Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Today's worktable involved a custom order of a slightly different nature, and I decided to turn it into a pictorial tutorial. (sorry, unintentional rhyme)

The customer brought in a strung bracelet and asked for it to be turned into earrings. This, in and of itself, was not unusual. However, she wanted big swinging hoop earrings with the same flexibility as the bracelet; essentially, she wanted me to cut the bracelet in half and make 2 smaller "bracelets" out of it, and hang them from earwires. And incidentally, she wanted each earring to be about 3/4 the size of the bracelet. (3/4 plus 3/4 equals 1.5, we'll just ignore that math for now)

This is the bracelet I had to work with; she also brought in the matching, broken earrings, so I would have a couple of additional beads. The green beads are plastic, in a pretty peridot AB, and the metal beads are base metal.

My first step was to cut everything apart, and divide all the beads into 2 equal piles:
There were 5 extra beads, reflecting the odd number of beads and spacers in the bracelet. I just couldn't figure out a comfortable way to make these earrings asymmetrical, so I decided to do without the unpaired extra beads.

Using flexible beading wire, I played around with different stringing designs for over 2 hours before I finally got something I liked. This sounds like an awful lot of time to spend on this project, but the customer didn't want me to add any additional beads (she wanted to avoid any extra cost), and no matter how I strung the beads, the result was simply too short, and caused the earring to hang in a pronounced, squared-off, "shelf" type of pattern - the large bead at the bottom of the loop flattening out the design at the bottom.
I ultimately gave up, added some 3mm Czech firepolish glass to the design, and am much happier with the nice soft, rounded loop that forms now. They just needed some additional length! This picture shows the 5 extra beads I couldn't use - I'm just not ready to make asymmetrical earrings yet! But I sure could have used them to add length to my design!

Once I was happy with the strung design, I put the free ends of the beading wire through a 2x2 crimp tube:

Don't crimp yet!

Now, place the free ends, one at a time, through the opposite "legs" of a wire guardian:

The picture above shows the free ends of the beading wire extending up through the legs of the guardian, with a little closer detail in the next pic:

Next, cross the free ends over each other, and bring each free end down through the opposite leg of the guardian. This step is a little complicated to explain in pictures, so I added a little text to the next picture. The earring on the left shows the first part of this step, with one free end taken up the right leg of the guardian and then down the left leg. The earring on the right shows both free ends brought back down through the guardian:

Next, bring the free ends of the beading wire down through the crimp bead:

Here is a slightly different angle of this same step:

Next, bring each free end down through a few of the strung beads on each side, if desired:
You'll notice that in the process of manipulating the ends of the beading wire through the wire guardian, your beading wire may slip out of the top of the wire guardian temporarily. This is OK - just keep an eye on it, and remember to tighten down all this slack before you crimp.

And speaking of crimping, that's the next step. Tighten both ends of your beading wire, carefully pulling, in small increments, first on one, and then the other, until they are both tightened to the degree you desire. I like to leave about 1mm of empty beading wire above and below my crimp, as shown below, because I like to cover my crimps with crimp covers. If you aren't going to cover your crimps, you probably don't want to leave this much space!
When I crimp, I use my chainnose pliers to squeeze the crimp as flat as possible, and I also crimp the hollow tube ends of the wire guardian, so that I get a "double crimp" effect. I used to use a crimping tool, but was thoroughly unsatisfied with the results, and ever since I switched to completely flattening the crimp tubes, I have not had any slippage. And I don't have to worry about the crimp's sharp corners, because I cover it with a crimp cover, and get a pretty result, to boot!

Next, I placed a jumpring through the wire guardian, and then placed the jumpring into the loop on the earwire. My original intent had been to hang the wire guardian directly on the earwire, but it was a little too thick to fit in the earwire loop, so I had to resort to jump rings. (If I had known ahead of time, I would have slid a soldered ring into the guardian before looping the beading wires back around, as the soldered ring would have added a bit more security to the earring).

I actually had to use 2 jumprings for each earring, in order to get the earring oriented correctly when it hung from the earwire.
Not a bad little earring, and really quite a short, simple project. As with all stringing projects for me, the most time consuming part is settling on the design!

I have also sketched out a graphic representation of the crimp and wire guardian steps - I am painfully aware that I can't draw, but I did my best! Please feel free to ignore these sketches if they only confuse the issue - it really isn't meant to be complicated! Many apologies for my handwriting!

Step 1: Put both free ends of the flexible beading wire through one 2x2 crimp; do NOT crimp:
Step 2: Put each end of the beading wire through an opposing "leg" of a wire guardian:
Step 3: Crossing the free ends over each other, bring each back down the other leg of the guardian. First, the right-sided free end goes down the left leg (in this diagram)
Step 4: Now the left-sided free end crosses over and goes down the right leg:
Step 5: Tighten up the beading wire, getting out all the desired slack, and crimp!

Here is a picture of wire guardians - these are the most fantastic finding! They are small, horseshoe-shaped findings, with legs that resemble crimp tubes, and the top of the horseshoe being open, for easier manipulation of the beading wire. I use these for all my strung projects, in basically the same way as outlined in this tutorial, except the beading wire just has one free end at each end - The free end goes through the crimp, then up one leg of the wire guardian, over the top, and down the other leg. You then slide your clasp on (or chain), snap it into the horseshoe portion of the wire guardian, and glide the free end of the beading wire through the crimp tube. Then crimp as above. I always crimp both the crimp tube AND the very ends of the wire guardian, for a double crimp effect. Followed by a crimp cover over the crimp.

I placed some copper headpins through the legs of a couple of the wire guardians, hoping to better display their tubular, crimp bead-like nature, and to show how the top of the guardians is an open tunnel.


Halinka said...

There was a little 'play' with it,to turn the bracelet into two earrings,but I think,You had to add some beads there-I'd do so as well,despite the additional cost,because it now looks much more better,with the firepolish addition.The earrings would have made the impression of being too heavy,without them.Technically,I remembered the trick with those endings of the line and what to do with them,because,before beadweaving I concerned mostly with the jewels of this type.
Fine work and fine effect.

peaceyoga said...

I really enjoyed this tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

peaceyoga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. R. Kuhlman said...

This is such a fantastic tutorial! I've made earrings in a similar manner before, but never really considered using that little wire guard. That will totally make life easier when trying to make earrings like this in the future. Not to mention that the look is a lot more polished with that little crimp bead cover.

Hi, I'm Linda said...

Great tutorial. I have a pair on earrings on my work table right now that I need to crimp off. I was not familiar with wire guardians. Thanks for sharing.

dreaminofbeads / SAS Jewelry Designs said...

Really good tutorial...thanks, I think I will have to make some earrings like these. They look so fun. I agree with you wire guardians are wonderful components.