Friday, 24 April 2015

1:12 scale Wire basket tutorial

Ray Storey Glass bottle, Mini Mundus washstand kit and Daffodils kit by Bonnie Lavish

Before starting, you will need straight wire. You can use a dremel tool and vice to straighten wire.  You will need to run some wire wool down the unstraightened wire first, put one end of the wire into the drill and the other in the vice, then pull the wire taught, wait for the twang to end then briefly switch the dremel tool on. Run your finger and thumb down the wire to make sure it isn't kinked, and wear goggles whilst the tool is switched on...or like me, close your eyes and hope for the best!  There are other ways to straighten wire, but this is the way that works for me.

You will need:-

  • Wire (suitable for soldering)
  • Solder and flux
  • Soldering iron (preferably one with flame)
  • Wire snips
  • Wooden block or similar (something that you don't mind getting burnt..)
  • Wire wool
  • Graph paper
  • Masking tape
  • Stainless steel tray

To work out the length of the wire pieces needed, place them against your block as shown, the parts touching the wooden block will be the base of the basket, and the overhang will be the sides.

To work out the number of wires needed for each side, place the block onto a piece of graph paper. I've chosen to use each 1mm square as the spacing guide. The blue lines indicate the other wires needed, that aren't shown. Make sure to leave a small space at either side, as indicated by the red arrows.

You will need to do this again, with the other side of your block (if you're using a block with equal sides, then just double the number you got originally)

Once you have all of your wires cut to length, carefully wash them in soapy water and leave to dry, and only handle with tweezers afterwards.

Let's try and explain this... You have to stick down strips of masking tape on to the back of a stainless steel tray, with the STICKY SIDE UP!.  The horizontal strips have to be parallel with a gap slightly less than the height of one of the wires...and the same for the vertical strips, with the other length of wire... The following pictures will probably help to make sense of this..moving on..

By the way, you have to do all of the above so that you can slip this little bit of graph paper under ;)

Use tweezers to place the wires as shown, using the graph paper as a guide to keep everything straight and evenly spaced.  

Then lay the other wires on top as shown...

Use a paintbrush to apply flux under the wires, being careful not to dislodge or bend them.

You will need two strips of masking tape to hold down the top wires, at either end.  This helps to make sure the top (horizontal) wires are all in contact with the bottom (vertical) wires. Be careful not to tack them down too tightly though, it's mostly to make sure they don't move about when applying the solder.

Use a craft knife to slice off little bits of solder. You can try using them at that size, or you can be mad like me, and cut each slice in two, as the red line indicates.

Welcome to the most awful part! You now need to carefully place each bit of solder so that it "might" be touching the upper and lower wire at the same time... HAVE FUN! You can actually lift the solder pieces by touching them with your tweezers or even a tapestry needle, they're that light, thankfully the flux on the wires causes them to stick on quite easily, no balancing act, you'll be glad to hear.

Once they are all in place you can use the flame of your soldering iron to melt all of those little bits of solder...and hope everything goes to plan.

And then you will be left with something like this.. I burnt mine slightly!.. but the show must go on., and a few bits of solder did NOT join the wires either..luckily it does the job regardless....And I'm not doing all of the above again for aesthetic purposes! :D

To make the rim of the basket, get a length of the straightened wire, and bend it around the block. You will need to twist the ends together, which is a bit tricky.   And I only had one hand at the time to demonstrate this, the other using the camera, so this is a mirror image of one half of a picture. You use your index fingers to push the wires together so they cross over close to the block, this makes it easier to twist them. Hope this weird picture helps!  P.s. You don't want to make the "wrap" too tight, the vertical wires of the basket mesh need to fit between the "wrap" and the block.

Make two small twists by hand..

Then use pliers to twist them a bit tighter and closer to the block. 

Use pliers as shown, and then clamp tightly.

..Now both sides of the wire meet in a straight line, then you can snip the excess of the twist as shown. Don't snip the twist off!

You can now remove the wrap from the block, and clamp the twist in pliers, as shown.

Now you have a lovely straight join. Lovely!

Place the mesh over the block.  It was at this point, I realised a wire was missing from the vertical section of the mesh..whoops!

Using your fingers to firmly hold the base of the basket mesh to the block, use a ruler or something similar to carefully bend the wires over each side of the block. It helps to  roll the ruler over the wires, so place the ruler slightly back as the red arrow indicates, then roll it towards you. Don't worry about them not being straight as you bend them, you can tidy them up later.

Just wanted to stick this extra photo in, in case the above one didn't make much sense... I'm not Martha Stewart by the way! :D

Now with the wire mesh formed over the block, you can carefully shimmy the wrap down, until you have it where you want it.

Due to that missing wire from earlier, I've decided to fan the wires out slightly on this side, but they should have been vertical. I quite like it though! Anyway...Use your paintbrush to put flux on the wires as shown.

In order to get a good join, all of the vertical wires, need to be touching the horizontal wire. You can use a bit of folded tin foil or tea light foil, until that is achieved. Then place a sliver of solder as shown, and blast with the soldering flame. Work one side at a time.

Er..having technical problems.. Don't forget to flux and solder the twist! It is important that all vertical wires have soldered properly to the horizontal wire, unless you don't mind having a "vintage" basket.

When you remove the basket from the block, snip off the excess wire, including the twist, and carefully file the edges.  Make sure to clean the basket with soap and a toothbrush or wirewool, to remove the flux residue. I would imagine you could paint these, Tamiya spray paint would probably work very well.

Click here for a great tutorial by a Japanese miniaturist, for making an umbrella frame, which should be very useful for people with more advanced miniature wirework ideas.


  1. Beautiful work! Thank you for the tutorial

  2. what iis beautiful, thank you for this tutorial

  3. Okay, I'm exhausted already! This basket is truly GORGEOUS, but I think that if I tried it, it would look like my dog's breakfast.
    So I take my hat off to you Sarah, because to me, your wire basket is a tiny WORK OF ART!!! You have made it clean, as well as to scale and with every attention to detail and presentation. The final result is BRILLIANT ! :D


    1. Thanks Elizabeth, have to say I spent many, many months figuring out how to do this, and also surfing the Japanese quarters of the net, trying to figure out how they make them, after much trial and error (NOT SHOWN :D ) I got there. You must get a soldering iron!! It's not as difficult as it looks, and so much fun. Start big and simple, clothes horse maybe! :)

  4. Sarah, excellent work and a very clear and helpfull tutorial. I've been away for quite some time and won't be very active on Blogspot in future.....but I'll try and visit your updates as much as I can.

    1. Liduina, it's really great to hear from you! I was actually looking at your blog the other day. Hoping all is well with you, I fully understand your decision, but hope you will be back one day. Not sure if you will get this, but hoping you do :)

    2. Hi Sarah, I just visited your blog and I am happy to see you read my comment and even responded to it. I have had some bad luck lately and my health is not well, that's why I have been so quiet for a long time now. I am happy you are still blogging for your blog is spendid and I know lots of people admire your work and enjoy your tutorials, just like I do.

  5. Wow, Sarah, you have written an excellent and very clear tutorial, thank you so much for all your effort :D! Your basket is absolutely wonderful, chapeau :D!
    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    1. Thanks Ilona, they're fun to write and organise, glad you like it, hope you give it a try!

  6. I loved your tutorial, it was so detailed and the basket you made was lovely. I have been thinking of getting a soldering iron for sometime now and you have inspired me to actually buy one. Great work, well done.


    1. Ah ha! great to hear, Pepper of Mitchy Moo inspired me, so I'm glad to have passed the baton on :D Thanks :)

  7. Your wire basket is fantastic, you're so talented.

  8. C'est un excellent tutoriel, les photos sont très "parlantes" ! Très beau résultat !

  9. Un tutorial excelente con un resultado fantástico!!! Muchas gracias!!!

  10. Another fantastic tutorial and I'm so chuffed that you felt inspired to get a soldering iron. Look at how far you've come =0D Excellent work as always and thank you for taking the time to make a tutorial for everyone =0)

  11. Hi Sarah!
    You have done a wonderful basket. I do not know how to work with a soldering iron! For me it is incomprehensible! I really want to take your lesson! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Beautiful basket. Thanks for the tutorial.

  13. Un tutorial fantástico. Gracias por compartirlo

  14. Making this basket is fantastic work. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I'll someday dare to try to solder metal items.
    Hugs, Drora

  15. Great tutorial. I'd love to have a go at working with metal and soldering one day - when I pluck up the courage and have the tools. So many possibilities.

  16. Great tutorial.Thank you for your sharing.

  17. Really fantasic work and a great tut!


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