Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When life hands you lemons, make a Super Cinchy Stick Necklace (and earrings)!

For the past couple of weeks, I've been attempting to create a neat-o lanyard and holder for my vape-stick. It hasn't worked very well. I'm getting the distinct impression that there aren't any wire ones out there because, well, they don't work. Wirework can be used to make lovely holders for a lot of things, but they tend to be permanent- a holder / holster needs to grippy, yet flexible, so that you can remove the ecig, charge the battery, etc. I have yet to come up with a practical, but attractive holder, and it's been frustrating. However, one of my (several) failed designs required a whole lot of double-headed eyepins. I had 48 left over, after the design didn't turn out. I was peeved that I'd put so much effort into something that didn't work. So what did I do with 'em all...?

Grabbed my hammer and flattened 'em! (Hammers were made for frustrations.)
And then I made this:

easy wire and bead necklace
Super Cinchy Stick Necklace

And these:

wire and bead earrings
Cinchy Stick Earrings

Here's how to make them for yourself. Intentionally and on purpose.

First, a word about the creative process. In a case like this, where I've suddenly got an overabundance of something, I stare at it for awhile. 

Then, I haul out my trusty bead board. It's a great tool for visualization, and they're cheap. If you've ever wondered whether it's worth it to get one, the answer is a definitive YES.

(I keep mine on an ancient foodservice tray. If you ever run across one of these babies at a thrift store or garage sale, grab it and don't let go.
They're tough, washable, incredihandy, and increasingly hard to find!)

From there, I fiddle around with placement. See the copper wire, through the bead on the right (below)? A scrap makes a great tool for positioning beads that won't sit up on their own- that way, you can get a feel for how everything will look without actually investing the time or wire to put them together for real. 

Being able to look at how the components were going to work together showed me that stringing the sticks all the same way was going to be prettier than alternating, and that alternating two bead shapes was going to be better than using just one bead type. This kind of trial run is invaluable, and can save a ton of heartache later on! (You can also do this on a towel, if you don't have a board.)

Now, on to the tutorial!

You will need:

For the necklace:
48 1" lengths of 20 gauge wire
48 beads, about 1/4" in length- I used two different shapes, but you can use any variety you like
Spool of 20 gauge wire- you will be making bead units right off of the spool

For the earrings:
2- 1" lengths of 20 gauge wire
2- 1 3/8" lengths of 20 gauge wire
4 beads
4 headpins
2 ear wires or posts with loops

Plus these:

You'll want a ruler, a good wire cutter, round nosed pliers, and at least two pairs of smooth-jawed pliers- I like having a pair of bent nose pliers on hand, too, for opening rings and eyes. A lightweight hammer and a bench block or anvil would also be handy.

We'll start with the sticks. Normally, I make a sharp bend in my wire, and curl up a loop to meet the bend. Not this time- since I used really soft wire, I just rolled loops and centered them after, which also gave the sticks a slight curvy feel. 

Grab your wire, and roll a loop up.
Center it on the wire, roughly, using your thumb and your round nose pliers.

Repeat on the other end, either opposite to the first, or in the same direction. Your call.
Now do it 47 more times!
You can, of course, opt for a shorter necklace...but these are so fast and easy, why not go for it?
Bonus: opera-length necklaces don't need clasps!

Since this was very soft wire, it was necessary to hammer the sticks. I did this gently, so as to work-harden the wire and flatten it some, but not smash it. You'll want to "feather" your blows on the pieces, for a nice, even surface, and a stronger link.

(Brag alert! See the orange mat thingy, under my anvil? Another thrifty find! It's actually a rubber base for t-ball or softball- that sucker's thick, and it mutes the hammering noise, plus protects floors and other surfaces from metalworking mishaps. Cost less than 25 cents- thanks, Youth Ranch Thrift Warehouse!)

Now that you've got your stick links, let's move on to the beads.

When I'm going to be making a whole lot of bead links, I like to string a bunch of them onto a spool of wire first, before I start making them. These beads were about 1/4"- I found that I could comfortably work with about a dozen at a time on the spool.

Pull up a bead, and make a simple loop, the same way that you did with the sticks- try for as small and tight of a loop as you can, and center it on the wire.

Bend your wire over hard to one side. Measure out what you'll need to make another loop- about 3/8" or so- and clip the wire from the spool.

Make your second loop, and then straighten and tidy up with two sets of smooth jawed pliers.

Do the same with all of the rest of your beads. Once that's done, it's time to make some connections!

Gently twist open a loop on a stick piece- not on bead units, only on the sticks. It's easy to correct any mishaps on the sticks; on the beads, not so much! Twist it sideways, like so:

side view, open eye

Don't try to unroll the loops, just twist them open, sideways.

It's just like opening a jump ring, and may be easier to do with two pairs of pliers.

Hook on a bead link, and twist the loop closed again.

You'll find that this is pretty satisfying stuff- the chain grows very quickly.

Repeat the process until you get to the end of your sticks and beads, and then shake your chain out, so that there are no tangles. Close the circle, and you've got your necklace! Mine came to nearly 50" total length, enough to easily double up.

The chain looks great doubled or tripled!

Are your hands worn out yet? No? 

Let's make some earrings, then!

Grab your four wire pieces and your round nose pliers. Just as you did with the necklace, bend loops into the ends of your wire pieces, centering them on the wires, and keeping the wire shanks relatively straight. Hammer the pieces to work-harden them. Then create bead links, using the head pins- thread a bead onto a head pin, quirk the pin shank over sideways, clip it, and make a simple loop. Attach them to the sticks, just as you did before.
Using two sets of pliers, open a jump ring, thread two of the sticks on, and attach to the earwire or post. Check how they hang, and reposition as needed.


And now you have a lovely set!

wire necklace
Super Cinchy Stick Set

Admire your work, and stretch your hands- they're tired now, huh? 

wirework necklace and earrings

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Despite the large number of components, this was quick and easy to put together- once you're on a roll, it's almost a meditative process. And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask, in the comments, or by email (it's up there in the sidebar). I love hearing from you guys!

While making this tutorial, I fiddled around and "discovered" a new shape that needs playing with- expect a new tute soon. Also a couple of book reviews, some paper projects, and other things that're burbling away on the back burner...the creative fires are burning.

In the meantime, as we head towards Independence Day, don't let the fires burn you-
be well, be safe, and be happy!


Linking up to Make It Wear It Thursday on the Train to Crazy, and Craft-O-Maniac Monday- happy Thursday, everybody!


  1. Love this! simple, and pretty....thanks for sharing it...and love your thrifty finds too!

    1. Thank you! I really debated, whether to post this one or not- I mean, it's really simple, and I kept feeling like maybe it was TOO simple...but sometimes it's good to go back to the basics. You've made me feel a lot better about that! :)

  2. This is great! Simple and puts to use some beads I have laying around, all sad, asking what are you gonna' do with us. Red white and blue from Independence Day. And Veterans Day will be here soon enough. This is just what I need. Thanks for posting it!

    1. Oh yeah, this kind of necklace just BEGS for variations! When you do it, feel free to email me and send pics- I'd love to feature other folks' versions on here!

  3. I like your style of designing, and your style of writing, too. And you have great photographs - close-up and clear. Thanks!

  4. I am working on this necklace right now. I can harden the links till in the morning but I am excited about making this. Thanks for the great tutorial. I will be sharing the link if its ok on my blog and posting my progress.

    1. Oh cool! Yes, absolutely, you can link up- if you'd like, you can grab a button, too (in the sidebar on the right of this page). BTW, checked out your blog- I like your version of the Anthro earrings a LOT better! Just added you to my "followed" Google+. Can't wait to see your take on it! :)


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