Best Pliers for Wire Wrappers!

November 13, 2009

I love working with wire…the challenge to take something so ordinary as a simple piece of wire and turn it into something spectacular is so much fun!

I prefer using my pliers to a WigJig type tool, and had long ago graduated from using round-nosed pliers to make my loops to using stepped pliers.  My favorite pliers had three steps, and were terrific for making consistent loops, bends and curves!

About 6 months ago, I wanted to “step up” my stepped pliers, and ordered a pair that had SIX different sized jaws.  I instantly fell in love…I could go from teeny tiny loops to large loops just by flipping around a single pliers!

These guys are perfect for making ear wires, just use one of the two smaller sized jaws for the loop to hang your components from, and then the larger sized jaws for the shepherd’s hook that goes through your piercing.

I have to say that I love these pliers so much that I decided to become a distributor for a tool company (Euro Tool) that sells them.  I recommend these pliers to students in my Continuing Education classes, fellow jewelry makers, and jewelry forum friends.

I’ll admit it. I hate Niobium. Or “How to make some cool and unique wine glass charms.”

July 1, 2009

I made up some adorable Wine Glass Charms using silver-plated earring hoops (from Rings ‘N Things) and small patches of a European 4-in-1 weave last night.  I love the way they look, and they are very colorful!  All but the yellow patches are made using Anodized Aluminum rings from Blue Buddha Boutique.  (I can’t say enough great things about BB…Rebeca’s rings are fantastic, and she ships PRONTO.)

The yellow rings were some leftover Anodized Niobium rings I’d bought last summer, and I remembered that they were a bit tough to work with…but, HOLEY COW!  I about tore up my hands just doing this little patch.

Lesson learned.  No more niobium, no matter how cool the colors look!

Make your own Chained Up Charms using my simple instructions below!

Chained Up Charms

Materials:

1″ silver plated or basemetal earring hoops

23 18g 5/32″ jump rings (per charm – use different colors for each charm)

Make a patch of European 4:1 chainmaille that is 5 rings across (3 closed, 2 open) and 5 rows down.  Attach to the earring finding by running the earring wire through all 5 rings on the right side of the weave.  Use a pliers to bend up the end of the earring finding so it will securely attach to the hooked end.

Knot Your Average Posts earring instructions

April 20, 2009

I posted these cute earrings in a couple of forums and was asked to create a tutorial for them. They are fairly quick to make, and have loads of possibilities! Add a simple loop at the bottom and drop another dangle below the main stone.The first version I made using 20g gold-filled round wire and citrine stones. The wire hardened up after tumbling enough that I felt it was stable. In this version, I’ve used 22g half hard sterling wire, which is what I usually use for earring findings.

While you will want to be careful not to “chew” up your wire with the pliers, don’t worry about bending the tail up a little.

Knot Your Average Post Earrings

Level – Experienced Beginner – should have some experience with wire work

Materials
6″ 22g HH round sterling silver wire
6mm beads (2)

Tools
Round nosed or stepped pliers
Flush cutter
Chain nose pliers
Nylon jaw pliers
Cup Burr

1. Cut wire in half so you have two lengths 3″ each. This will be longer than you will need for your posts, but I find it’s much easier to work with longer lengths for this project. Instructions below are for one earring; therefore, you’ll just be using one length of wire and one bead.

2. Make a tiny hook on one end of the wire using round nosed or step pliers. Close hook using chain nose pliers to make a head pin.

3. Thread bead on wire, allowing it to fall to the bottom.

4. Make a small loop at the top of the bead, using the round nosed pliers. I use my fingers as much as possible to pull the wire at this point, which decreases the stress on the wire and keeps it as straight as possible. The loop needs to be just high enough above the bead to allow one wrap around the “neck” of the loop.

5. Wrap the tail of the loop ONLY 3/4 of the way around the neck.

6. Using the tip of your round nose pliers or the smallest section of the stepped pliers, make a small U shape in the tail, very close to the neck of the loop. This will make it easier to complete the final pull through the loop.

7. Bend the tail so that you can guide it back through the loop.

8. Carefully pull the tail through the loop, making a knot at the base. This will get a little fiddly, you can use your chain nose pliers to pull it through or to hold the loop at the top while you pull the tail through.

9. When the tail is nearly through, I use my chain nose pliers to help push the U (created in Step 6) all the way through the loop.

10. Hold the top of the loop with your chain nosed pliers. At the same time, straighten the wire tail using a nylon jawed pliers until you have most of the bends out, and it’s at a 90 degree angle from the loop.

11. Mark the tail at 3/4″ from the back of the loop using a Sharpie.

12. Trim the tail at the Sharpie mark.

13. Use a Cup Burr to file the end smooth.

14. Repeat for second earring.

At this point, I would also suggest tumbling the earring at least a short time to ensure the ends are perfectly smooth, to harden the post and to give it a nice shine. Add a plastic backer to hold the earring in place.

March Ornament Thursday!

March 26, 2009

It’s that time again, and the OT group is coming up with some beautiful Celedon (pale green) projects for you to make!

My contribution this month is a delightful pair of embellished ear wires – simple to make, and super cute to wear! I’ve used spring colors to symbolize all the flowers that are starting to poke up through the dirt, and soon will be blooming and bringing color to the drab landscape!

Easy Embellished Ear Wires
I found that a Czech glass bead, in the shape of a flower or bead cap, makes a perfect embellishment for a simple pair of French-style ear wires. Here’s how you can achieve the same look with your own wire and beads!Materials:

22g 1/2 hard sterling silver wire
Czech glass flower bead (2)
Decorative bead (I used a cat’s eye bead in a heart shape, pink color) (2)
4mm Swarovski crystal (2)
Sterling silver head pins (2)

1. Working from the spool of wire, thread a Czech glass flower bead on the wire, cupped end last.
2. Make a small loop on the end of the wire…you’ll use this for your dangle.
3. Let the flower bead fall to the top of the loop, and made a bend in the wire at the top of the bead to hold it in place.
4. Using a Sharpie marker or other round object (pen, knitting needle, mandrel), form the shape for the ear wire just above the bend.
5. Clip the end of the wire and file.
6. Create a dangle, threading the crystal and decorative bead on the head pin.
7. Create a wrapped loop at the top of the dangle.
8. Attach the dangle to the loop at the base of the ear wire.
9. Repeat for second earring!

In retrospect, I would bump up step #8 before #3 – it was a little hard to open the loop because of how it fit “into” the flower bead.

Queen for the day….make your own Tiara!

January 26, 2009

For some reason, today I decided I wanted to make a tiara.

I’ve never really been a tiara kind of girl, and I really don’t know what put it in my head. But there it was, and the little voice nagging just wouldn’t go away.

I googled “tiara making instructions” and came back with lots of ideas, but nothing that clicked for me. Also, most of the instructions required a tiara frame, and I didn’t have one. That nagging voice kept picking at my brain, saying “You have 14g copper wire, just use that!”

So I did.

I took about 18″ of 14g copper wire, and shaped it into a headband. Hammered the heck out of it to make it keep it’s shape. Now I had a tiara frame of sorts.

Now I needed to do some decorating…again using copper wire (this was a prototype!), I made three hearts and two swirls out of 18g wire for the centerpiece. After doing a little more hammering on each one separately, I started binding them together using 26g copper wire. At each join, I added a 6mm clear Czech bicone, which gave it some sparkle.

Next up, bind the centerpiece to the frame. I used 20g wire this time – it’s more sturdy than the 26g, but is still fairly easy to wrap. I started in the middle of the decorative part, being careful to keep it in the center of the frame. I wrapped one side first, added a final bead, and wrapped the tail to the last swirl. Time to wrap the other side to the frame, add a bead, and complete the final wrap.

Voila! I now have a tiara fit for a Queen. I’m wearing my tiara around the house tonite to see if it gets me any respect (not so far, LOL) and have decided I am now a tiara-wearing kind of girl. I will definitely do another version, perhaps using a different style centerpiece…this was a fun project!

Everything from Week 1

January 4, 2009

One of my goals for 2009 (oops…I need to post those, don’t I?!) is to be more consistent in taking photos of my work and posting it on my Etsy site. On one of the jewelry message boards I frequent, there is a member who posted “Everything from Week ##” throughout 2008, and I thought it was a great way to journal a year’s worth of work.

So look for “Everything from Week ##” from me, beginning this week.

Up first is a wire woven pendant using some yummy iolite stones (tiny, tiny things…I fell in love with them when I saw them!) and freshwater pearls. The style is taken from an Eni Oken tutorial that I picked up a couple of years ago. I tend to stress about what to do with pendants…I’m not fond of most 100% beaded necklaces with a pendant – I think they take away from the focal – but sometimes I really like to have something that’s finished, not just a pendant for someone to hang on a chain.

I like the way this finished up, with the addition of some iolite and pearl eyepins to a light chain I purchased in bulk from Fire Mountain Gems.

A work-in-progress this week is the chain for a copper pendant that I also made this week. The pendant was created from 14g, 16g, and 26g copper wire – I call it “A Song in My Heart”. I was inspired by Eni’s Jewelry Lessons site challenge for Valentine’s Day…still going to work on the design a bit before submitting.

The chain is a tiny, tiny version of the Jens Pind Linkage weave. I had a hard time getting this weave down, and when I finally did, it was one of those epiphany moments of “Cheese and crackers…what did I think was so darn hard about THAT?!” It’s classified as micro-maille (3/32″ 20g rings), and I can only do a couple of inches at a time before my eyes start to cross.

So, at the end of the first week of 2009, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Join me in the challenge of posting your weekly jewelry making!!

Michaels August Challenge

August 25, 2008

The gang that hangs out at the Michael’s message boards holds monthly challenges, and the challenge this month was to make something primarily of metal.

Well, I love metal…so I couldn’t resist! I actually made two pieces using the same wire wrapping technique.

Challenge rules include that your piece must be made of at least 75% materials available from a Michael’s store…for these projects, I used 26g Wild Wire in fuchsia and teal, as well as 18g silver wire for the frame.

I’ve made two pendants for the August Michaels Challenge. The first is a version of my Fairy Ladder pendant, using the team Wild Wire. For this piece, I also used 18g Wild Wire in silver color for my frame, but I was not happy with the way the frame flopped around when I wrapped it. Michaels, please carry heavier gauges of wire for folks who don’t want to use sterling silver!!! Size on this little pendant is about 1″ long, about 1/4″ across.

Next up, I decided to use some (shhhh) sterling silver wire for the frame, again in 18g. Shape held up much better with this one. Teal and fuchsia wire are used to wrap…I can see a couple of small errors, but overall, I’m really pleased with the way this turned out!! Size on this one is also about 1″ long, 3/8″ across the widest point. Lots of wrapping in that tiny space!

These may end up being gifts for a couple of special little girls I know…not sure yet. I think they would like them, however. :-)

Thanks for peeking…if you’d like to join in the fun on the Michaels board, please join us!!!

Ornament Thursday’s August Teaser!

August 15, 2008

I’m thrilled to be the Featured Artist for Ornament Thursday this month….here’s just a little sneak peek of what you’ll be seeing more of in two weeks! A tiny teaser – it involves wire, orphan beads and is definitely a 30-minute project!!!
This month’s theme is Academia…I’m excited to see what all the talented gals come up with! Full projects will be posted on Thursday, (of course!) August 28.

 

How time flies! It’s Ornament Thursday!

June 27, 2008

Wow, the month of June totally got away from me. Between Grand Cities, vacation, and an exciting family announcement (congrats to my wonderful daughter Bree and her fabulous finace, Nick!!!), I’ve just lost track of time.
Not to be defeated however, here are a couple of fun and easy projects that fit right into the Ornament Thursday theme: Independence…just in time for the US July 4 holiday!
You're the Star Earrings

You’re the Star Earrings

Sparkling Red White and Blue Bracelet

Sparkling Red White and Blue Bracelet

And of course, the other OT Gals are right on top of things, with a great variety of Independent projects that are fun and fabulous! Check them all out:
Alexa Westerfield a.k.a. Swelldesigner Craft some red, white, and blue drink charms from vintage wartime posters. They’ll make a big bang at your 4th of July cookout!
Art Bead Scene Field of Poppies bracelet project from Heather.
Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva Celebrate the Independent Spirit
Michelle’s take on Indpendence Over at http design, Michelle has scuplted a piece which gives a different perspective on independence.
Strands of Beads Melissa sees stars this month while considering the meaning of independence
Look for RED HOT themed projects in July!!!!

 

One Pendant, Three Options

April 13, 2008

My good friend Judy presented me with a challenge a few weeks ago. “Make me a necklace using this pendant.”

She didn’t want a plain chain, and really didn’t have any ideas on what she was looking for…just said she knew I’d come up with something.

When I started thinking about what to do, I first looked for colors. The crystals in the pendant are green, pink and clear AB Swarovski’s…but that green is more of a Granny Smith apple green than anything else. Peridot stones were close, but not a perfect match, and I couldn’t find any colors in seed beads that were even all that close.

I decided to offer Judy options…anything that she didn’t like could be sold, after all! The first thing I tried were some pink 11.0 seed beads interspersed with Peridot chips, and then twisted with another strand of the pink seed beads.

Second try was a tubular herringbone using the same pink seed beads. I love the feel of this snakey chain, and while bead weaving isn’t one of my favorite things to do, it worked up pretty quickly once I got started.

I got my final inspiration after I posted the first two options on a jewelry making forum…I thought about using a chunky chain and tossing in some peridot and light pink Swarovski crystals. Since I didn’t have any chunky pre-made chain, I made my own! The ovals are soldered jump rings, which I then “spread” using my Wubbers chain nosed pliers. I really like the looks of this chain a lot, and I think it sets off the pendant well – a funky and hip look overall.

I like this chain a lot, and I think I’ll make another – it was time consuming, but I think the end result was worth it.

So tomorrow I hope to present Judy with all three options and let her decide which is her favorite. How about you? What other options could I have come up with?

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