Tuesday, 25 October 2011

How To Make Beaded Jewelry - Basic Techniques





Jewellery making is easy and fun to do and once to learn a few simple techniques, you can create a whole range of your own jewellery. It can be cost effective too, you can make your own jewelry for a lot less than it would cost in the shops.

Basic Jewellery Making Techniques

How to crimp with beads

For crimping you will need either crimping pliers or some basic flat or snipe nosed pliers would do. If you are using some flat / snipe nosed pliers you simply just place the crimp bead in position on the wire where you want it and then press the crimp bead firmly with the pliers. This will hold the crimp bead in the place that you want, it can not be moved again once you have done this, so please make sure that you position it correctly first. If you are using crimping pliers, the advantage of these are that once the crimp bead has been gripped onto the wire there is an extra hole at the top on the pliers to make the crimp bead neatly round again. Otherwise it would remain flat on the wire, just put the crimp bead in the top hole of the pliers and press again to finish off the bead.

What is jewelry crimping used for?

Crimping is used when you want to hold either beads (illusion necklace) for example onto wire or jewellery thread or to add a clasp to the end.

How to add a clasp to wire

A basic method of attaching a clasp to wire is by threading a crimp bead on to the end of a piece of wire. Then put the wire through the hole of the clasp and then fold the end of the wire back onto itself and back through the crimp bead.

Next position the crimp bead as close to the clasp as possible but leaving enough space so it can move slightly. And with a pair of flat or snipe/chain nosed pliers press the crimp bead firmly onto the wire so that the crimp bead stays still and cannot be moved again.

You may have a little excess wire at the end which easily be cut off with wire cutters or be hidden by threading the beads that you put on the wire over the excess piece of wire.

I usually find tiger tail wire works best and it needs to be thin enough to put double the thickness of the wire through one crimp bead, I mostly use wire approx 0.45/0.5mm gauge wire in thickness. Even tiny 1.5 or 2mm crimp beads can fit on it easily.








What are crimping pliers?

Crimping pliers are pliers that are specifically used to crimping and nothing else. Jewellery crimping pliers usually have 2 holes on the end. The hole that is closest to the pliers handle is the one that is used to crimp and pressed to hold the crimp bead in place. The hole that is closest to the tip on the pliers is used after the crimp bead has been pressed in place and is used to make the crimp bead a round shape again. If you put the crimp bead in the hole and turn the crimping pliers around the bead to mould it back to a nice round shape again.







What are calotte crimps?

Calotte crimps are metal findings that cup and cover a crimp bead to finish the end of a necklace of bracelet.

What are calotte crimps used for?

Calotte crimps placed at the end of a piece of wire or jewelry thread to make a nice neat end to a piece of jewellery. They can also be good to use when two or three ends of wire need to be secured together on a bracelet or necklace.


How to use calotte crimps

If you thread the end/s of wire through the hole of the calotte crimp next to the round cup part of the calotte. Then at the end of the wire/s a crimp bead should be secured into place by pressing with the pliers. Once the wire or wires are secured in place with the crimp beads, you should fold the two sides that look like little cups together to cup and cover the ends of the wire. At the top of the calotte crimp there it either a hole or a small hook, this part is used to connect to a (jump/split) ring, which can be connected to a clasp.



What are folding crimps?

Folding crimps are jewelry metal findings that have flat sides and have two 90 degree vertical flat sides and have a hole at the end. It should also have a sharp (barb) piece to hold the suede securely.

What are folding crimps for?

Folding crimps are used to secure and hold an end of a flat piece of cord such as suede in order to attach it to a jump ring or clasp.

How to attach a folding crimp

First of all you need to ensure that the end of the cord it the correct width to fit into the folding crimp snugly. If the cord is slightly too wide you can cut a little off the edge to fit into the folding crimp.

Next you may use glue adhesive to hold the cord into place on the folding crimp.

Next once the end of the cord is placed in the folding crimp just take a pair of flat edged pliers (flat/snipe/chain nosed pliers will do) and press one side of the folding crimp on top of the cord. Then do the same on the other side by pressing the sides of the folding crimp on top of each other. This should secure the folding crimp in place and the sharp barb holds the cord and stop it from pulling out.

What are coil spring cord / crimp ends?

Coil spring crimp ends are metal jewelry findings that have a coild spring like end with a raised loop on the end.

What are coil spring cord / crimp ends used for?

Coil spring crimp ends are used to hold and attach clasp or ring to the end of a thicker piece of leather/ suede/ rubber.

How to attach a coil spring cord / crimp end

Firstly you can add glue / adhesive to the end of the cord to add extra security to the cord.

Then you thread the end of the cord into the coil spring end and push it to the end of the coil without it poking through. Next with a pair of flat nosed pliers (flat/snipe/chain/long nosed pliers) place over the last couple of spring coils (furthest from the end of the cord) and press firmly with the pliers to secure into place and the cord can’t be pulled from the spring end.




What are jump rings?

Jump rings are metal rings used in jewellery making, they are usually round in shape although occasionally you can get other shapes such as triangle or square. They are made by wrapping a piece of wire around thin cylinder shape to make a coil and then each coil is cut to make a round jump ring.

What are jump rings used for?

Jump rings are used to attach ends together, such as the end of a necklace or bracelet strand. They can be used to attach a clasp to a strand. They can also be used to attach head or eye pins together. Jump rings can be used to link together to make a chain and there are a variety of ways of joining jump rings together to make an interesting link chain design for a bracelet or necklace.





How to open and use jump rings

When you first start to use jump rings, it is an easy mistake to make to pull the ends out to make a gap. But this will loosen the strength of the wire and it will be hard to get it back to its original shape. To open them to make a gap you should, with pliers, gently slide the two ends away from each other, one up the other down. Make sure that you make the gap big enough to attach it what you need but not stretching the shape of the ring too much to try and keeps its original round shape. Then close the gap again by sliding the ends back together again in the opposite direction.

The Basics of Head Pins

Basically your average head pin looks like a very long T-shape with a small top. There are variations of the design, some with balls or fancy metal designs at the end. But let’s start with the basic T-shape. They can come in a variety of lengths starting from as small as 20mm up to 50mm or maybe more. If you are just starting to learn the basics of jewelry design I would advice you to get a longer length pin as you may not be sure of how many beads you are going to put on your design and if there is any wire left over it can easily be cut off with wire cutters.
The end of the pin, where the top of the T is, is where the beads rest and the end stop the beads falling off. You may find that the end may be too small for the size of the hole. Some beads can have larger holes in them that others. In this case it would be advisable to add a small metal spacer bead first at the end. I usually do this anyway as it adds a nice finish to the overall jewelry item. Then you add the rest of beads following your design. Don’t add too many beads as you need space at the end to make your loop. I would leave approximately 8-12mm gap at the end of the pin to make the loop.

Making the loop

1. To make the loop, hold the pin with beads in one hand and take your round nosed pliers in the other hand and bend the pin at a 90 degree angle.
2. Then use your round nosed pliers to bend the end of the pin back over onto its self to make a loop shape at the end.
Don’t be afraid of bending the wire the pins can be quite flexible, but at the same time don’t over do it as too much bending and twisting of the wire can weaken the structure of the pin and could eventually snap. It is best to choose which way you want to bend it and stick to that angle.
The round nosed pliers work really well at creating a nice loop shape as the wire curves to the shape of the pliers.
3. At the end after you have made the loop you may have some excess wire which can be cut off with wire cutters to make a neat and tidy hook at the end. This is the similar to the hook at the end of an eye pin. Make sure the hook is closed up so that what ever it is linked to doesn’t fall off and your jewelry could fall apart.
4. Alternatively you may wish to twist the end of the wire around itself. You will need to leave quite a bit extra wire at the end to create this loop approx 12-15mm. After you have made the loop use the excess wire to wrap around the wire at the top of the beads to seal the loop for a more secure fitting. This isn’t always necessary, as the normal loop can be strong enough to hold the jewelry together. I would only really recommend doing this if you are joining your pin with something a lot thinner like tiger tail wire for example and you wouldn’t want the thin wire slipping through the small gap of your pin loop.

Where Head Pins Can Be Used

Head pins can be used on earrings in many different ways, not only to make a simple drop. You can add the head pin to an eye pin and then to the earring wire to create a different look to the earring. You could put a jump ring at the end of the eye pin and add lots of small head pins to jump ring to make a cluster effect at the bottom of the pin. Or you could add a number of head pins to a chandelier finding to create a gorgeous and glamorous look to your earrings. Or another popular design at the moment is the cluster earrings. Where you link a small piece of chain to the earring wire and the add the short head pins with different beads it, to make beautiful clusters of beads. This design can also be used when making charm key rings or cell / mobile phone charms.

Head pins can also be used on charm bracelets or charm necklaces by adding beads on to head pins and then onto the chain can make beautiful designs. You can add them to the rings of the chain or alternatively they can be linked onto jump rings and then onto the chain depending on your design.

They can also be used to make beautiful pendants. If you have a large focal bead or make a deigns with smaller beads, the head pin can be linked to a jump ring, and then added to your necklace.

They can also be used on finger ring findings that have loops on top. You just add the short head pins with beads to make a clustered bead effect on the ring.


How and Where to Use Eye Pins

Eye pins are very similar to head pins. They are easy to use, and can be used instead of head pins, if you don’t have head pins available or you just want to create a different look.

I find that when people don’t know a lot about jewelry making they tend it start off with just using head pins and they don’t quite understand what the eye pins are for or how they can be used. But once you get the hang of eye pins they are really very versatile and can be a lot more useful than head pins.

If you look at it this way, head pins are like a full stop. You can’t add anything to the end of the T-shape, you can only add to the loop at the other end. Where as with eye pins they can have two loops and can make a continuous flow of links to add to other eye pins or to jump rings or to chain or to clasps and so on and so on….

The Basics of Eye Pins

The basic eye pin is just a piece of wire with a loop at one end. You can easily make eye pins yourself using the correct type of jewelry making wire. There are many wires used in jewelry making these will be explained in the about jewelry findings section of this website.

Eye pins can come in a variety of lengths starting from as small as 20mm up to 50mm or maybe more. If you are just starting to learn the basics of jewelry design I would advice you to get a longer length pin as you may not be sure of how many beads you are going to put on your design and if there is any wire left over it can easily be cut off with wire cutters.

The other end of the wire is left straight to add your choice of beads to it. And the same as with the head pins leave a gap of approx 8-12mm at the end to make the loop.

Making the loop

1. To make the loop, hold the pin with beads in one hand and take your round nosed pliers in the other hand and bend the pin at a 90 degree angle.
2. Then use your round nosed pliers to bend the end of the pin back over onto its self to make a loop shape at the end.
Don’t be afraid of bending the wire the pins can be quite flexible, but at the same time don’t over do it as too much bending and twisting of the wire can weaken the structure of the pin and could eventually snap. It is best to choose which way you want to bend it and stick to that angle.
The round nosed pliers work really well at creating a nice loop shape as the wire curves to the shape of the pliers.
3. At the end after you have made the loop you may have some excess wire which can be cut off with wire cutters to make a neat and tidy hook at the end. This is the similar to the hook at the other end of the eye pin. Make sure the hook is closed up so that what ever it is linked to doesn’t fall off and your jewelry could fall apart.
4. Alternatively you may wish to twist the end of the wire around itself. You will need to leave quite a bit extra wire at the end to create this loop approx 12-15mm. After you have made the loop use the excess wire to wrap around the wire at the top of the beads to seal the loop for a more secure fitting. This isn’t always necessary, as the normal loop can be strong enough to hold the jewelry together. I would only really recommend doing this if you are joining your pin with something a lot thinner like tiger tail wire for example and you wouldn’t want the thin wire slipping through the small gap of your pin loop.
A tip for making loops on eye pins is, have a look at which angle the loop at the first end is and try to make the loop at the other end the same way. For example make the loops so that if they where put on a flat surface both loops would lay flat. Or another way of looking at it is if you hold the loops up you could see straight through each hole, like a pair of glasses. It is an important thing to remember as if the loop is twisted at a different angle your jewelry may end up looking twisted and not looking the way that you want.

Where Eye Pins Can Be Used

As I mentioned earlier eye pins can be very versatile. The can be used instead of head pins but instead of having the flat T-shape at the end you would have the loop. It may sound unusual but I have seen a lot of jewelry designed this way and the effect can be truly stunning.

Another fantastic thing about eye pins is that when you have added your bead or beads to you eye pin, depending on how long the pin is you can have a lot of the wire to play around with. And this is where you can have fun and create shapes, spirals, twists, with your round and flat nosed pliers. The original loop can be linked to your jewelry, jump rings or earring wires but the other end can be used however you want. It can be twisted to make a spiral, make a variety of loops with your round nosed pliers. Or bend at a 90 degree angle to hold your beads and make any shape you like. You can even bend it back up to wrap the wire around the bead that you have strung.

Eye pins can be used to make continuous links to make a bracelet or necklace. Or add the odd eye pin link onto a chain and connect back to the chain the add beads to an ordinary chain. You may wish to connect a jump ring between the eye pin and the chain first.

You can make a continuous link of eye pins of 2, 3 or 4 eye pins linked together for example to make beautiful dangling earrings. Or just add it between the head pin and earring wires.

Again they can be used instead of head pins to add beads to charm bracelets and necklaces. Or can be used to make beautiful pendants.

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