Learning to Speak the Language – Part 3: Tools of the Trade

Back in October, we published our second post in our Learn the Language series, and it was all about bead styles and shapes. Then the holiday season hit, and we got quite busy (woo hoo!) so we didn’t get the chance to shower you with great facts and helpful tips about jewelry-making terminology. But fear not — we’re back in the blogging game, and this week we’ll be talking about jewelry-making tools, so get ready to start making a list of cool tools you’ll want to add to your stash!

The Basics for Stringing and Wire Work
The following tools are what we consider to be the absolute essentials when it comes to jewelry-making. They’ll get you where you need to go when it comes to basic stringing projects, as well as creating earrings and wirework necklaces or bracelets — and beyond! Most, if not all, of these tools can be found for under $15, and they are well worth the moderate investment.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Chain Nose Pliers
These are a crucial, all-purpose pair of jewelry pliers. It’s best to purchase a pair of chain nose pliers meant for jewelry-making as opposed to those meant for household projects because 1) the jaws are smaller, making them easier to use for fine work and 2) the inside of the jaws are smooth, unlike most pliers one can find in a hardware store. Smooth jaws won’t scrape beads or mar soft wire, such as sterling silver and gold-filled.
Uses: wrapping wire, holding onto small components, tucking wire ends in.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Round Nose Pliers
These are what we consider to be our primary “loop-makers,” although you can also use them to hold jewelry pieces in place and keep an already-existing loop round. They are ideal for creating loops on headpins or eyepins, one of the most important steps in making earrings and other wire jewelry.
Uses: creating wire loops, rounding out an existing loop that’s been smushed, holding components

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Flush Cutters
When beading, you should always have a pair of flush cutters handy for two reasons: one, scissors won’t work for cutting stiff wire, or even beading cord made with flexible wires (such as SoftFlex or Beadalon), and two, any time you cut wire, the part you leave behind should have a blunt (flush) tip, not a sharp tip that can scrape your skin, catch your hair, or snag fabric.
Uses: cutting Craft Wire, sterling wire, gold-filled wire, woven beading wire (SoftFlex, Beadalon, etc.)

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Crimping Pliers
When it comes to finishing off a project using SoftFlex/Beadalon, nothing beats the strength and security you will achieve by using crimping pliers with your crimp beads! Crimping pliers have a unique set of jaws with two notches, each very crucial to the crimping process. (Simply do a search on Pinterest for “crimping pliers” and numerous how-to videos will pop up.) Crimping just takes a little bit of practice — you’ll be making secure necklaces & bracelets in no time!
Uses: attaching/anchoring crimp beads to Softflex or Beadalon beading cord.

That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for Part 4: Specialty Tools of the Trade!

All photos courtesy of The Bead Smith.

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Briana’s Blue Square Necklace: A Helpful How-To

The lovely completed necklace!

Briana’s Blue Square Necklace

All of the finished jewelry pieces we feature here at Blue Door Beads are made in-house by our creative staff. Even though our pieces are all one-of-a-kind, every once in a while we come up with designs that customers really get a kick out of replicating and modifying in lots of different ways. One of our more popular designs was developed by Briana, and not only is it a fresh, modern design, but it’s easy to create, too!

Materials and tools you will need:

  • 24 gauge wire in a metal of your choice (Briana chose silver-plated Craft Wire)
  • 20 gauge wire in same metal
  • 14 one-inch glass tube beads (Briana used 25mm x 2mm tube beads)
  • Approximately 16 inches of chain of your choice
  • Two 5mm jump rings
  • A small-to-medium lobster claw
  • Round nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers OR Wubbers Small Square Mandrel pliers
  • Wire cutters

photo 2

Step 1:
Cut 14 pieces of your 24g wire, each one measuring approximately 1.5 inches long.

Step 2:
Using your round nose pliers, take one piece of cut wire and create a simple loop on one end. Place one of your tube beads on the wire and create another simple loop on the other end. (NOTE: make sure both of your loops are oriented in the same direction.) Repeat with all 14 of your cut pieces of 24g wire and all of your tube beads.

The beginning of Step 2.

The beginning of Step 2.

The end result of Step 2.

The end result of Step 2.

Step 3:
Cut approximately 5 inches of 20g wire.

Step 4:
Using either your chain nose pliers or Wubbers Small Square Mandrel pliers (available for customers to use and purchase through Blue Door Beads), create two defined 90-degree right angles in your 20g wire, resulting in a squarish, U-shaped piece with the bottom of the “U” being about an inch wide. Use nylon jaw pliers (or your fingers) to smooth out and straighten the sides of your “U” if necessary.

Step 4.

Step 4.

Step 5:
Take one tube bead link and slide it onto the “U”. This means sliding one end of the 20g wire through each of the simple loops of the link. Repeat for all remaining links.

Step 5.

Midway through Step 5.

Step 6:
Once you have stacked all 14 links one on top of the other, you should have a small amount of 20g wire exposed at the top of either side of the “U”. Using your round nose pliers, create simple loops on each side, directly above your last tube bead link.

End of Step 6.

End of Step 6.

Step 7:
Add chain by gently opening the simple loops at the top of either side of your “U” with your chain nose pliers, then hook one open loop onto each end of the chain. Close your simple loops with your chain nose pliers.

Step 8:
Once your chain has been attached to either side of your square pendant, cut your chain at the mid point. You should now have two 8-inch chain segments attached to your square pendant, one on each side. Attach your lobster claw clasp on one side of your chain using one 5mm jump ring, and add the last 5mm jump ring to the other side of your chain for your clasp to hook on to.

The lovely completed necklace!

The lovely completed necklace!

Ta-da! You are now the proud owner of a sweetly simple, yet elegantly modern necklace. If you have any trouble completing your project, come on down to Blue Door Beads and we’ll help you out! Stay tuned for more How-To’s from Blue Door Beads staff in the coming weeks!

Inspiration Found in Nature

We like the idea of finding inspiration in everyday objects. Although we can always appreciate gorgeous architecture or amazing artwork, it can be easy to overlook the small things all around us that are often equally beautiful. We highly encourage you to stop and smell the roses every once in a while — literally! There’s just something about taking the time to stroll around your neighborhood and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that can be really relaxing and energizing at the same time.

We were recently inspired by a couple of everyday “hidden treasures” found in nature: bird’s nests and pea pods.

We love the idea of tiny somethings being nestled in a protective shell or nest. They can symbolize many things, including growth, vulnerability, and temporary beauty. We say “temporary” because eventually eggs will hatch, and (chances are) the pea pods will be eaten….maybe with a little bit of ranch dressing. 🙂

The pieces pictured, however, are a more permanent way to enjoy these small samples of nature! We will be offering classes for you to learn how to create woven wire pea pods and bird’s nests to wear as pendants, earrings or charms. Trade out the freshwater pearls in the nest for small blue beads to create a robin’s nest, or find some speckled gems for a quail’s nest. As for the pea pods, why not create orange or pink pea pods? Pink peas may not be the norm, but there’s nothing that says nature can’t be open to a bit of creative interpretation!