Cool Custom Clasp Tutorial

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Start with 2 to 3 inches of 14 gauge wire.  I used copper here.   Trim ends flush

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Bend wire in the middle You might wait until this point to flush cut your ends so the wires are even.3

Make a loop on the end of each wire4

I like to use bail making pliers to do this.   You can spread the wires out to curl each end.

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Press the  wires closed.  I like to use flat nosed pliers for this and I must warn you that it takes practice to keep the wires even.  The less you have to touch them with the pliers, the less nicks you will have.  A trick: insert the bail forming pliers in the loops while you adjust the rest of the wire.  The make any adjustments needed  in the loops.5See the left of the picture: I have put a little bend in the end of the clasp.  
8Side view.  Notice how everything is even.  That’s what you want to strive for.

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Gently bend the wire over a mandrel.   Don’t try to get your finished shape in one try.  You can refine later.
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Here is a shape that’s more refined.  Notice how the loops sit back from the clasp.  Notice also how the wire in the top look is shorter than the bottom one.  It happens.  Try to get in there with the tip of your flush cutters and  clip the longer wire to the size of the shorter one.  Then close the rings right.  You don’t have to open the rings to do this.  In fact, you shouldn’t because then it will be harder to get them back into shape.

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Here is a finished clasp with jump rings

Clasps

And here are more clasps in different sizes and shapes.  

Wired and Inspired!

Photo by Sarah Sorlien

I taught a wire class at for first Greater Philadelphia Polymer Artists Meetup on March 15. I was actually substituting for Olivia Surratt, who developed the class, chose the tools and materials, and provided excellent handouts (illustrated by Trish Pfaff) for the students. I have learned a great deal about wire working from Olivia and also from Beading Yoda Jeri Schatz who introduced me to working with a torch and fine silver wire. But I have not taken any other classes and am basically self taught.  And I know that not everyone has access to good teachers or the time or money to invest in a class. So here are links to information and tutorials I have found helpful. Wig Jig University has hundreds of free wire tutorials.  This is the site I turned to when I became interested in working with wire.  Connie Fox is another person whose web site I turned to again and again when I first started. She does not do much wire work anymore, so the gallery on her web site does not have a lot of examples.  Fortunately, you can see several examples on Pinterest  here  and here.  Along with the wire skills tutorials on her  web site, you can check out her Garden Bangle Tutorial on Polymer Clay Central. Sharilyn Miller is another one of my favorites.  Check out her free tutorials here. Miller has made four DVDs that are well worth the investment. (I wrote about  the Ethnic Style DVD in an earlier post.).  The other titles in the series are Tribal Treasures,  Rings of Beauty and Bohemian Bangles.  Each DVD contains more than three hours of information.   You can purchase them here.  Be sure to check out her blog here. Wubbers, the people who keep designing new wireworking tools that you never knew you needed until you tried them, have set up Wubbers University.  You have to register for the site, but it is so full of free information that it’s totally worth it. Connie Fox, Sharilyn Miller and Olivia Surratt all studied with Lynne Merchant whose work is probably most responsible for the popularity of wire art jewelry today.  See examples of Merchant’s work here and here.   And watch this video of her demonstrating how to make a spiral.

Make Your Own Viking Knit Tool

To start Viking Knit the conventional way, one generally fashions a

Flower

Five or Six-leafed petal out of wire

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secures it to the top of a dowel, and then starts the weave from there.   I decided to try making a tool to make the process a little easier.  I am posting this because some people might find it helpful.

Screws

I took a wooden dowel about 3/4 inch thick and drew a six slice pie on the top with a Sharpie marker.  I continued those lines down the sides of the dowel mandrel using a ruler to draw them straight.  These are guide lines for the Viking Knit.

 

TopView

I used a rotary tool like a Dremel to drill pilot holes for small screws.  I screwed the screws into the mandrel by hand.  You have to go slowly because it’s easy to split the wood.  Don’t use a hammer.

Starting Loops

 

This picture shows how I loop the beginning wire off of which I will work the Viking Knit.  I have used a bit of tape to secure it.  You could also hold it in place with a band of wire under the screws.  Since this part will be cut off, it doesn’t matter what it looks like so long as you are comfortable with it and it works.

 

 

First Row

 

This  is the start of the weave.

 

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The lines help you to keep your rows straight.

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This is the single weave knit that I’ve removed from the dowel after cutting off the starting loops.  (This is 24 gauge copper wire)  I have another dowel the same size as the starter tool I made and I could slip the open weave onto that and keep weaving for a longer chain.  That would help me to keep a uniform shape.  There are those who would be able to do this without the dowel, but I am not one of them!

Length before Reduction

 

I made about 10 inches of weave and pulled it through the drawplate until it was about  18 inches long

Pliers

 

I recommend using wire drawing pliers because it makes the job so much easier.  They don’t have to be expensive.  

You could put end caps and  a clasp Viking Knit at this point.  Here’s a video that shows how to do that.

 

But you don’t have to be limited  to end caps and clasps.  Next week I will post on a new idea for designing and finishing single knit Viking Weave that I hope gets your creative juices flowing.

I’m Wired and Inspired

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I have a new project in the April-May Issue of Step By Step Wire Magazine! The African- inspired  Spiral Frenzy is an elegant-looking necklace that rests just above the collar-bone.  

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It’s made from units of spiraled wire that fit into one another.  Then you get to play with the butane torch and make the copper turn pretty colors!

The April-May Issue has lots of other great projects and articles.  Pick up a copy in your local bookstore or buy one here.

Want to make earrings to go with the necklace?  The instructions ( and loads of other great looking projects)  are in Easy Wire 2012.  You can order a copy  here.