Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wire wrapping necklace tutorial: Creating the basic frame

Now the time has come! We're actually going to start making this thing! Aren't you excited? No? Oh well. This portion of the tutorial is to create the frame from which the wire will be wrapped and woven around. It's the back bone of your necklace.
Finished frame

To start out you'll need to get your tools, your thick gauge wire, and your pattern. First you'll want to cut a length of wire for your piece. Unless you want to sit there and measure out each twist and turn which could take a long time, you can just 'eyeball-it'. The problem you might run into if you eyeball-it is not giving yourself enough wire to do the whole pattern. You've been warned. What I usually do is find the middle of the length of wire and then start forming the middle of the necklace. For this tutorial though, I'll be going over the smaller piece in the back. It's just more photogenic.

Using your guide you'll want to rough out the shape. Give extra wire for sharper angles, but don't do the sharp angles now. This is important because once you've done a sharp angle it's there. No matter how much you want to undo it, you wont really be able to recoup the wire's smoothness, and most likely you'll start wearing on it's durability. Bend the wire enough and it'll become weak and break. This is especially so for the thinner wire. I've used the cloth covered pliers to do this so that I can keep the integrity of the wire as perfect as possible.

Using the guide is imperative, but don't forget
to check the frame on it's own.
Once you have the general shape all done and dandy, you'll need to deal with the ends. Your pattern should already tell you where you want the ends to be. If you just snip them at that point you'll be creating a sharp edge which will be a stabbing danger to who ever wears the necklace. To avoid this you'll make the smallest loop possible to bend the wire back onto itself. Take your fine point jeweler's pliers to make a tight angle back. From here you'll now want to snip off the extra wire. Remember to keep a a small tail of wire so we have something to work with to make the rounded end.

Use the flat nosed pliers to tighten this loop, finishing it so that it's more of a rounded edge. A loose loop has the chance of opening, a larger chance of snagging on clothing, or getting caught in other things, so tightness is important.

Now we need to tighten up our frame's angles where it needs it. 90 degree angles don't really need much touch up depending on how loose you were making the angles from blocking out the design. With the smaller piece I have 4 angles that are still pretty okay and don't need touching, and 2 angles that need some help, and 4 others that are extreme. Let's start with the extreme ones!

Yeah... I probably should have used some cloth to protect the edge for this, but here's a good reason why you need a soft nose or to use cloth!  The compression of the pliers will almost always create marks on your wire otherwise. Sometimes this is unavoidable. Sometimes it doesn't matter because you're going for the hand-made look and not the machine perfect look (as if that were possible with these tools anyways). Anyway, you want to take the angle and using flat pliers, pinch it so the wire is laying back against itself. This is the only way to get the sharp-yet-not-too-sharp angle you want. It's sharp enough to look good but not sharp enough to stab someone. So go over your design and make sure your corners are what they should be. Please note that once you do this you can't reform the frame, meaning if you need to fix the symmetry a part do it before you do the angles.

The next tutorial will go over closing the wire frame with basic wire wrapping.

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