Make These Wire and Crystal Earrings Tonight!

Oct 16, 2013

Twice this year, I've bumped into Patti Bullard, the inventor of Wubbers pliers. The first time was at my taping of Beads, Baubles, and Jewels (which you'll get to read about next week), and the second time was at Bead Fest Philadelphia where I got to see the entire line of Wubbers pliers. Patti offered to send me some of the Wubbers so that I could try them out with some of my new wire jewelry-making ideas, and I was absolutely delighted and floored when a box arrived at my house with an incredible array of pliers -- more than I knew what to do with!

Well, what else would this newby to the wonderful world of wire jewelry do with a full set of Wubbers? Make some earrings, of course! I've always thought that earring making is the best way to learn new skills, and it goes for wire jewelry-making skills, too. So I grabbed a few pairs of my new Wubbers and a couple of crystal beads from my bead buddy Stephanie Dixon to see if I could make a funky pair of earrings that used just two crystals.

One wire technique that I love is wrapping a fine-gauge wire around a heavier gauge. The finished look is "messy chic", and goes pretty well with my usual style. I picked out some natural copper wire and a nice, heavy gauge of antique brass craft wire, and sat down to make a funky earring-making project using just two crystals!

Materials:

  • 18 inches of 18 gauge craft wire
  • 10 feet (or more) of 26 gauge craft wire in color to contrast 18 gauge wire
  • (2) 14x10 oval Swarovski crystal beads
  • Ear wires of your choice (or make your own with additional wire!)

Tools:

  • Flush cutters
  • Wubbers looping pliers (or your favorite pair of combination pliers)
  • Wubbers Extra-large round mandrel pliers
  • Flat nose or chain nose pliers
  • Bench block (optional)
  • Chasing hammer (optional)

Cut the 18 gauge wire into two 9 inch pieces, and set one aside. Using either the Wubbers looping pliers or your favorite combination pliers, make a simple loop at the bottom of the wire. If desired, use your bench block and chasing hammer to flatten the loop. (If you want a flat loop, do it now, before you slide your crystal bead onto the wire!)

Slide one crystal oval bead onto the wire, and using your chain nose or combination pliers, make a small 1/8" bend in the wire at the top of the crystal. Wrap the remaining wire around the largest jaw of the Wubbers Extra-large Circle mandrel pliers 2 1/2 times.

If you want to tighten up or firm up your wire circles, use your chasing hammer to give a gentle tap to the wire around the jaw of the Wubbers.

Make another 90 degree bend at the top of the circle, with the crystal bead hanging down below.

This is, admittedly, the hardest part of the earring making project. If you're a perfectionist, you can get a ruler and measure exactly where the bend should be so that you get a perfectly symmetrical earring. Or, you can do what I did, and just make your best guess and enjoy the results!

Now for the fun part! Cut 5 feet of the 26 gauge wire and just start wrapping your huge circle wire shapes! Your wraps can be neat and clean, if you like, or you can just go at it and let the wire fall where it may. (I prefer the latter option.)

Because 5 feet of 26 gauge wire is a whole lot to handle on each and every wrap, I cut that piece into smaller pieces and just wrapped my little heart out. It went much faster, the wire didn't kink up, and I got that "messy chic" look that I was after.

To finish the ends of your wire, you can wrap them under your working wire, or just wrap them, trim the edge as close as you can with your flush cutters, and use your chain nose or flat nose pliers to smush the ends into your wraps.

I have to admit that I really love the look of the mixed metals in this wire earring making project, and I'm eager to see what other shapes made by my Wubbers pliers can be wrapped with fine-gauge copper wire! I'm already thinking up variations on these to use as components for bracelets, or even smaller wrapped links for a short wire and crystal bead necklace. What other uses for these can you think of?

If you've been bit by the wire bug like I have, you'll want to check out Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. Get inspiration from your favorite wire jewelry artists, and information from our trusted editors about new tools, beads, techniques, and books in the world of wire. Subscribe to Step By Step Wire Jewelry and wrap your way through winter with some hot wire jewelry projects.

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

 


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