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So you've got a fancy new set of jewellery making tools, findings, stringing materials and beads – but where on earth do you begin? If you're feeling a little stuck, we want to help! Here's our list of basic jewellery making techniques that every budding jewellery maker should know how to do. As these techniques are featured throughout many types of jewellery projects, this little guide is sure to help you get on your feet.
1. Opening Jump Rings:
1. Hold the jump ring on one side of the break with chain nose pliers, then hold the other side with another pair of chain nose pliers. If you don't have another pair of pliers, simply hold the other side between your index finger and thumb.
2. Gently twist one side of the jump ring away from you, only as wide as required. It's important that you don't pull the ring apart to stretch out the circle – this will distort the shape of the finding! You're now ready to attach to another element as required.
2. Closing Jump Rings:
1. Again, hold the jump ring on one side with your chain nose pliers, and then hold the other side with another pair of pliers or between your finger and thumb – this time the jump ring will be open.
2. Twist one side of the jump ring back towards you – the same side you twisted open. If the jump ring's still slightly open or you're struggling to completely align both sides, it may be worth gently wiggling them to completely close the gap.
3. Alternatively, you can use a pair of loop closing pliers to quickly and simply push the loop closed after twisting it back towards you.
1. Take your headpin or eyepin and slide your bead(s) onto it.
2. Take your side cutters and cut the wire roughly 1cm (1/2") above the bead(s).
3. Using your flat-nosed pliers, gently bend the wire right up against the bead, until it's at a right angle.
4. Keep hold of the wire at the right angle using the flat-nosed pliers, then take your round-nosed pliers and clasp the very end of the wire.
5. Gently bend the wire around the jaws of your round-nosed pliers with the simple rotation of your wrist. You may need to readjust your hold on the pliers if you run out of rotation room so that you can create a complete circle – but make sure you hold the wire in exactly the same place. And that's it – you've created a loop!
1. Take your wire cutters and have a good look at each side – you'll see one flat side and one indented side.
2. If you've created a wire wrapped loop, for example, open your cutters and put the jaws around the wire with the flat side facing the loop – as close to it as you can.
3. Bring the handles tightly together, ultimately cutting the wire in the exact place you want it – and leaving no unsightly stray wire. If you do happen to have a tiny piece of wire sticking out, use some flat-nosed pliers to squeeze the end of the piece into the rest of the wire.
1. Slide your bead(s) onto your headpin or eyepin, then take your flat-nosed pliers and clasp the wire just above the bead(s).
2. Whilst holding the pliers tightly, bend the wire over it with your fingers until you reach a 90 degree angle.
3. Take your round-nosed pliers and clasp the wire on its bend, then bend the remaining wire up, over and around the pliers' top jaw with your fingers, creating half the loop.
4. Now that the top jaw of your round-nosed pliers is inside the half loop, remove your hold on the wire and rotate the pliers so that the bottom jaw is inside the wire instead, then clutch it again.
5. Bend the wire again with your fingers – but this time under and around the bottom jaw to complete the loop.
6. Take your flat-nosed pliers and hold the top of your newly-made loop from the side. Wrap the remaining wire twice (or three times) around the length of wire under your loop/above your bead, ensuring it's tight. The thickness of this wrap should perfectly fill that space.
7. If you have any excess wire protruding from your wrapped wire loop, simply cut it with side cutters as close as you can to the wrapped wire – and there you have it, a lovely, neat finish!
1. Attaching a Clasp Using Calottes:
1. Take your thread and string on a calotte. Tie a knot in your material, ensuring it's small enough for the calotte to fit over it, then dab on a tiny bit of glue/nail varnish to secure it.
2. Using your flat-nosed pliers or chain nose pliers, push down on the calotte to close it, then slide your choice of clasp onto the little hook on top of the calotte.
3. Roll the hook into a loop using your round-nosed pliers, securing the clasp to the calotte.
4. Add your beads onto the thread and then, once you're happy with how it looks, repeat the calotte-attaching process above to secure the other side of the piece with another calotte.
5. Take the jump ring and insert it into the hook on the end of the second calotte, then use your round-nosed pliers to roll the hook into a loop. You've now got a fully functional clasp to easily open, put on and close your jewellery piece!
2. Attaching a Clasp Using Crimp Beads & Flat-Nosed Pliers
1. Take your crimp bead and thread it onto your wire, then thread on your choice of clasp.
2. Once both components are threaded, take your wire and thread it back through the crimp bead to form a loop.
3. Take your flat-nosed pliers and squeeze the jaws around the crimp bead, flattening it entirely. It's important to double-check that the crimp bead is tight before moving on to the next step – simply do this by gently pulling on the clasp.
4. Open the clasp and insert the jump ring, then thread your first bead onto your wire.
5. Cut off any excess wire using your side cutters, then thread on the rest of your beads. Once you're happy with your design, slide on another crimp bead and then thread the end of your wire through the jump ring already attached to the clasp. Thread it back through the crimp bead to create another loop.
6. Pull your wire tight to ensure the entire ensemble is taut, then take your flat-nosed pliers and squeeze the crimp bead to flatten it. Double-check that the crimp bead is on securely, and then cut off the excess wire with side cutters. Et voila – you've attached your clasp!
7. Optional – If you don't like how the crimp beads look on your finished piece, you do have the option to attach crimp covers to make it look a little prettier. To do this, simply open the crimp cover slightly by inserting closed chain nose pliers and gently opening them slightly. Slide the crimp cover over the crimp bead, then close it using your flat-nosed pliers or chain nose pliers by gently squeezing the jaws around it. Repeat this process to attach the second crimp cover.
3. Attaching a Clasp Using Crimp Beads & Crimping Pliers:
1. Take your crimp bead and thread it onto your wire, then thread on your choice of clasp. Once both components are threaded, take your wire and thread it back through the crimp bead to form a loop.
2. Take your closed crimping pliers and have a good look at the shape of the jaws – you'll see one circular-shaped gap and one crescent-shaped gap. Open up the pliers and place the crimp bead to sit within the crescent-shaped gap, then tightly squeeze the jaws together.
3. Once crimped, move the crimp bead over to the circular-shaped gap, rotate it 90 degrees so that it's sitting on its side, and then squeeze the jaws together again to even out the shape of the crimp bead.
4. Check that the crimp bead is tight by gently pulling on the clasp. Once you're happy it's totally secure, open the clasp and insert the jump ring. Thread your first bead onto your wire.
6. Pull your wire tight to ensure the entire ensemble is taut, then take your crimping pliers and follow the same processes described in steps 2 and 3. Double-check that the crimp bead is on securely, and then cut off the excess wire or cord with side cutters. And that's it – you're all done!
1. The first step is arguably the most important – you must ensure your stringing material fits inside your end cap. If the diameter is too thick, simply rub the end of the cord to make it a little slimmer.
2. The end of your cord should also be flat for a better fit – simply snip the end slightly with your side cutters if it's too bulky or uneven, creating a cleanly cut surface for the end cap to sit on.
3. Add a couple of drops of strong glue into the end cap, then insert your stringing material, holding it firmly in place for a few seconds.
4. Repeat the whole process on the other side of your stringing material with the second end cap. Then, set the whole piece aside to dry for a few hours. Once completely dry, your end caps will be firmly attached to your cord – and you can move on to adding your clasp!
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