Okay, here we go!
tutorial #1: how to make an open loop
open loops are great for a number of reasons. one, they're relatively easy to do, two, they can keep your work really close to what it's supposed to be attached to, and three, they are pretty easy to add on to other things, by virtue of it being an 'open' (rather that a 'closed') loop.
here's an example of a time when open loops would be preferable to closed loops: there was already a lot of wire-work going on in these earrings, so i wanted to keep the loop simple and clean, and not fuss about with the findings:
i should say, though, that one of the disadvantages to open loops is that they aren't as strong as a closed loop.
here are the materials you'll need (for pretty much any jewelry project)
left to right, flat-nosed pliers, round-nose pliers, and flush cutters. you can usually find all three in a set for $8 at wal-mart or the carfting stores. wal-mart tends to be the cheapest though, and they work just fine.
your flat-nosed pliers are named as such because they are flat where they meet in the middle, and don't have any ridges like normal needle-nosed pliers do, although needlenose pliers will work in a pinch, they're not as clean working as the jewelry pliers.
round-nosed pliers are essential to shaping your wire: their shape allows you to maintain a nice curve for your pieces:
and flush cutters: look for a pair that has no ridge down the back, and are completely flat like the ones below. this allows you to get in real close to your work, for the most accurate snipping!
you also need head pins (use ones specifically for jewelry - sewing pins are too tough and designed somewhat not to bend!) and of course beads of your choice.
thread your bead onto the head pin and grasp them with the flat nosed pliers. leave a hairs-breadth of space between the pliers and your bead.using the pliers,
bend the pin out twoards the side, as far as the pliers will comfortably allow. be sure you're not using our fingers to bend the wire over
the pliers - you actually want the bend as close to the bead as possible.
switch out the flat-nosed pliers with the round-nosed pliers, staying about 1/8"-3/16" from the tip of the pliers. the further down the pliers you go, the larger your loop will be.
with your fingers, bend the pin most of the way around the pliers
switch the round nose pliers so the pliers are out of the way for you when you complete your loop (i know that sounds a bit confusing - hopefully the pic will help).
complete your loop, pulling the wire around with your fingers
position your flush cutters around the tail of the pin so that the back of the pliers butts up against your loop - the idea is to get the cut as close as possible to the starting point of your loop
and snip! now you're ready to add your bead to earrings, chain, or whatever!
to add your bead to your project, the first thing you'll want to to is gently bend the opening out to allow something to slip inside. flat-nosed pliers are ideal for this step - they don't slip as much as the round-nosed.
thread your bead onto your project. for this tutorial, i just used a giant jump ring
re-close your loop with your flat-nosed pliers
and there you are! done!
coming next, closed loops!