How many times have
you been working at your bench and gotten so inspired, you outwork your
stash? I can't recall how many times I've hit my jewelry-making groove
and then come to a screeching halt because I ran out of a vital
jewelry-making component, like unique clasps or ear wires. So
Handmade Wire Jewelry Findings
A recent issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry
helped me realize a solution: If I have wire, I have findings! It's fun
and easy to make my own S clasps, earring wires, eye pins, jump rings,
and so on--and chances are they're going to be more unique, more
attractive, and more economical than manufactured ones. Bonus: By using
handmade clasps and findings, my jewelry projects will be truly and
completely handmade, all the way down to their utilitarian ends.
|Martha Aleo's Clasp-tastic! S-clasp
Design One-of-a-Kind Wire S Clasps
simple S curve of wire and a jump ring becomes a one-of-a-kind S clasp
with even a small amount of work. Hammer the wire just enough to
flatten (with a ball-peen hammer), strengthen (with a rawhide or nylon
hammer), and texture (with any metal hammer) the wire, and voila! That
tiny bit of work just turned a short piece of wire into a handmade
one-of-a-kind jewelry clasp.
can go a step further and cover the S-shaped wire with coils of
finer-gauge dead-soft wire, and punch it up even more by adding the
extra embellishment of spacers and other metal beads. You could also try
stacking on some other kinds of beads or textured jump rings. Finish
the ends with one last flourish of curled wire and/or a ball of silver
(just touch it with a torch flame until the silver end balls up).
||Stephanie Riger's Easy Ear Wires
Create Easy and Unique Ear Wires
easy enough to make your own ear wires, but I prefer to make them
because handmade ear wires provide an opportunity to go beyond basic
hooks for something to hang on--they can enhance and be part of the
overall earring design. Coils and swirls on the front ends take your
earring designs one step further with minimal effort.
our own ear wires also allows us to experiment with their shape, making
them extra long, angular, or giving them a slightly curved back side
for a little extra style. Remember to create balance if you alter the
standard fish-hook design or your earrings might not hang properly, and a
Sharpie marker is just the right size for curving the top of your ear
wires. Whether you make basic or fancy ear wires, take advantage of the
wire tip of the year!
Got Wire? Got Pins!
you need eye pins or head pins--and we always need them, don't we?--if
you have wire (preferably half hard), you're covered. Eye pins are
simple and self-explanatory enough: Using round-nose pliers to make a
simple closed loop on the end of a wire turns the wire into an eye pin,
with a custom-sized eye to match whatever your projects require.
pins take only a bit more effort. A ball-tipped head pin can be created
by just balling up the end with a torch; flatten that ball by hammering
it while the pin is in a vise and you have a standard head pin. You
can also enamel the balled end for a colorful head pin. Or, make a
small, tightly wound coil on the end of a piece of wire for a
spiral-tipped head pin. Creating
and using head pins with special features is an easy way to add an
extra little something to your jewelry designs--and they're just a few
steps away from becoming ear wires.
Make Jump Rings by the Dozen
tip is pretty well known but bears repeating: Coiling wire around just
about any long round object (pencils or pens, knitting needles,
chopsticks, metal or wooden rods . . . ) and then sawing along one side
to cut them open will create custom wire jump rings in any size you
want and in your metal and gauge of choice, faster than you can say
"jump ring." Get a more detailed lesson in making jump rings here.
Choose the Right Wire Gauge
successful wire jewelry components depends on starting with the right
gauge of wire. Clasps like S clasps (as well as hook-and-loop clasps)
should be made using 14- to 18-gauge wire. Finer-gauge wires are
generally too soft to function as secure clasps, but they can be
hardened by hammering them with a nylon or rawhide hammer or in a
best wire for earring wires is 20-gauge, half-hard wire, though
18-gauge wire (even 22-gauge wire with some hardening) would work. Jump
rings can be made using 16- to 22-gauge half-hard wire. Softer or
finer-gauge wire will make less secure jump-ring closures. Depending on
the size of hole in your beads and how sturdy and hard working the pin
needs to be, head pins and eye pins can be made using 18- to 22-gauge
everywhere--as clasps, jump rings, head pins, and ear wires, sure--but
also as the decorative coils and swirls, the bails and connectors, the
sticks and dangles, even finger rings. Master the wire basics of making
your own findings as well as the wire beyond-basics of fun and
fashionable wire jewelry projects from industry favorites when you
subscribe to Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine.
Do you make your own jewelry findings? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!