Making a sequin necklace

A while ago I saw this tutorial on Pinterest for making a sequin bangle. I really liked the look of all those sequins stacked up together and thought I’d try making a necklace using the same technique! Here is what I made:

sequin necklace DIY

I’m not going to post a detailed how-to here since I used very basic jewellery making techniques to make my necklaces, but do let me know if you want one!

The original blog post used cup sequins strung onto wire and shaped into a bangle shape. I didn’t realise she used cup sequins until after I had bought a load of flat sequins! (very cheap from a shop in Sham Shui Po) Oops. I think that the cup sequins stack together better than the flat sequins, but I still like the look that I managed to achieve.

mint green and white sequin necklace

Another difference to the original tutorial is that I strung the sequins on flexible multi-strand beading wire, rather than standard wire, to allow the necklace to drape well. I started out by stringing the sequins one at a time (VERY slow!) but quickly got bored. I realised that a much quicker way was to stack a bunch of sequins between my forefinger and thumb and then roll them gently to line them all up so you can then just thread your wire through the middle.

I was originally thinking of putting a bead on each end of my sequin string, but then I thought that a spiral copper cone would be quite fun! I’ve not made one before but I’ve seen various tutorials that use a pencil tip to create the cone shape. I wasn’t sure whether to start my cone at the tip or the bottom but I found it easier to make the cone shape from the tip down, by using pliers to hold the end of the wire cone against the tip of the mechanical pencil I was using. I had a few goes, and used the best two on my necklace. I have to admit that it’s very difficult to make a nice even, tightly curled cone! It’s certainly made me realise how much work I’m going to have to put in if I want to be really good at wire work…

sequin necklace with copper wire cones

One thing to note is that the base of the cone is slightly angled because there is a wire sticking out, and this makes your cone angled against the sequins. Maybe you could trim the end of the wire on your cone at an angle to reduce this.

Also, your cone won’t naturally stay central because it has a big open end. To get around this you could either make the end of the cone slightly bigger than your sequins, so the cone fits over the end of your sequin string, or thread a small bead onto your beading wire before you thread the cone on so that the bead fits inside your cone (and is hidden). I did mine the second way, using a large seed bead.

I was really pleased with how the cones look on the necklace!

silver and copper stacked sequin necklace

Anyway, I was having so much fun that I made another sequin necklace! This time I strung my sequins onto a short, straight piece of 0.6mm (22ga) wire.

mini stack sequin necklace

Again, I wanted to do something with each end of the sequin stack. This time I made a little flat copper wire spiral, which was actually really easy to do. Just make a small loop with some round nose pliers, and then continue winding your wire around the loop, holding the spiral flat with pliers as you go.

sequin necklace with copper wire spiral

I finished off each end of the wire with a wire-wrapped loop, threading the loop through the end of a piece of chain before wrapping the wire round. Again, because the wire wrapped loop finishes with a piece of wire sticking out, it makes the end of the sequins slightly angled. You could trim the end of the wire at an angle to minimise this, although it would be quite fiddly.

I think I prefer the other necklace, but the little cylinder-type pendant is quite nice!

green and white sequin stack pendant

What do you think? Do you have a favourite? Do you like the look of the stacked sequins? Do let me know if you have a go at this yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Crafting New Year’s Resolutions

(I am very aware that New Year’s was quite a while ago, but Chinese New Year wasn’t so long ago so maybe I can use that as an excuse for this post?!)

A couple of years ago I saw a blog post (I can’t remember where unfortunately) where someone was saying that each year they make a resolution to learn a new craft. I thought this was such a good idea that last year I made my first craft resolution – to learn copperplate calligraphy. I bought a nib and penholder, and a book on how to write copperplate calligraphy… and that’s as far as it went. Oops.

So this year I have made another craft resolution, and I hope to actually stick to it! My resolution is to learn how to make wirework jewellery. I have an idea in my mind of a jewellery collection that I want to make but I don’t actually know how to make it yet!

I hope that by sharing my resolution with you all that it will force me to actually stick by it and learn. If I don’t post updates on my wirework practice every few months you have my permission to write rude comments telling me to get on with it ;)

There are so many great wirework jewellers out there, I am spoiled for inspiration! I don’t know how close I’ll get to achieving their level of skill but it does give me something to aim for!

Here are a few of my favourites:

de Cor’s (being able to make these earrings is one of my goals with this wirework resolution – they’re so beautiful!)

il_570xN.212582014

Lena Sinelnik Art

il_570xN.509757670_17wp

Nicole Hanna Jewelry

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Gailavira Jewelry

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I also made a treasury featuring more great wirework designs!

wirework treasury

Do you have a craft resolution this year? If not, why not make one? It’s always great to learn new things! Let me know what you learn this year!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Bead soup (part 1) – with DIY Accessories

Recently I was contacted by Zhen of the DIY Accessories blog who was interested in doing a bead soup. I’ve never done one before so I said yes and off we went!

The plan was to each put together 2 identical packets of beads – one you keep and one you send to the other person. After a set amount of time you each post what you have made and compare what each person has done with the same beads.

We’re starting with my packet of beads. I haven’t seen what Zhen has done with them yet but I can’t wait! This is what I sent (minus a few of the small pinky-orange beads as I realised I didn’t have enough to make 2 packets like this!):

Bead soup beads

As you can tell, I really like the combination of green and coral at the moment! I really made this into quite a challenge for myself as I’ve had the large snowflake obsidian (black and white), green and coral-coloured beads for a while but don’t know what to do with them! Most of my jewellery is a little more dainty.

I decided to start with the snowflake obsidian and use it as a focal point for a pendant. I very much like clusters of beads so I made a large wire ring and wound round the smaller beads to make a clustered hoop. I then hung one snowflake obsidian in the middle and put the pendant on a long chain. This is what it looked like:

Snowflake obsidian pendant

bead soup pendant

And hung over my pregnant bump:

large cluster bead pendant

As you can see, I added in some small pearls as I didn’t have enough small beads in the packet to fill the whole hoop (I hope that wasn’t against the rules!). I was quite pleased with the result – it’s not the sort of thing I would normally wear but I love the colour combination :)

I still had the large green and coral coloured beads left over so I decided to try my hand at a bit of wire work (something I’d love to get better at) and made this bracelet:

Green and coral wire bracelet

wirework bracelet

wire wrapped bracelet

green and coral wire wrapped bracelet

I used 20ga wire for the large shapes and 24ga wire to attach the beads. It was quite hard to get it all looking neat! As you can see, the shapes aren’t very even so there’s definitely a lot to work on there but I was quite happy with it as a first attempt at something like this.

I’ll keep you updated on when Zhen posts what she has made with the beads!

If anyone else would like to do a bead soup with me, I’d love to take part. Please just get in touch, either by commenting below or email me at littlekoojewellery@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

My top 6 wire jewellery making tips

I’ve been making wire jewellery for a couple of years now and I read books and articles online to try and improve all the time! Along the way I have picked up a few tips which I’ve found really useful (I’m afraid I can’t remember the original sources), and I hope you find them useful too.

Please note: this article assumes some knowledge of wire jewellery making. If you’re a complete beginner but you’d love to have a go, there are loads of great free tutorials available online to get you started. Search for ‘free jewellery making tutorials’ for a selection. I’d also recommend a book such as ‘The Encyclopedia of Wire Jewellery Techniques’ by Sara Withers if you want to take up jewellery making as a hobby.

Tip 1: When cutting wire with wire cutters, always hold the free end. You never know where it will go, for example in your eye! I’ve forgotten to do this a couple of times and the free end never fails to fly off somewhere. Luckily it hasn’t hit me yet!

Hold onto loose ends when cutting wire

Tip 2: When making wire wrapped loops, make the free end is at right angles to the wire you are wrapping around before you start wrapping it. This will ensure that your wraps are straight and tight together with no gaps between. Also, I use pliers when making the wraps, I find this enables me to get much tighter wraps than using my hands.

Keep wire at right angles - wire wrapped loops

Tip 3: When you have finished making a wire wrapped loop and have snipped off the excess wire, use the rounded notch in a crimping tool to bend the free end round so that it cannot snag on skin or clothes. This also makes it look very neat.

Tucking the end in - wire wrapped loops

Use crimp tool to bend in wire end

Wire wrapped loop

Tip 4: Run nylon-jawed pliers down your wire a few times before you use it. This will remove any kinks in the wire, work harden it a little and make sure it is nice and straight – ready for you to create some beautiful wire jewellery with!

Straightening wire with nylon jawed pliers

Tip 5: If you want to create two wire shapes the same size (for example, one for each of a pair of earrings), make them both at the same time either using wire that has been bent back on itself or two wires side-by-side. This will ensure that your pieces match exactly.

Tip 6: Don’t buy jump rings, make your own! Simply coil wire around a mandrel, or anything the right diameter – I use a skewer!

Coiling wire on a mandrel

Once the wire is coiled, remove from the mandrel (or whatever you used) and separate the rings slightly. Using wire cutters, snip the wire on the curved portion to start, and then snip the wire at the same position on the ring below. The finer the wire cutters you have, the easier this is. Most wire cutters have a flush side and an angled side – be sure to use the flush side. And make sure that your cut is always at right angles to the wire. This will give you neat ends that match well.

Cutting jump rings

Then turn your wire cutters round and snip a tiny bit off to make sure that the beginning of the next jump ring is flush too (watch out for that tiny piece of wire flying off!).

Make cuts on jump rings with the flush side of cutters

Use pliers to close and straighten each jump ring, ready for use.

Closing a jump ring

Hand made jump ring

So, those are my top tips! Do you have any of your own to add? Please share them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

How to make a wire button heart

Even though it is the beginning of February, I decided that I would make this wire button heart a while ago. So it’s not really a Valentines project, although it would make a sweet gift for your loved one!

Handmade wire button heart

I found this project on the Hobbycraft website here. I found it to be a bit more complicated than the tutorial suggests, so I’ve added some detail below. It took me well over 2 hours to make the heart, which included restarting at one point so it wasn’t the quick make that I thought it would be. I’ve tried to put what I learned into this tutorial so that you can do it a little more easily. I hope you find this useful!

For this project you will need:

  • Approximately 2m of wire. I used 0.6mm (22 gauge) silver plated craft wire. Check that two pieces of your wire fits into each hole of your buttons with plenty of space to spare.
  • 18 buttons (you can use more or less as you wish). The buttons I used were approximately 15mm diameter.
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Vice (if you have one – I don’t, but it would have been useful!)
  • Ribbon (I used 3/8″ wide grosgrain ribbon)

1. Lay out your buttons in a heart shape to see how big the heart will be and to pick the pattern of your buttons. Mine measured about 15cm across. I had 3 types of buttons so I just alternated them to get a nice pattern.

Lay out buttons in a heart shape

2. Cut two pieces of wire with your wire cutters, each approximately 1m long (you can adjust this, depending on how big your heart layout is compared to mine).

3. At one end, wind both wires together into a loop about 3cm from the ends of the wires and roughly wrap the free ends around the base of the loop. This is the loop that you will hang your ribbon on. Cut off the free ends with your wire cutters.

Double wire loop

4. Thread the wires through one hole of your first button from back to front (this should be the top centre one). Now thread the wires back through the second hole. This is the hardest part! Start by pulling the wires until you have large loops above the button:

Threading the button - wire loops

Before you start pulling any tighter you need to do two things: (1) make sure that the two wires aren’t tangled (I moved the wires around in the hole until they were running parallel), and (2) make sure the button is pushed back to the bottom of the wire wrapping/twist and put your finger on the wire going into the back of the button to stop it moving. I frequently found that the button had moved once I had pulled my wires tight. These are both very difficult to correct once you have pulled the wires tight.

Now pull one of the wires until it is tight across the button. Use pliers to grip the wire if it helps. Pull very slowly and gently and if you notice the wire kinking or twisting, immediately stop pulling and pull some wire back through the hole to smooth out your loop before slowly pulling tight again. Once you have one wire tight, repeat with the second one.

Threaded ribbons on wire

The first heart I made broke so I had to start again. This was because I was tugging and bending at a wire that had got all kinked up, and I was much too rough with it and the wire broke! This is why you must be very gentle and make sure that there are no kinks or twists in the wire when you are pulling it through. After that I made very good use of my nylon jawed pliers (my favourite jewellery tool!) to smooth out the wire at every opportunity, which definitely helped the second time I made the button heart.

5. Twist the wires together so that you have a twisted length of about 1-1.5cm (for me this was about 5-6 twists). The Hobbycraft tutorial does not say to twist the wires between the buttons but I chose to do it to make the heart stiffer, as the wire I was using is quite soft so I thought my heart would lose its shape really easily.

I found it easiest to twist the wire if the button was gently clamped whilst making the twists. I do not have a vice so I used a pair of pliers as shown in the picture. I held the pliers closed between my thighs so that I had both hands free for the twisting (I’ve not shared a photo of that – it looked very odd!). The hardest bit was to stop the long wires tangling while twisting. I had to stop twisting and untangle them every couple of twists.

Clamping and twisting wire

6. Thread the next button on and repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have used up all the buttons. This will take some time! Your work should look something like this:

Long string of buttons on wire

7. Now check that the buttons are all secure and not loose. If any of them are loose and rattle, just hold that button and the one next to it and make a full twist so that the twisted wire between the two buttons becomes tighter and holds the button in place.

8. Bend your string of buttons into a rough heart shape. I started by holding the button that will be at the bottom centre and bending the wire up either side. Then curve the sides in at the top until the two ends meet.

Rough heart shape

9. Bend the free end around the base of the wrapped wire loop…Connecting the two ends together

… and then wrap the wire around the other wire wrap (keeping it hidden behind the button). Trim the ends with your wire cutters.

10. Bend your heart into a more well-defined heart shape, thread a ribbon through the loop and hang somewhere in your home! Mine is hanging on the chest of drawers in our bedroom :)

Hanging wire button heart

Let me know if you make a wire button heart. I’d love to hear how you got on!

Update: mini wire button hearts are now available to buy in the Little Koo Etsy shop! Click here to check them out!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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