Friday, August 19, 2011

$10 Earring Class!

Just to make sure we're covering all the bases, I'll post here as well: Nomadic Notions has partnered with Groupon to offer our popular "Let's Make Earrings" class at half the regular price: only $10 for a $20 class!

Here's the specific link for the deal, which will only last 48 hours:

Don't miss out on this chance to start your new beading addiction!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Precious Pinwheel Tutorial

Here's a quick little project if you're looking for something simple. You'll need to know how to make a basic loop, and how to open jump rings -- that's it! You will also need the following materials:
  • 1 large base-metal ring (34mm, or 1.5” in diameter -- we sell them at the store)
  • 9 6mm bicone beads (preferably Swarovski crystals)
  • 2 6mm 18G jump rings
  • 9 4mm 18G jump rings
  • 2 pairs of bent-nose OR needle-nose pliers (flat on the inside) (Bent-nose are preferable for gripping jump rings)
  • 1 pair of cutters
  • 1 round-nose plier (cone-shaped arms)
  • Ear-wire, chain, bail, etc – depending on whether you're making earrings or a pendant (double the quantities if you're making earrings)
Using these materials, and following the step-by-step instructions in the 4-page handout (available to read/download by clicking here), you can make this:

Have fun!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Inspiration: Lapis & Copper Pyramid Earrings

I've seen this project in various wire books, and it's pretty simple to do -- the addition of the little semi-precious chips was my own idea. You'll need to know how to make a basic loop with wire to do this project, and it helps if you've used a jig before. You will need:

20 gauge copper wire (we're having a sale of the ColourCraft wire at the store: 30% off!)
Semi-precious chip beads (I used lapis lazuli for these)
22 gauge copper wire (for the chips)
Round-nose pliers (for making loops)
Needle-nose pliers (for everything else)
Cutters (for cutting wire)
Jig (optional)

You can do the wire loop-de-loos freehand, which is a little more challenging, or with a jig (we sell them for $20 -- 20% off with a class discount!). With the jig, you'll just line up a series of pegs in a row and loop your 20G wire around them. How many is up to you: on this example, the bottom row had 7 loops, and they ended up being about 3.75" long (real shoulder-dusters!).

I then prepared a bunch of little lapis chips, using 22G wire this time (slightly thinner to fit through the holes on the chips). I just made basic loops so it was easy to attach them to the loop-de-loos.

Once you've got your 2 sets of loop-de-loos, complete with dangling lapis chips, you'll just make little figure-8s (again, with the 20G wire) to connect them. Mine got a little bigger toward the bottom of the pyramid, to accommodate the lapis chips (see the side-view, below).

Then just attach ear-wires to the top, and voila! You have exotic, dangly, pyramid-style earrings, fit for an Egyptian queen!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let's Make Clasps!

Here's a new blog of the week: how to make clasps! That's right, using 20G wire (or thicker) you can make your own shepherd's hook clasp, and save money on store-bought findings! I've included a link to a .PDF at the end which you can print out -- it will show you 2 more clasp-patterns.

First, you want to start with some 20G (or thicker) wire -- cut about 6 inches. It's best to work-harden it first -- you do this by beating on the wire with a rawhide mallet. This will help stiffen the wire so it's less likely to bend out of shape. The rawhide mallet is soft enough, however, that it won't bend the wire out of shape (although it may leave occasional scuff-marks on craft wire, which is copper wire with a color coating -- the softest of wires). Sterling silver and gold-filled wire, however, should be tough enough to withstand any scuffing.

Once your wire is work-hardened, you'll want to grasp the very tip with your round-nose pliers -- so much so that you should not be able to feel the wire if you run your thumb across the arms of the pliers.

Gripping your pliers firmly, make a small loop at the end of the wire by rolling your pliers over, until the tip of the wire touches the stem of the wire. The end result is a small loop -- as small as you can make it, like the image below:

Once you have your teeny-tiny loop, you'll want to use the round-nose pliers to grip the wire below that loop (just barely -- too far below and your clasp won't be very effective), with the loop facing the opposite direction of where you're going to make this second bend.

Gripping firmly, again, roll your pliers over, but not all the way -- you're just putting another curve in your wire, to create a shepherd's hook. When you remove your round-nose pliers, the end result should look something like this:

Cut off the excess wire (as shown in the image above -- remember to always have the "flat" side of your cutters facing your work, to result in a nice, flush, even cut), though you'll want to leave enough room to make another loop.

Then, once again, you're going to grip the bottom end of the clasp, a the very very tip of the wire, just like you did at the beginning. You'll want this loop to face the opposite direction of the hook; in other words, if the hook is facing right, you want this little loop at the bottom to face left.

Gripping firmly with your pliers, again, roll them over, holding tightly to the tip of the wire, until the wires touch. You have just created your final loop, and the end result should look something like the image below:

You can squeeze the opening of the hook together to make the clasp more secure, and then all you have to do is pop it on the end of your piece of jewelry; you can use a large jump ring for the other end, or create a figure-8 (the "eye" for your hook-and-eye clasp) -- directions are included in the .PDF we've linked to. The handout also includes 2 other styles of clasps. Just download and print out the tutorial and you can become a clasp-making wizard!

Click here for the .PDF tutorial (you'll need Adobe Reader to view it). Enjoy!