I recently organized a Tree Swap here on Craftster, with the theme of... trees!
My partner was the always-lovely Phizzychick. As soon as I knew she was my partner, I decided to make her this tree-inspired bracelet to fit her sense of style.
I teach a class on how to make this type of bracelet, and I'm going to give you simple directions too (see end of post)!
This bracelet has many different types of beads, including (but not limited to!) Swarovski crystals, glass, freshwater pearls in various shapes, sizes and colors, Swarovski pearls, jasper, pyrite, serpentine, nephrite, sterling silver and Indian silver. There may be some peridot in there; I don't remember at this point. I have a ton of beads (I work at a bead store) and I pulled from my stash for this bracelet. Among those beads, as you may see, there are also several different types of glass leaf-shaped beads.
All of the metal in this bracelet is sterling silver, and I made the headpins myself, out of 22 and 24 gauge wire.
And here's a shot Phizzy took while wearing it (I have a great camera but poor lighting; hers is much better):
And because someone in the gallery asked, here's how I made it. I don't have time for photos right now (I am scrambling to finish up a swap) but if anyone would like, I will try to find time to add some in a week or so!
First, I made the headpins. To do that, I took a butane kitchen torch (sometimes referred to as a creme brulee torch; can be found in Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and similar stores) and cut 2.5" pieces of 24 and 22 gauge sterling silver wire. It has to be sterling or fine silver if you want to make the headpins this way (silver-plated won't work!!). I held one end of each piece with my chain nose pliers (the wire will get hot!) and held the other end in the hottest part of the flame from the torch. This makes the wire ball up on the end. Don't hold it in too long or it'll bead up and break off, falling on the floor and scorching it.
Once I was satisfied with the size of the ball on the end of the headpin, I dropped it into a little cup of water to cool. After I had made 60-80 headpins, I gathered them all up and cleaned them with a silver cleaning solution. Then I rinsed them again with water (important!).
I sat down with the following supplies:
- 6 inches of small-link sterling silver chain (or length needed for wrist size MINUS about half an inch - the clasp will add this length)
- assortment of glass, gemstone and pearl beads
- my headpins
- a few Indian silver daisy spacer beads to use for beads with larger holes
- chain nose pliers
- round nose pliers
- wire cutters
- time, and lots of time
Now, it so happens that I teach wire-working classes and I can make a wire-wrapped loop in a few seconds. If you're just starting out, it's going to take a little bit of practice and a lot more time than it took me (about 2-3 hours for all of the beads, not including the hour I spent making and cleaning the headpins).
1. Take your bead and put it on your headpin.
2. Take your chain nose (flat nose) pliers and grab the wire RIGHT ABOVE the bead. There should be no room between the pliers and the bead.
3. Take the excess wire above the pliers and using your free hand, pull it down to make a 90-degree bend.
4. Removing the chain nose pliers, grab your round nose pliers.
5. On the HORIZONTAL piece of wire (the piece that you just pulled on to make that 90-degree bend), grab as close to the bend as possible. You do not want your pliers to be in that little gap between your bead and your bend; that is the vertical piece of wire. Horizontal is like this ---, vertical is like this |.
6. Pull that excess wire, with your spare hand, back OVER THE TOP JAW of your pliers. YES, you will be pulling it back in the direction from which you originally bent it to make that 90-degree bend. Pull it until it is pointing at the ground.
7. Either let some of the pressure off of your pliers and turn them, or take them OUT of the loop and then put the BOTTOM jaw back in. Remember, you just pulled that wire back over the TOP jaw, now you want the BOTTOM jaw in the loop.
8. Three words to remember here: Complete The Loop. Using your spare hand again, pull that excess wire around (yes, you will have to push it up and around the bead) until it is pointing straight out from you. DO NOT CONTINUE TO PULL IT UP TOWARDS THE CEILING.
9. Put the little piece of wire that is sticking out into one of the links of the piece of chain.
10. Holding the loop flat in between the jaws of your chain nose pliers, take the excess wire and wrap it in the gap between it and the bead. Wrap around and around to create a coil in that little gap. When you get to the bead, stop and snip off your excess wire with your wire cutters.
11. Lather, rinse, repeat. Again and again.
Space out similar beads so that you get a varied look. By that I mean if I want to use 6 champagne-colored coin pearls in the bracelet, I'm not going to put them all next to each other. I'll put one at each end and then space the remaining 4 out throughout the bracelet.
I put 2 beads per link, making it a very full bracelet. I did not skip any links. You can space it out as you see fit, but if you want a full bracelet like the one I sent Phizzy, put two beads per link and use beads of varying shapes and sizes. I also used different colored beads to give it a sort of forest-y look.
There are probably 20-30 different types of beads in that bracelet. I wanted something very eclectic and funky, to match Phizzy's personality. You can match your own however you see fit.
Attach your clasp, wear your bracelet, get lots of compliments, and GIVE ME CREDIT OR I WILL COME HUNT YOU DOWN AND STEAL IT FROM YOU...
Kidding. Don't give me credit. I didn't make up the design. Who knows who did.
If you have any other questions, please ask! I teach a class on this specific bracelet so I definitely have the steps down, but I also recently took a Percocet for a very nasty headache, so if I'm missing something I blame it on that.
Comments, constructive criticisms, and questions always welcome! Thank you for looking and have a super day.