Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wire wrap necklace tutorial: Designing your necklace

I haven't done a wire wrap necklace in forever. A couple days ago I dreamed up a necklace design that I sketched out later. I'm totally being serious, it came to me in a dream haha. I wish more important things would do that, like how to cure cancer in an affordable maintainable and reliable way, but nope! I get a necklace design out of the blue. Anyways!

The design itself wasn't very different from other ones I've done but this one has this elegant way of using the ribbon tie as more than just a way to keep the necklace on your neck. Now, I'm not going to actually GIVE you the design, if you want to copy it for your first try, that's cool, but please don't copy it and sell it. That's not cool. What I DO think you should do is look at some Victorian architectural work or text embellishments for inspiration of your own design. Or you could do something more geometric. Really it's up to you.

SO! Again, do not use my necklace design for profit. It's not just illegal, it's harmful to me, and my well being. Don't make me starve on the streets and my cat would perish under a car tire without a home all because when you steal someone's work, you steal from their ability to pay their bills and feed themselves (and their cat if applicable).

Alright, let's get this show on the road. Remember where I said I sketched out my design? Well that's where you start. It doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to get across the nuances and shapes you want. It would be good to keep in mind that when doing this sort of necklace, there is a beginning and end to your larger wire gauge (the structure, that which holds the design) and you should be mindful of where you want to put it. You'll see what I'm talking about later. Another big thing is that you will want to plan how you'll close your necklace. You can't just make a full circle, wire doesn't really expand and putting the necklace on would be impossible. If you wanna make your necklace a crown, then by all means go full circle.

Some ideas that go well with this sort of necklace:

Satin ribbon tie- tie it in the back
Chain with a clasp (ring or lobster claw types)
Chain/ribbon with toggle
Leather cord with crushed wire wrap to ring plus clasp

Rough Sketch
There's a ton of ways to close the necklace. If you're low on money and have a tone of wire, you can make your own chain and toggle clasps pretty easily. I won't be going over that in this tutorial though, and if you reeeeally want to know how I'm sure google can find something.

The most important thing is that you can read your sketch, not that your sketch is clean and pretty. The only thing that needs to be pretty is your final product.

Once you have your sketch down, now you create your life sized design that will act as a pattern or guide. It's going to be similar to what sewing patterns do for making clothing... sort of. What you want is a large piece of paper, and you'll want to sketch out your design, but only half of it (unless for some reason you're doing something asymmetrical then you can sketch the whole thing out and skip the rest of this portion of the tutorial).

Sketched out half of the pattern
You'll want this sketch to not be super messy, but you don't need to worry about it being some fantastical work of art. Don't do what I did and use a pen. Use a pencil and an eraser. If you don't feel like you can do good shapes and angles free hand, use all those tools they made you get for geometry back in high school. In fact you probably would just need a ruler and a compass. If you want to be creative without spending money you could probably fine household items that would make neat stencils. If you have money to blow, you can visit your local craft store and get some. This particular design is way bigger than any others I've done so far. I honestly don't know how well this will end up, but I have high hopes so far. A good thing to remember is that the paper is flat. This means that your wire structure will need to be formed to actually fit a person and not be just flat. The skinny bit at the top will fold over the shoulder's of the wearer for instance, so keep that in mind when creating your pattern. If this seems difficult, then keep your design simple, or split it into parts. You can always connect your pieces after with links or wrap it directly onto other parts.

Fold pattern in half
Turn over and trace
pattern on back

Once that's done you'll want to fold it in half. Then flip it over and trace the design on the back of the paper. When you open the paper to the original side, you should now see the faint mirrored outline on the back. If you don't, you traced the wrong side of the back of the paper. If that's so, then just fold it, turn it over and trace the side you didn't trace.

Make sure you traced
the correct side
Now that you've traced the back, you'll want to complete the design and trace what's on the back. OR if you did it wrong the first time, just use the back of your design as the front. No need to keep tracing everything all over the place. You just want the whole thing done on one side.

What the finished design/pattern should look like.
Once you've got everything done there, you'll want to make a note where the ends of your design are. In this design the ends are in the center of both pieces. When actually putting these together I'll be wrapping them with smaller gauge wire, so in the pattern I use a different color marker and add wrapping to the end areas.

I also make note of the corners. A true sharp point isn't something you want in your necklace as you don't want to stab the wearer, nor is it something you can easily achieve with your pliers. When making a point in the design there's a good chance you'll be damaging the wire or stripping it of it's color, so keep that in mind. Also with colored wire, unless the actual metal is the color, it's going to be a sort of thing polymer coating. This coating will rip at extreme angles. This is also something to keep in mind when you're designing. If you just GOTTA have those angles and your color wire is stinky, you can always dip the points in a polymer based paint, or even acrylic paint. It'll help out with the issues, but it'll be really messy.

Pro tip: don't use a pen, use a pencil.

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