try making a simple spiral that will support your stones and wire work. A Carefully hammer your completed frame with a rawhide or rubber mallet to work harden it. This is especially important if you used dead soft for the frame.

If you did not fix your stones into the frame, wrap your main stone attaching it to the frame. It can be attached with the wrap or stitched in with additional wires. Attach any other main stones that will sit deep in the piece. Don't worry about gaps in your component yet. Get your stones in place and then fill in the spaces.

Think of the remaining space as a meandering stream. Fill in with various gauges of wire, coils and figure-8 weaves. Heady pendants are about texture as well as beautiful gem stones. Coiled coils take up a lot of space and make great frames. Figure-8 weaves are attractive, and also fill in a lot of space. Don't hesitate to use other weave patterns in your design.

Check out YouTube for video instructions for wire coils. Discover a well kept secret, find an interesting world and learn some new slang terms from the coil instructions under Vapor Coil Builds!


20 g or 16g square or round, half hard for frames

28g & 30g for weaving (round wire)

21g for soft details

24g for fine details

1/2 round for channel setting.

I hope this gives you enough ideas to try your own Heady designs. I'm sure you will run into more questions along the way, but these tips should get you going in the right direction.

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