Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tutorial: Pendant & Earring Basics

In preparation for this summer's farmer's markets, I have been making beaded and wire-wrapped pendants and earrings.  I thought a tutorial for making simple beaded pendants/earrings wouldn't be amiss!  So here it is, along with some of the tips & tricks I've picked up on the way.  If you have other suggestions, please comment with them!

You'll find these tools helpful to have:

Shown are needle nose pliers, round nose pliers, and flat nose pliers.  The first two are very helpful, the last is preference.  You can use the needle nose pliers instead of the flatnose.  Also shown are flush wire cutters and crimping pliers.  Any wire cutters will work, but flush cutters will leave the wire flush, or flat, while other cutters will leave a sharp point that needs to be filed down.  Crimping pliers aren't necessary, the needle nose pliers will work, but I find them helpful to have around.

And some beading materials necessary before you begin:

A bead assortment, small, large, round, square, crystal, whatever you want!  Also shown are headpins and eyepins.  Headpins come in fancy shapes, too, while eyepins can be decorated with beads or more dangles.  You can also make your own eye pins with wire, or decorative headpins that terminate in spirals/wire designs or a hammered end.  

TIP:  If you don't have an anvil, use the side of a hammer head instead.

For those of you who prefer drawings over photos, or vice versa, I've included both!  My diagram is for the simplest pendant or earring, while the photos show a more secure method of making pendants/earrings.  Clicking on the images will open larger views in another tab/window.

Step 1: Gather your beads and headpins.  Explore with your materials or look through magazines for inspiration.  Once you have a winning combination, you are ready to finish your pendant/earrings!   

TIP: Make sure you have enough wire left over to make a loop with the design you've chosen.  If you don't, you'll have to remove some beads or get longer headpins!  They come in sizes up to 3" long, if you want longer ones, you'll need to make them yourself.  If you aren't going to wrap the remaining wire around the headpin at the base of the loop (shown below) you don't need as much wire remaining.  You'll have to practice to find out how much wire you need left over, as different gauges of wire or sizes of loops will change that length.  I prefer at least an inch because it's easier to manipulate.

Step 2: Grab the wire with your flatnose pliers and bend the wire at a 45 degree angle as near to the beads as possible.  This will ensure they won't move up and down along the wire once you are finished.  The angle ensures an even and centered loop once you are finished.  I tend to bend the wire further than a 45 degree angle, and then move it back once I've started the loop.

Step 3: Take your round nose pliers and wrap the wire around the top side of them.  You can use your fingers or the needle nose pliers, whatever is easiest for you.

Step 4: Remove the round nose pliers from the partial loop and insert the bottom side of them into the loop.  Pull the wire around to complete your loop, again using either your fingers or the needle nose pliers. 

NOTE: The remaining wire after the loop shown above is NOT enough to wrap around the base.  You want at least 1/2 inch left over at this point.  If you don't want to start over, you can trim the excess and close the loop like a jump ring, as shown in the drawing above.

Step 5: Take your flat nose pliers and hold the loop with them.  Take your needle nose pliers and grab the remaining wire, holding it near the tip.  Wrap the wire around the loop base.

Step 6: Take your crimping pliers to finish off the wrap.  The grooves in them hold the wire nicely to round off the end so it doesn't stick out or poke the wearer.  Don't push too hard, however, or the wire will crumple under/over itself.

Step 7:  Finish your piece!  Either attach an earwire to your loop, or string your pendant on your chosen cord/ribbon/chain.  I've chosen to create a set of pendants strung on ribbon with additional beads to space them out.

Other options:
- use decorative wire or half round wire
- use bead caps to showcase a focal bead
- bend your wire in half, creating a loop in the middle, string your beads, and twist the remaining wire ends in a decorative fashion to hold the beads in place
- visit for more tutorials, the basics are often free
- request a tutorial from me!  I may make another showing how to create your own earwires and headpins if there is interest!

REMEMBER:  I will hold the next Double or Nothing Giveaway when my followers reach 42!  Spread the word and have fun creating!

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