Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wrapped and loopy!

Okay so by now I know your probably thinking, "isn't this supposed to be about beading?!". Well, of course it is. The raw truth of it is that beading encompasses a wide range of materials not limited to thread and a needle. Here I am going to show you how to EASILY make PERFECT wrapped loops. On the forum that I frequent I often stubble on people who are struggling to perfect these, so I figured I would try and help. Personally, I think this is the simplest way to make them...I taught myself and they worked the FIRST TIME I tried!!! I hope that this helps you accomplish the same!

1) Cut a length of wire. I usually double the length that I would like to eventually end up with - only because I would rather come up having over done it than under done. As you make more wrapped loops you will get a sense of how to cut only how much you will need. In this example I am using 22 gauge copper wire.

2) Take the wire in between your round nose pliers. Two things to take note of...first, when you grip the wire you want to leave a good length tail - the shorter side or tail of the wire is the part you will be wrapping at the base of the loop. Second, the longer side should be long enough to make the loop AND be the pin - in other words, if you want the eye pin to be 1 inch long then you will want to have say around 2 inches of working room - the extra inch will be for the tail and the loop and leave you with about an inch of pin so that when your done you have a eye pin that is at least an inch long. Follow? Hope so! Also, you will want to take note of the circumference of the round nose pliers and where you are gripping the wire. The closer to the tips of the pliers the smaller the loop and the further away from the tips the larger the loop.

3) While griping the wire with your round nose pliers use your index finger on your other hand to gently push the LONG end of the wire around the tine (one side) of the pliers until that end is flat to the side of the pliers.

4) If you remove the wire from the pliers. You should have this so far:

5) Next, place the loop back around the tine of the pliers so that you are griping the middle of the loop. *laugh* Please excuse the strange hand-position in the below picture...taking a picture of your own hand pointing that way is kinda difficult.

6) Now, while griping the wire, bend the LONG end so that it lines up with the direction of the short or tail end. It should look like this:

7) Now...this is the hardest part of the whole takes some time to develop your judgment on this one and I still mess up sometimes...but it's easily correctable. When you look at the very tips of the tines on most sets of round nose pliers you will find that there is one tine that has a smaller circumference and one that has a larger one. You will want to bend on the small-circumference tine of the pliers. So, when placing your pliers on the wire, the large circumference tine will be inside the loop and the small circumference tine will be on the outside. Using the very tip of the pliers, you will want to place the pliers just beyond where the longer side of the wire starts to curve into the loop.

8) While holding the wire here, bend the LONG end of the wire so that it is perpendicular to the tail - this should give you the "kink" in the wire that allows for the loop to be at the center of the wire instead of off to the side. So far you should have this:

9) Now, if you are still with me...Here is where we are going to use a pair of bent nose pliers and a pair of nylon nosed pliers (to prevent marring on the loop, get more surface area, and keep a better grip on the wire). Place the loop into the jaws of your nylon pliers so that the TAIL is parallel to the side of the pliers and pointing toward you. It should look like this:

10) Now, take your bent nose pliers and grip the tail so that you can bend the wire back around the long pin which is sticking straight up. The best way to do this is to position the bent nose pliers so that the full length of the bent tip is holding the wire and so the tip of the pliers are close to the base of the tail (this will give you more control). Keep in mind that you will be using your wrists and hand position in a way that best suits bending the wire which may SEEM awkward at first. Just trust me long as you can bend wire you can get this! I know I tell you to trust me a lot me! This should be how it looks before you start bending:

11) Keep in mind that while you are bending the wire around the EASIEST way to ensure a close, compact coil is to keep the bent nose pliers level to the nylon pliers as you bend. (Note: I had a helper take the pictures since both my hands were occupied!) This is how it should look as you are bending the wire around for the first coil:

12) After you have gone fully around the first time use your bent nose pliers to ensure that the coil is tightly closed around the wire by placing the coil in the jaws and "pushing" it tightly closed. Kinda like this:

13) After tightening the first round, continue to wrap. The rest of the coils should stay tight as you wrap. If you keep the wire level, the wire should naturally fall above the previous coil. I suggest to do a minimum of 3 coils before you finish it off. But of course, I can't control what you that will depend on your desire and! IF you do have problems getting the coils to sit compactly then you can use your bent nose pliers to squash them closer by placing the nylon pliers in between the jaws of the bent nose pliers and then use the edge of the bent nose pliers to squash them down, something like this:

14) Don't fret!!! We are ALMOST to the end!!! Now all we have left is to finish off the piece. IF you happen to have a lot of extra wire left on the tail and don't want to just wrap it till the end you can take your wire cutters and nip off the excess like this:

OR you can just finish wrapping the wire till you are close to the end.

15) YOU'RE NOT DONE YET!!!!!! One of the most disturbing things that I have seen on other artists wire work is that they stop at step 14 and think they are finished! The reason this is "disturbing" (or should I say "damaging") is because you are still left with a dangerously sharp little nub that MUST - I say MUST be pushed down or this can cause serious injury to various sundry body parts of the future wearer of said piece! I have had one actually rip a lovely little hole in my fun. See said nub:

16) To secure nub back toward the wire, take your bent nose pliers and grip the coil (nub included) so that the end of the nub is pointing the same direction as the ends of the bent nose pliers...and carefully squeeze it down till resting directly above the previous coil and tip securely against the pin of the wire. See position of pliers before squeezing:

17) Guess what you have???? A PERFECT WRAPPED LOOP!!!! See? I SAID you could do it!!!

Yay!! I hope everyone was successful in this endeavor! Next post we will be talking about the world of inspiration for us beaders, jewelers, and now wire workers (*wink*). Inspire and be inspired!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wire didn't I think of this before?!!

Wire wrapping is definitely a beneficial skill to learn when your into beading - inevitably you will find yourself interested in all aspects jewelry. Trust me when I say this - when you become a beader you become an artist, a designer, a JEWELER.

I have recently been experimenting with my wire skills - I have been improving on them for ages but my Magnolia House line is 100% one of a kind pieces and you can't continue that with no experimentation and challenging yourself! I have been SERIOUSLY inspired by the work of an artist that frequents Interweave's "Beading Daily" forums, Popnicute. Her deviant art site and artfire storefront are CHALK full of innovative wire work and unique designs. All things said I have been diving in head first. Wire? Yes please!

One of the coolest things I found is that my little butane torch will melt those copper ends to make headpins, etc NO problem! Nicer yet is that copper, when melted and cooled in water makes this nice rosy color. SWEET! So, with no further are my tips...

1) I am using 22 gauge wire here - cut a length of wire - be sure that it is not exceptionally short - you DO need length here...the longer the wire, interestingly enough, the easier it is to melt!
2) Hold the far end of the wire with your pliers - as far away from the end you are melting that you can comfortably.

3) Okay, now a lesson on the torch flame - the hottest point of the flame is right outside the tip of the innermost blue.
So, I know this pic is blurry - gotta give me some leeway here, its hard to take a pic of a flame! Anyway...notice the brighter blue and the faded blue? The hottest point is right past the brighter blue of the flame.

4) In trying to get a picture of this step I realized that I would have to have 3 hands - unfortunately I was only born with two - so we will have to rely on my stellar skills of explanation - don't panic. While griping the pliers with the wire pointing down (as pictured in my plier picture) insert the tip of the wire into the flame at the hottest point. Hold the wire there while it heats - it WILL glow - keep holding on...and all the sudden you will see a little ball of molten copper ball up at the end. Now you have a choice, you can let it ball up just a little or a whole lot - once you think you have about the size you want, you....

5) Quench that sucker!!!! Drop the wire into a bowl of water - it will sizzle and you will see some ick kinda pop off the wire - I'll be honest, I am not sure what EXACTLY that stuff is, we can suppose but what does it REALLY matter?
Do you know what you are left with??? A really cool headpin you made YOURSELF! And as I said before, the balled end will have a really cool rosy hue to it. Awesome, huh?

Okay so I know you are TOTALLY running to your work bench to give this a try! But a couple things - be sure to do this in a safe environment - when working with molten metal and open flame you must always take precautions - INCLUDING those geeky safety glasses...I am serious here. No one wants a headpin and no eyeballs.