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Beginners Instructions

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Instructions for making jewelry for beginners using common jewelry tools, jewelry wire, beads and common jewelry supplies:

WigJig Learn: For Beginners

Jewelry Making Instructions

Jewelry Making Skills

Jewelry Making Supplies

Jewelry Making Tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a Beginner, the most intimidating step in jewelry making is to begin.  The obvious first question is what do I need to know to begin.  In the following pages we will try to show the basic skills that are necessary in working with wire and beads and will identify some resources to visit to learn how to perform these skills.  The basic jewelry making skills that we will discuss will include how to cut jewelry wire, how to straighten jewelry wire, how to bend wire, how to make a loop, how to open and close loops, how to make a bead dangle, how to make a figure 8 connector, how to make earrings with a bead dangle a figure 8 connector and an ear wire finding, how to make more complex wire components on a WigJig, and how to connect wire components with a wrapped bead link to make a bracelet or necklace.  
 

Queen of Clubs Beaded Earrings Jewelry Making Project with pearl bead.    Queen of Clubs Beaded Earrings jewelry making project with Swarovski glass bead
Queen of Clubs Earrings

 

        Jewelry Supplies Required:

Jewelry Tools Required:

  • 10 inches of 18, 20 and 22G inexpensive practice jewelry wire
  • Two six mm beads
  • Two three mm beads
  • Ear wire findings (one pair)
  • Four head-pins
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Flush Cutter
  • Chain Nose or Bent Chain Nose Pliers (2)
  • Any WigJig acrylic jig
  • 30 minutes of free time

Jewelry Making Skills Required:

  • How to use a flush cutter to cut wire
  • How to grasp wire in pliers
  • How to use a WigJig to make jewelry wire components.

The jewelry wire cutters that we use for all of our jewelry making projects are called "Flush Cutters".  These cutters are specifically designed for jewelry and wire working projects to make a cut that leaves one side of the cut wire relatively flat or flush and the other side relatively sharp.  The cutters are designed to be used with the flat side of the cutters perpendicular to the wire to be cut and the beveled side of the cutters provides the sharp edge necessary to cut.  The perpendicular or flat side of the flush cutter will cut jewelry wire and leave a relatively flat end on the wire at that side.  The beveled side of the flush cutter will leave the cut wire with a sharp end.  Try cutting a piece of wire and see the two cut ends to understand this better.

Flush Cutter Jewelry Making Tool Flat Side Flush Cutter Jewelry Making Tool Beveled Side
Flat Side of Flush Cutter Beveled Side of Flush Cutter

For your jewelry making and wire projects always cut the wire so that the flat side of the cut wire remains on the finished piece.  This is important so that the finished component won't have any sharp ends to snag or cut.  This is accomplished by cutting with the flat side of the flush cutter toward the finished piece.  As shown, here are pictures demonstrating how to hold your flush cutters when cutting wire.  We also have pictures in our online book "Wire Design Basics".


Cutting Jewelry Wire Before the Cut Cutting Jewelry Wire After the Cut
Cutting Wire After the Cut

Finally, the flush cutters are designed for cutting "jewelry wire".  This is sterling silver, gold-filled, gold, brass or copper wire.  They are not designed to cut steel in any form and may be ruined if they are used to cut steel, including the Soft Flex or Tiger Tail bead stringing wire and/or memory wire. 

Safety Tip #1:  Always hold both ends of the wire as you cut it.  When the cut is made, the loose end of the wire tends to fly.  It can be a hazard to your eyes and it can be a hazard to your back as you crawl around on the floor trying to find the wire and pick it up.  Wearing safety glasses when jewelry making is often recommended, but it is safer still to make sure the loose end of the wire can not become a missile hazard. 

Safety Tip #2:  A good habit to have, is when you are cutting wire from a coil or spool to cut it so that the flat side of the cut remains on the spool or coil of wire.  This way the shorter wire segment that you work with will always have one sharp end and one flat end.  In addition, the wire on the spool with have a flat end so it will be less likely to hurt anyone who picks up that spool later. 

Safety Tip #3:  Flush cutters can be sharp and may not be suitable for young children.  Jewelry making is probably not appropriate for young children.

Jewelry Making -- How to Straighten Wire

Among the first steps in jewelry making is straightening the jewelry wire.  This step is mandatory because jewelry wire is sold in coils or on spools and develops a natural curl as a result of the way it is packaged. 

There are many jewelry tools to help in straightening jewelry wire.  One of the simplest and easiest to use is a piece of leather.  Fold the leather in 1/2 and use it to hold the wire.  Pull the wire through the leather several times while squeezing the leather in your fingers.  A jewelry tool that I prefer to use instead of leather, is nylon jaw pliers.  Instead of pulling the jewelry wire through leather, pull the wire through the jaws of nylon jaw pliers while squeezing the pliers closed.  Select here to view pictures of how to straighten wire using nylon jaw pliers. 

Sometimes when jewelry making you will find the the jewelry wire is too slippery to allow you to get a good grip for pulling the wire.  Should this be the case, you may find that it will be easier to pull the wire if you make a loop in one end and hold the wire by that loop while pulling it. In these Jewelry Making Beginner's Pages will provide instructions on how to make a loop.

We also have detailed pictures of how to straighten wire in our online book "Wire Design Basics".

Finally, you can view the four steps in straightening wire with nylon jaw pliers below:

Step 1 (start with a loop in your wire) Step 2 (grip the wire with your nylon jaw pliers)
 
Step 3 (pull the wire through your pliers several times) Step 4 (check to see if the wire is straight.)

 

Jewelry Making -- How to Bend Wire

When bending wire for jewelry making, one needs to consider the finished piece.  Quite frequently, you will just need to bend the jewelry wire to make an angle in the wire.  This is one of the steps in making many jewelry wire components -- making a sharp, crisp bend in the wire.  Making a crisp bend in wire is done by grasping the wire firmly in the jaws of chain nose or bent chain nose pliers.  Hold the wire so that it is essentially perpendicular to the jaws of the pliers.  Then push the wire against the jaws of the pliers.  Push by pressing the wire as close to the jaws as possible. 

A jewelry tool called "chain nose pliers" have smooth, flat jaws so that they can hold the jewelry wire while spreading the gripping force across the flat face of the pliers and thereby leaving minimal marks on the wire.  The needle nose pliers used by electricians are not an acceptable substitute for jeweler's chain nose pliers because they contain grooves which leave marks on wire.  In general, the better chain nose pliers have thin tapered tips (about 1mm at the tip).  This feature becomes important when making the bend in the wire necessary to complete the wrapped bead link. 

This technique is a very basic jewelry making skill.  We have pictures of how to perform this technique shown here.  We also have detailed pictures in our jewelry making online book "Wire Design Basics". 

You can view the two steps in bending wire below:

 


Bending Wire -- Grasp the Wire Bending Wire -- Push the wire against the jaws of the pliers.

 

Jewelry Making -- How to Make a Loop

One of the most used skills in jewelry making is the skill of making a loop.  There are essentially two types of loops, the most basic or a "P" loop, and the "Eye" loop.  A "P" loop earned its name because it looks like the letter P.  Making the P loop is accomplished by grasping the jewelry wire near the end with your round nose pliers and twisting the pliers while gripping the wire firmly.  Continue to twist the pliers and with the pliers, the wire, until the end of the wire touches the wire tail.  You may need to reposition your grip on the wire to complete the P loop.  For detailed pictures and instructions in this technique visit our jewelry making instructions and pictures of how to make a "P" loop here

Once you understand how to make a P loop, you need to understand how to make the loop in different sizes.  This is really quite simple.  Grip the wire closer to the tips of your round nose pliers and you will make a smaller loop.  Grip the wire closer to the hinge in the pliers and you will make a larger loop.  As you become proficient in making loops, you will learn to grip the jewelry wire in the same location on your pliers to make the same size loop. 

Just like with chain nose pliers, the best round nose pliers will have small tips (1mm) and will taper out, becoming larger toward the hinge in the pliers. 

The next type of loop to learn in jewelry making is the eye loop.  Making an Eye loops begins by making a P loop as described above.  After you complete the P loop you grip the wire near the tips of your round nose pliers, at the point where the end of the wire touches the wire tail on the inside of the loop.  Then bend the wire back so that the wire tail is centered on the center of the loop.  Visit here for jewelry making instructions and pictures of how to convert a "P" Loop to an eye loop.

Eye Loop Jewelry Making Technique Open Loop Jewelry Making Technique
Eye Loop Open Loop

Finally, another way to make a similar loop to the eye loop, called an open loop, can be found here.

Jewelry Making -- How to Open and Close Loops

Frequently when jewelry making, you will find that you need to connect two jewelry components.  One easy way to connect jewelry wire components is via an open jump ring.  A jump ring is a circle of wire.  You can an enlarged view of one jump ring at right.  The jump ring shown here is an "open" jump ring because it has an opening that will allow us to connect wire components to this jump ring.  The process for connecting items to a jump ring requires us to open the jump ring, make the connection and then close the jump ring.  Opening a jump ring must be performed in a way that will preserve the shape of the jump ring so that it can be closed and will have essentially the same shape.  In the following paragraphs we describe how to open and close a jump ring.  Please select here to view our free jewelry making video on opening and closing loops to connect wire components.

Opening a jump ring can be performed with one pair of chain nose pliers and some strong fingernails, or it can be performed with two pair of chain nose pliers.  In the pictures below we will show how to connect a wire component to a jump ring with two pair of chain nose pliers.  The first step in connecting a wire component to a jump ring is to grip the jump ring with both pair of pliers.  Grip the jump ring with the pliers on either side of the opening of the jump ring.  See below-left.  To open the ring, twist one pair of the pliers up and the second pair of pliers down.  See below, center-left.  With the jump ring opened, connect your wire component as shown below, center-right.  Once the connection is made then re-grip the jump ring as shown below-right. 

Grip Twist to Open
 





Connect Re-Grip

Close the jump ring by twisting the pliers in the opposite direction that you used to open the jump ring.  To make the closed jump ring as perfect as possible, grip the jump ring in the jaws of your bent closing pliers.  Position the opening in the jump rings against one jaw of the pliers as shown below-center, then squeeze gently to ensure that the jump ring is closed properly.  Many people like to squeeze the jump ring enough so that it is slightly oblong and no longer perfectly round.  An oblong jump ring, with the opening of the jump ring on the short axis of the oval shape will naturally cause the jump ring to orientate itself so that the connected wire components will align themselves on the long axis and will therefore not pull against the opening of the jump ring.  You can view an oblong jump ring below-right. 




Twist to Close Squeeze to Finish Connected Components

The tool that was used above to help in closing the jump ring is called bent closing pliers.  These pliers have grooves or notches carved in the jaws of the pliers to help hold the wire firmly without allowing it to slip.  You can view our recommended bent closing pliers here (Item 4005).  Bent closing pliers are not a mandatory tool, but you will find that almost every professional jewelry maker will have at least one pair. Please select here to view our free instructions on how to use bent closing pliers to close gaps in loops.

Closing a loop with Bent Closing Pliers Jewelry Making Technique Figure 8 Connector Jewelry Wire Finding
Using Bent Closing Pliers Figure 8 Connector

Please note that this same approach will apply to any open loop, whether it is on a jump ring, or the beginning or ending loop in a wire component made on one of our WigJig tools, or to a loop in a figure 8 connector or alternate figure 8 connector.  For beginners who may not be familiar with a figure 8 connector, you can view one at right.

Jewelry Making -- How to Make a Bead Dangle

Wrapped Loop Bead Dangle Jewelry Making TechniqueThe first question is exactly what is a bead dangle and why do I need to know how to make one?  Normally, a bead dangle is one or more beads held in place by jewelry wire, with a loop at one end so that the bead dangle can hang from that loop.  Bead dangles can be an important jewelry making component of earrings or necklaces.  Select here to view more pictures of a bead dangle.

A bead dangle is an important jewelry making component, frequently made using a jewelry finding called a head-pin.  A head-pin is a piece of metal with a "head" like the head of a pin on one end and a straight wire tail usually between 1 and 3" long.  Unlike a regular straight pin, the head pin is not sharp on the end opposite the "head", but ends in a flat or flush cut end.  The "head" of the head pin holds the beads in place, the wire tail of the head pin is used to make the loop on the opposite end.  You can view a selection of head pins here

Step 3 to Making A Bead Dangle Jewelry Making techniqueA bead dangle is made by sliding one or more beads onto the head pin.  With the head pin held vertically, with the head on the bottom and the wire tail point up, push the beads to the bottom against the head of the head pin and grasp the wire tail just above the beads with your chain nose or bent chain nose pliers.  Then bend the wire to an angle of about 80 degrees.  Now grasp the wire tail near this bend with your round nose pliers and make an eye loop in the wire.  Visit here to see how to make this loop and cut the wire.  Another approach to making this loop is to make a wrapped loop instead of a simple eye loop.  This is a more advanced technique and is described in detail in our online book on jewelry making called "Wire Design Basics". 

More detailed instructions with additional pictures on making a bead dangle can be found here.

Jewelry Making -- How to Make a Wire Figure 8 Connector

A figure 8 connector is a jewelry wire component in the shape of the number 8.  It is made of two loops oriented opposite one another.  Both of these loops can be opened and closed using the techniques that we discussed above.  The figure 8 connector is made by making a simple P loop, then with your round nose pliers gripping the wire tail next to this initial loop and making a second loop in the opposite direction.  For pictures and directions on how to make a figure 8, please select here

Figure 8 Connector Jewelry Wire Finding

Modified Figure 8 Connector Jewelry Making Technique
Figure 8 Connector Modified Figure 8

Using a figure 8 connector or jump ring is a way to connect two loops and change the orientation of the two components.  When directly connected two wire components tend to orient themselves at right angles to one another.  Using a figure 8 connector or jump ring will change this orientation so that the items will tend to be parallel to one another. 

There are some occasions where you will need to use a connector to connect two wire components but you don't want to change the orientation of the two components.  This can be done by a modified figure 8 connector.  This modified connector has a top loop that is perpendicular to the bottom loop.  Instructions for making this modified figure 8 connector can be found here.

Jewelry Making -- How to Make Simple Earrings

Our first jewelry making project is to make a simple pair of earrings.  Making simple earrings is as the name applies, simple.  If you can make a bead dangle and you can open and close loops, you can make these simple earrings.  The required jewelry supplies are two head pins, two or more beads, some jewelry wire, and a pair of ear wire findings. 

For those that are unfamiliar with findings, a finding is a metal component that is pre-made and sold as a complete component. A head pin is one type of finding.   Ear wire findings come as "French" style ear wires, post style ear wires, kidney shaped ear wires, ear clips and many more.  You can view several styles of ear wire findings here

Using the techniques discussed above, begin by making two bead dangles.  Then open the loop on your ear wire finding and add the loop in the bead dangle to the loop in the ear wire finding and close the loop in the ear wire finding.  Now you have a simple earring. 

Ear wire finding Bead Dangle Jewelry Making Technique


Jump Ring Jewelry Making Finding


Figure 8 Connector Jewelry Making Finding
Ear Wire Finding Bead Dangle Jump Ring Figure 8 Connector

Let's first modify the simple earring by adding a jump ring, or a simple circle of wire to connect the ear wire finding to the bead dangle.  You can open and close the jump ring to connect the two components.  Please note the orientation of the loop in the bead dangle and the loop in the ear wire finding.  They will be rotated 90 degrees to their original orientation. 

Finally, connect the ear wire finding to the bead dangle by a figure 8 connector and not that the orientation of the loop in the ear wire and the loop in the bead dangle are the same as when we directly connect the ear wire to the bead dangle.  Given that the orientation is the same, is there a reason for using a figure 8 connector?  The simple answer is yes, there are several reasons.  The figure 8 connector adds a hinge in the ear ring that allow the bead dangle to move in more directions that if directly connected.  The figure 8 connector also adds distance between the ear wire and the bead dangle. 

Complete this jewelry making project by making a pair of earrings using the same combination of bead dangle, ear wire, and connector (either none, a jump ring, or a figure 8 connector.)

Jewelry Making using a WigJig Jewelry Tool

In our web site we provide instructions for making jewelry with wire and beads, making jewelry with gemstones and findings, making jewelry by stringing beads, making jewelry by setting 1/2 drilled pearls into findings with glue, and several other techniques.  In the below paragraphs we try to provide information and links to get you started in one of these jewelry making techniques.  If you don't find the technique below that you want, please try the Learn area of our website by selecting here or send us an email

For someone trying to get started in making jewelry with wire and beads, there are four basic topics that must be addressed.  These topics are:

  1. What are the jewelry making tools that are required?
     
  2. What are the jewelry making supplies that must be available? 
     
  3. What jewelry making skills and techniques must be learned?
     
  4. Are there any kits that can help me get started?

In the following paragraphs we will address these topics in detail.  On this page we will try to provide a basic understanding of our perspective on making jewelry.  Spiral Diamond Necklace Jewelry Making Project

Let's begin by discussing what we mean by the phrase "making jewelry with wire and beads".  As in many endeavors there are many ways to make jewelry.  Making jewelry for some means adding a gemstone to a finding like a ring in a manner that permanently fixes the gemstone in place.  This is certainly making jewelry.  We discuss several approaches to making jewelry with gemstones or CZs and findings here.   We have kits for making jewelry with gemstones and jewelry making findings here.

Making jewelry for others means stringing beads on silk or synthetic thread using knots or on flexible wire with crimp beads.  These two techniques are certainly making jewelry.  We do discuss these bead stringing approaches here and here, but the techniques for making jewelry with knotted thread and beads will not be discussed in this beginner's section.   We do have a beginner's beadstringing kit with free step-by-step instructions that you can view here.  Pearl Beads Jewelry Making Kits

We also have instructions for making pearl beads jewelry by gluing 1/2 drilled pearl beads into jewelry making findings.  You can view our pearl beads kits here.

Pearl Ring Jewelry Making ProjectAnother way to make jewelry is to use processes that involve heat like casting or soldering components to make finished jewelry pieces.  We do not discuss these techniques in this web site.  There are other sources for information on how to make jewelry with soldering or casting. 

Now for what we do discuss in great detail -- we will discuss the tools, supplies and techniques necessary for making jewelry components out of beads and jewelry wire and how to connect these components together with no soldering required.  For some, this craft is called wire wrapping because instead of soldering wire Deluxe Duplex Bracelet Jewelry Making Projectcomponents, wire is wrapped around itself or other pieces of wire to form permanent pieces of jewelry.  To begin learning about this craft, please select one of the links below.

After reviewing these sections above, please continue to our Beginner's Jewelry Making Instructions.   We also have several kits for beginners to assist them in getting started with making jewelry.

 

 



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