How to Get the Perfect Crimp

Feb 9, 2011

 

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a

contributing editor to Beading Daily

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I'm one of those folks who often do things by the seat of their pants. I just assume I can barrel through anything and get it right the first time. I rarely do, of course! For instance, I was just out for a night on the town with a friend, and we passed a dance hall. It was Milonga night, an Argentinian tango-type dance with a very specific beat. We looked at each other and said, "Yes! Let's do it! It doesn't look hard!" But when we got out on the dance floor, we realized there was no amount of liquid courage that could make us look good dancing this very specific dance when we didn't have a clue about how to do it. Some things you just can't fake. Some things you need lessons in order to master them.

I tried to just wing it when I learned how to crimp my strung designs, too. I figured, "Yeah! Just string this thingamabobby here, pass it back through the whatsit there, and squish it with this gizmo over here." My blind ambition made my beautifully strung pieces look horrible, with pointy flat squares of metal at the ends that would snag clothing and scratch at skin. I learned quite quickly that crimping, like the milonga, is a definite art. Something to be learned carefully and with instruction.

I learned how to crimp properly several years ago when I helped launch Stringing magazine. It's a really basic technique, so I'm always surprised when I run across a beader who isn't familiar with it. Again, it just needs to be taught! So I thought I'd revisit good old crimping today, giving you all a quick lesson on its fine art. It can be done in 7 easy steps:

1) Figure your desired jewelry length, subtract the clasp or other finding length, and add 2–3". Cut beading wire to that length.

2) String a crimp bead or tube. Pass the wire end through the clasp (or whatever finding you’re using), leaving a 1" tail.

3) Pass the wire end back through the crimp in the opposite direction to make a loop. Snug the crimp so it’s about 1/8" from the finding. (Much tighter than that will cause your wire to abrade.)

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4) Slightly separate the wire ends so they line the sides of the tube. Tightly squeeze the tube with the back notch of crimping pliers. The tube will turn into a U shape.

 

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5) Turn the crimp 90° and nestle it inside the pliers’ front notch. Gently squeeze the pliers to collapse it on itself. If necessary, continue to make gentle squeezes around the crimp to round and shape it into a perfect cylinder.

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6) String beads on the wire. If the bead holes are large enough, slide the beads over the wire tail, too. If not, use wire cutters to trim the tail close to the crimp.

7) When you’re about 2" from the other wire end, test the piece for fit. Adjust the bead strand as necessary. String a crimp and the other side of the clasp. Pass back through the crimp and as many beads on the strand as possible. Snug the beads and crimp as before. Trim any excess wire.


Pretty easy, eh? It's the technique you need to know to create strong, beautiful pieces of jewelry like those in Stringing magazine, one of my favorite, most inspirational beading magazines!

 

Happy beading-


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