Perfect Wirework!

11 04 2011

Although most of my work is very “one-of-a-kind” and organic in nature, being a professional means that I don’t mess around with my wirework! It takes time and practice to achieve a clean line, and it can be difficult to get repeatable results.

One of the things I’ve been doing for years is to always prototype and document my new work. Whenever I develop a project for a  class, I write out notes and sketch my ideas – many don’t work out, but I often find an element of the idea that appeals to me, and I wind up using it for something totally different.

I also teach my students one of the “tricks” I use for wire components, which helps to really ensure repeatability – I create wire templates.

16g Wire Clasp Components

Once I know HOW to make something, I like to play around with different wire gauges and lengths – there’s no such thing as “one size fits all” so if something works, I always see how far I can take it! In the photo above, it’s easy to see how the different length of wire makes clasps of different sizes (you can learn to make a wire clasp in this TUTORIAL). This way, I can just pick the clasp that works for my project, and easily make it the same size. On one side of the tag I mark the wire gauge, on the other, the length.

Wire Wrapped Beads

Not just for clasps – I make this type of template for other wire components (such as wire spirals HERE), as well as these wire wrapped beads, so I can make sure to cut the right size wire when making bead links (I just love making the link with the zigzag on the wrap!).

And if you like to make earwires that are as creative as your earrings, than wire templates are a great help – it’s important to get the proportions accurate.

A Variety of Hooks and Hoops

I love creating different earwires – these are the ones I use most because they are the most flexible. You can make a whole earring wardrobe using simple gemstone or pearl drops, and putting them on different wires! I have already posted two tutorials in this blog for SIMPLE EARWIRES and SIMPLE HOOPS – I always seem to get alot of folks who check out the wire tutorials, so I’m thinking it’s time to post a few more… any favorites?? Just post a comment, and I’ll see what I can do!





The Mannequin’s Earrings!

22 08 2010

As I mentioned last week, I’ve just started working with a jewelry mannequin to take  my photos. As thrilled as I am with how it all comes together, I gotta ask one simple question:

Do the people who design these things ever talk to the people who use them??

Not Quite Right...!

Take a look at this – I’m just trying to put an earring in. Nothing fancy… just a regular earwire. The mannequin has a hole in the ear, and the description specifically mentions that it’s for earrings, so I know I’m not doing anything wrong.

She's a Hard Headed Woman!!

Now this just doesn’t make sense – you have a hole for the earring, and yet… you can’t actually put most earring on! Probably a post earring would work, but give me a break! It would have been soooooo easy for the designer to make a slight adjustment to accommodate a majority of the earrings. The ear could have been made a bit thinner, or the area behind the ear could have been sculpted deeper, so that the wires wouldn’t hit. To me, if they would have tested this with peopl who actually use it, they would know that it needs to be changed a little.

The Fix...

So in order to use it, the earwires need to be bent and reshaped every time , and that’s unacceptable! So l have come up with a solution… not the greatest, but it’s the best fix I can think of – I now have a slightly shorter, and different curved earwire “permanently” stuck in the ear. Instead of manipulating the earwires on my earrings, I gently remove the hanging part, and put it on the mannequin’s earwire for the photo, then put it back on the real earwire when I’m done. This works for most of my earrings… but my designs with long soldered earwires will never get photographed on the mannequin!

I love how this looks, but the designer should have put the head in beta test!!





Ear Wires Anyone??

24 04 2010

I am a hard core tool junkie… it’s hard for me to imagine any jewelry making tool that I wouldn’t want to own! Hammers, and pliers, and drill bits, oh my! But a few years ago, I started seeing some new jigs in magazines that were specifically made for creating ear wires, and couldn’t help thinking…. WHY???

Creating ear wires is easy, needs no special tools, and is a skill that anyone making jewelry should be able to do. I have a one page handout that I made for my students, but you don’t need to take a class with me – I’m posting the “how-to” right here!

STEP 1: Cut a piece of 20g wire between 1.5- 2 inches. File both ends of the wire, and make a single loop on one side. You should always make pairs together, one step at a time, so they are consistent.

STEP 2: Using a pen as a mandrel (the “ridged” type pen works very nicely), bend the wire around the pen – keep the loop as shown, don’t let the loop turn to the side. Pull both sides of wire down around the pen barrel, then PUSH the loop under the barrel until ear wire shape is seen. Pushing the loop under the pen gives you a “swoop” in the wire.

STEP 3: For a nice professional touch, use pliers to create slight bend at the end of the wire. Hammer the curves, or tumble to harden.

Have fun, and experiment! You can make larger ear wires by cutting longer wire, and using a pen with a larger barrel than shown. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll bee creating all different wonderful styles to go with your designs.