I found a great photo tutorial demonstrating how to wire wrap briolettes and top drilled beads on the Contrariwise Ramblings blog. Top drilled beads are beads whose hole is drilled near one end of the bead rather than through the center. This technique can be used to make earrings, pendants, and anything else that requires a dangling jewel.
Making your own headpins is a great way to save money on supplies, and it allows you to control another design element in your work. Athena Gowton has posted a wonderful free tutorial on jewelrylessons.com that teaches how to make five varieties of headpins without a torch. She has a number of other tutorials for sale as well, including several ring tutorials.
All you need to turn a chain into a necklace or bracelet is a clasp, and one of the best wire wrapped clasps is Connie Fox’s swan clasp (beginning on step 9). The swan clasp is as decorative as it is easy to make, and it has become a staple for wire wrapped jewelry makers.
I like to strengthen the wrapped loop on one end of the chain by curling it into two loops rather than one. This doubled loop is the loop by which I attach the clasp to the necklace/bracelet. On the other end, I make a larger double loop. I sometimes form this larger loop by wrapping the wire around a household object such as a crayon or marker rather than the round nose pliers. However, in the piece below I simply formed the loop on the largest part of the round nose pliers. This is the loop into which the wearer will insert the clasp to close the necklace/bracelet.
The clasp below is similar to the swan clasp, but go learn the swan clasp, it is better than this one!
Linking wrapped loop links is a common way of making necklaces and bracelets. This tutorial assumes that you already know how to make a wrapped loop.
To make several wrapped loop links, you will need:
- a few feet of dead soft wire (I like 20 gauge for this purpose)
- several beads whose holes can accommodate the wire you are using
- round nose pliers
- flat nose or chain nose pliers
- flush cutters
- a sharpie marker and rubbing alcohol
- a ruler for measuring
The wrapped loop is used very frequently in wire wrapped jewelry making. It can be used to link beads together to form beaded chains
or to attach dangles to other jewelry components, such as ear wires. In fact, attaching a dangle to an ear wire by means of a wrapped loop is probably the most common way of making earrings (though simple loops are often used instead).
Wrapped loops are more secure than simple loops. The coiled “wrapped” portion is decorative and provides spacing between beads. As with simple loops, it is important to use a wire gauge that is appropriate for the weight, size, and hole size of the beads you will be using.
To make wrapped loops, you will need:
- wire. 2o gauge dead soft wire would be a good wire to practice with.
- round nose pliers
- flat nose pliers
- flush cutters
- sharpie and rubbing alcohol (if you wish to mark your pliers in order to make your loops uniform in size.)
If you wish to make several loops of the same size, it is helpful to mark your pliers’ prongs at the position at which you will be wrapping your loops. Mark all the way around the outside edges of both prong with a Sharpie marker. These marks can be easily removed later with rubbing alcohol on a cloth, cotton ball, or cotton swab.
To begin, grip your wire about 1 1/2 inches from the end with your round nose pliers. If you have marked your pliers, grip the wire at the marked spot.
Rotate the pliers so that the long part of the wire wraps around the nose of your pliers (along the mark if you made one).
Continue to rotate until the two wire ends form a straight line. Partway through rotating you will find that your wrist would be uncomfortable were you to continue rotating. When this happens, simply loosen the grip of the pliers, rotate your wrist and the pliers back to the position they started in, then continue rotating until the complete loop is formed.
Next, turn the loop at its base so that it sits neatly on the end of the long wire like a lollipop on its stick. To do so, grip the loop at the point where the two wire ends cross with the tips of your round nose pliers, and use the pliers to bend the loop into position.
Adjust the short wire slightly so that it approximately forms a right angle with the long wire.
Grip the loop portion with your flat nose pliers, with the long tail emerging to the side and the short tail pointing down.
Grasping the short tail with your fingers, wrap the short tail tightly around the base of the long tail just where it meets the loop.
Wrap the short tail around the long tail two more times, with each coil touching the previous one. Strive for a neat, even coil. None of the long wire tail should show between the coils.
Cut the short tail flush to your work.
Use your pliers to neatly tuck the wire end in if necessary.
You have completed a wrapped loop.
Instructions for making and joining wrapped loop links are coming later this week.
Jewelrylessons.com is one of the best places online to find jewelry making tutorials and interact with other jewelry artists, especially wire wrapped jewelry artists.
One of my favorite tutorials from the site teaches how to make perfectly round loops, and how to turn those lovely perfect circles into more attractive spirals than those that can be formed from slightly teardrop-shaped simple loops.
The tutorial was written by jewelrylessons.com teacher Fee, and she has generously made it available as a free download.
Once you’ve mastered how to make simple loops, you will find it easy to make simple loop links and rosary style chains.
For this exercise you will need
- Several eye pins made from 1 1/2 or 2-inch lengths of 20 gauge dead soft wire. The starting lengths of the wires (before they were made into eye pins) must be known. The eyes of each pin should be of equal size. This is achieved by forming every pin’s eye at the same point of the round nose pliers’ nose.
- Several beads. Beads around 6mm in diameter work well with 20 gauge wire.
- Round nose pliers
- Flush cutter
- a ruler for measuring
- Flat nose pliers (optional)
Before beginning, you should know that while simple loops are extremely useful in jewelry making, there is a more secure type of loop called a wrapped loop. Some advantages of simple loops are that they are faster to make and use less wire. However, there are situations in which simple loops should not be used, such as where they will
- support a great deal of weight, such as when very heavy beads are used
- be frequently manipulated; for example a simple loop should not be used to join a clasp to a necklace or bracelet
- formed with inappropriate wire gauges. Generally, the thicker the wire the more stable it will be as a simple loop. The correct balance between wire gauge, bead size, and the overall look of a piece must be carefully considered.
To begin, measure the length of the eye pin’s tail. That is, measure the length of the eye pin not including the eye itself.
Subtract the measured length from the original length of the wire before it was made into an eye pin. This will tell you how much wire was used to make the simple loop.
The simple loop is the most fundamental “cold connection” in the wire wrapped jewelry maker’s arsenal. Very simply, it is made by turning the end of a piece of wire into a loop. These little loops have very important uses, though, from linking beads together to form rosary-style chains to attaching the dangly bit of an earring to its ear wire.
The following jewelry making tutorial will show you how to make simple loops and eye pins. An eye pin is a short piece of wire with a simple loop on one end.
To make several simple loop eye pins you will need:
- Several 2-inch lengths of 20 gauge dead soft wire. For practice (and for some projects!) use inexpensive copper or craft wire. It is important to measure the wire accurately if you will be using these eye pins for a project.
- A wire cutter, such as a flush cutter
- Round nose pliers
The following instructions are written for right-handers. Left handers must simply reverse the instructions.
To begin, hold your round nose pliers in your right hand with the hand oriented as though you were about to cut a piece of paper with a pair of scissors.
Turn your hand back and to the left so that the nose of your pliers are pointing to the left, and the back of your hand is facing up.
Pick up a piece of wire with your left hand.
Bring the wire to the nose of the pliers from behind. As the wire enters the nose of the pliers, it will be moving toward you. Grasp the end of the wire with the nose of the pliers. The wire should be positioned such that its end just barely protrudes from the nose of the pliers, and the tail of the wire emerges from behind the pliers perpendicular to their nose.
If you will be using these eye pins for a project, it is important to make them uniform. In order to make all of the loops the same size, you should either make careful note of which spot on the nose of the pliers you are grasping the wire with (such as exactly half way between the base and the tip) or you should mark the spot with a Sharpie marker. A Sharpie mark can be easily removed later with rubbing alcohol.
Begin to curl the wire into a simple loop by rotating your wrist, hand, and the pliers away from you (so that your fingers move downward and your thumb moves upward). Rotate about 1/2 turn, until it would be uncomfortable to continue turning your wrist.