Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A wirework tutorial- oldie but a goodie!

I originally published this tute on, but thought you guys might like to see it, and see how it's made! The tutorial may seem long and complicated, but once you have the hang of it, it goes PDQ!

This is a necklace that I made to showcase an art clay pendant made by Sharleen Newland, of Shaterra Clay Studio (or buy her work from her Etsy shop). This is a rather long necklace, 14” per side, not counting the pendant's length- probably going to remove a few links on each side, to shorten it up. If you want to make this in a shorter length, i.e., for a choker, just eliminate some of the spiral links, and use fewer between your hoop links- each link is roughly 1/2” long.

I was lucky enough to receive this pendant as part of a Totally Tutorials exchange, where you get free supplies, in exchange for creating a tute for the finished project, and posting it online. So, without further ado, here's how I did it!

1 Shaterra Clay Studios Pendant, approximately 1½" x 2”
18 gauge silver wire, 12' or so
20 gauge copper wire, a few inches
24 gauge copper wire, a foot or so
8 or more accent beads, ¼"  to 3/8” each
1 clasp (or make your own!)


Measuring tape or ruler
Ballpoint pen, or other small cylandrical item to use as a mandrel
Sharpie marker
2 sets of flat-jawed pliers (chain nosed or needle nosed, without teeth)
Round-nosed jewelry pliers
Wire cutter / flush cutter

Optional Tools (Not necessary, but they make the little things easier!)
Nylon-jawed pliers (for straightening wire)
Small metal or needle files
Bent-nosed pliers (for those tough-to-get-at angles)
Anvil or jeweler's block (metal surface for pounding metals)
Small chasing or ball peen hammer

To Begin: Gently unwind your 18 ga. silver wire from the spool, straightening as you go. Measure and mark off 3” segments of wire- cut 40 pieces, or less, if you wish. These will become your spiral links. Then, mark 8 sections of wire at 2 ½" each- these will become your beaded hoop links. Finally, mark and cut a 4” piece- this will be your center (heart) link. Make sure to keep your pieces separated by size, so that you can grab 'em without having to think about it- you'll find that making the links zips right along, if you're organized! If you're using a needle file, file the sharp edges off of the ends of your pieces- it's worth it to do this, if you don't want your finished piece to snag on your clothing.

To create your spiral links: grip one end of a 3” piece of wire with your round-nosed pliers, and create a loop approximately 1/4” across (outside diameter).

 Transfer the loop end of the wire to your chain-nosed pliers, and gently rotated it around, while adding wire to your spiral.

Do this in small increments, to keep that spiral nice and flat!

When you have around ½” of straight wire left, take your round-nosed pliers, and create a loop, in the opposite direction of the spiral, winding it back to meet the spiral. You should have a nice little spiral charm, with a hole through the middle.

Follow this same process with all of your other 3” pieces. Do you like to hammer stuff? (I do!) You can gently, VERY gently hammer the spirals at this time, if you'd like. But don't hammer the connecting loops- JUST the spirals!

Now you'll be doing your beaded hoops. Create a loop at each end of one of the 2 1/2" pieces, a little under 1/4".

 Straighten them, so that they're centered on the shaft of the wire.

Center your piece of wire on the barrel of your Sharpie marker, and gently bend your wire piece around the Sharpie.

Using a pair of chain-nosed pliers, bend the ends up and out, so that when your wire is fully rounded on the pen, the two loops will match up. You should be able to align them so that they look like hands folded, and you'll be able to sight a line right through them!

Grasp the two loops with your pliers, so that you're forming a nice, rounded hoop, and bringing your two loops together tightly.

At this point, if you'd like, you can hammer the bottom of your loop to give it a nice, finished look, and to make it stronger.

See how nice that looks?

Wrap the hoop, at the neck just below the two loops several times, with a bit of your 24 gauge copper wire. This can be done easily, straight off the spool.

Cut the ends closely, and bend inward as much as possible, or leave longer ends and tuck inside of your wraps. So now you have a cute little dealy that looks like this:

Then, cut a short bit (1 ½” to 2” in length) from the 24 gauge wire, and wrap 3-5 times around one side of your hoop.

Thread a bead or beads (I used tiny copper washers, and some 5mm glass beads on mine) onto the long end of your wire; then wrap the other end around the opposite side of your hoop, the same number of times as you did on the first side. (Tip: to make your central, beaded wire nice and tight, start your second wrap a little ways down from the horizontal center of your hoop- then, when you're finished, scootch the wraps upward, to center. Instantly taut wire!)

Tighten your wraps and adjust them, then cut your ends and tighten down the cut ends, so that they don't catch on things. 

Now we're going to make some copper D rings: find something that is a bit under ½” across, and roughly 1/8th of an inch deep, and wrap your 20 gauge wire around it, to form rectangular or oval loops. Slide them off of the object, and snip them off, about halfway across one of the long sides, creating rectangular or oval jumprings. Alternate method: grip your wire about halfway across the width of your chainnose pliers, and turn, making a 90 degree bend. Flip your pliers, and create another 90 degree bend, about 1/8th inch down from that, like so:

Then, bend the wire again, so that it crosses the original end. Keep shaping the wire this way, creating a rectangular-shaped tube of spiralled wire. Then, just snip off your new rectangular jump rings!

 You'll need a total of 16 of these. They will be used to connect the non-looped ends of the hoops to the spiral sections.

 Now, just as you would at any party, start making connections: grip one of the spirals with one pair of your pliers. Grip the little loop on the outside of the spiral with another pair. Turn your loop ¼ turn, to a 90 degree angle to the spiral.
Note which direction you have turned it; you're going to want to orient a total of 16 in this direction. You will want to orient another 16 in the opposite direction. You will need to leave a total of 8 of them un-turned; these will be connections with your hoops. Pick one of your un-turned spirals to start with- this is going to be the beginning (bottom) of one side of the necklace. Take one of your bent spirals, and open the loop on the outside, as you would a jump ring. Grip one of the spirals with one pair of your pliers. Grip the little loop on the outside of the spiral with another pair. Turn your loop ¼ turn, to a 90 degree angle to the spiral. Note which direction you have turned it; you're going to want to orient a total of 16 in this direction. You will want to orient another 16 in the opposite direction. You will need to leave a total of 8 of them un-turned; these will be connections with your hoops. Pick one of your un-turned spirals to start with- this is going to be the beginning (bottom) of one side of the necklace. Take one of your bent spirals, and open the loop on the outside, as you would a jump ring. Gently hook this around the spiralled part of  the flat spiral link, and hook it through the hole in the center:

Close the loop, connecting the two links.

Repeat, to create sections of spiral links, but always make sure that one end of your chain has a flat, unbent-looped link at the BOTTOM of the section, to connect to your hoops, except for at the very, very bottom end of both sides- this will be where you will be adding your central link, and those will require bent links.(For this necklace, I made graduated lengths of chain: the very bottom sections have 2 links, then a section of 3 links, another section of 3, then a section of 5 links, and the very top section, for behind the neck, has 7 links. To make sure that I was orienting the links in the chains in the right directions, I used a beading board, and laid out the sections, as I made them, but a towel or cloth would work just as well.)
Next, take your rectangular jump rings, and twist them open. Carefully thread two through a non-looped end of a spiral chain link:
Hook one of your hoop links through the jumps; close the jump rings.
Continue to connect your bits and pieces, until you have the two halves of your necklace. Make sure that your bottom two lengths of chain END WITH BENT LOOPS. This will be important!
It will look like this:

For the heart of the matter: take your 4” piece of wire, and start another spiral on one end, with your round-nosed pliers. As before, use your chain-nosed pliers to add to the spiral, once it's started. Start another, facing the first, on the other side. Keep them equal in size- you'll want the whole piece to be about 1” long, total.

Now, using your round-nosed pliers, grip the center of the piece, and bend it evenly, creating a heart shape.
If you wish to, gently hammer the corner of the heart, to strengthen it. Also, at this point, you can wrap a little section of each side of the heart with your 24 gauge wire, to help stabilize your pendant when wearing it (it will help to keep it centered, too).

Connect your heart to the bottom ends of your lengths of chain, using the same method that you used to connect your spiral links.

Now, have you been wondering about that ball-point pen, that was in the list of tools? Here's what it's for: this will be your mandrel for the three jump rings that you will be using to connect your pendant to the heart-piece. Wrap some of your 18 gauge wire around it, three full times, slip the spiral off, and snip evenly across, making three jump rings. These will need to be large enough around to fit through your pendant and the bottom corner of the heart, around 3/8ths of an inch. Hammer them to harden, if desired, and then open them, and connect your pendant with your heart (as if it wasn't, in some way, already!)

The finishing touches: add jump rings to the “top” ends of your chains, and attach either a purchased clasp, or make one, using your wires. If you make a double-thick hook clasp, wrap it in the 24 gauge copper, to tie it in to your chain's bicolor theme. A nice touch, also, is to add a dangle with an extra accent bead on  it, to the “loop” half of the clasp, and it makes it easier to find it, when you're trying to get your necklace on. (Sadly, I was unable to do this, as my beads had narrow little holes in them, and wouldn't fit on my silver wire!) Remove excess links, if it's too long, or add a few on each side, if it's not. Check over your connections, and tighten up anything that needs it. And you are DONE!

Sure hope you all enjoyed seeing this. Although this is an old one (2009), it's by no means the last tutorial you'll see on here- I'm thinking about sharing my method for a fun, stackable, and simple little sparkly
that I've made and worn for years, later this week- stay tuned!


  1. I made this today and it was both fun and challenging. I've never made these components before and it's great learning how they're created. Thanks so much for the lesson.

    1. Oh wow, that's great! Hope you find lots of other uses for the links- they make great standalone earrings, too!

  2. This is a beautiful necklace. Your text is concise and clear. Your photos are excellent, and are put in appropriate places in relation to the text. (Did you take the photos yourself?) I have written a fair number of tuts on other subjects and know just how much of a challenge it can be.
    Thank you for one of the best written tutorials I have seen in a while!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I did take all of the photos, with the world's wonkiest tripod (which for no reason I can explain, I refuse to throw out, LOL!) I try really hard to write tutes the way that those I admire most write theirs- clearly! Glad that I succeeded. Thank you so much for the compliments- you made my day! :D

  3. I would really like to know, can anyone get these materials and instructions for free just for agreeing to make the jewelry, and then actually creating the video tutorials? I am very much interested in doing both! You mentioned this tutorial of yours as being from 2009, so I am wondering; would you happen to know if this offer is still valid? Would you happen to know with whom I should contact? What a wondeful opportunity for me to use my interests in making jewelry, writing, demonstrating in photographs and/or video, and helping others along the way to do the things that bring such pleasure to me, to others, as well! Please let me know, as I am very serious about this interest! You did BEAUTIFUL work, yourself, in every phase of this, and has such potential for use in other ways, as other people have already demonstrated! Very lovely!

    1. Hi, Doodledaddy! Thank you for the compliments- just like you, the reason that I started a blog was to share the how-to aspect of crafting and cooking. Yes, indeedy, Totally Tutorials is still in action- go to and check 'em out! I've also added their button (!DUH! Don't know WHY I didn't do that before!)to the sidebar- it's a neat site. They even have a tutorial about how to make an effective tutorial, if you can believe it. If you don't have a blog (and I didn't, at the time this was originally published), you can post your tutorial on it's a great place to start making tutorials, and generally sharing the love with other makers n' crafters. Best wishes and much success to you!

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