Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Make A Necklace From Steel Wire

Hi everyone! I have such a great time making these steel necklaces, I thought I'd share with you all just how I do it. It's no big secret or great technique. It's just fun and I wanted to share my process with you all. So here goes!

First Things First

Here is a list of the tools you will need:

1. 16 gauge steel wire from the hardware store. It's sometimes called "mechanic's wire" or "anchor wire". You can find it in the ropes and chains aisle.
2. A really good heavy duty pair of wire cutters. Do NOT use your fine jewelry wire cutters on this stuff. It will chew them up and spit them out!
3. Small steel block or anvil for hammering the wire.
4. Folded towel or rag to cushion the anvil. This cuts down considerably on the noise, and also helps keep the anvil from sliding around or from damaging your work surface.
5. A pair of earplugs. Believe me, you really should use these! You don't want to damage your ears with the noise of impact while you're creating something beautiful.
6. Good jewelry hammer. If you only have a household hammer that's fine. The jewelry hammers are very smooth and will not leave scratches and marks on your surfaces. But this style of work is very rough and I'm sure any good heavy hammer will do just fine. Those marks could add to the character of the piece.
7. Two sanding blocks. These are for cleaning the wire. They are foam blocks coated with sandpaper, also available at your local hardware store in the paint section.
8. Mandrel for winding wire into shapes. This can be just about anything, from wooden dowels, small bottles, handles of all kinds of things. For this necklace I use my case for my reading glasses!

Now that you have all your tools, it's a good idea to make a nice clean work area for yourself.

Let's get started!!

Step One - Cleaning the wire

Uncoil about 2-1/2 feet of wire. Place the wire between your two sanding blocks and holding them firmly with one hand, pull the wire through the blocks several times. This cleans the surface and leaves a nice dull sheen that looks like pewter.

Step Two - Winding the wire

Start winding the wire around your mandrel. Wind it all the way to the end and make the ends as flat as you can against your mandrel. Slide the coil off the mandrel.

Step Three - cutting the links

Stretch out the coil slightly so that you can get your wire cutters in between each wire to cut the links. I like to make my cut in the middle of the longer side of the oval. Cut your links one at a time.

Step Four - Finishing the ends

If you have a flush cutter then you will have one end of each link that has a nice flat cut, and the other will have a triangular point. With your flush cutters, cut the pointed end off, holding your cutter facing away from the long part of the wire, as shown below. If you don't have a flush cutter you can file the tips of the cut wire smooth.

Step Five - Hammering the links

Time to put in your earplugs! Take a link in one hand, holding it carefully so you don't pound your fingers. Start hammering the link with the flat surface of the hammer as flat against the wire as you can. Pound it just until it has flattened a bit and has a shiny sheen. You don't want to pound it too thin as that will weaken the wire.

Step Six - Making the clasp

Now all that's left is the make the clasp and assemble the necklace.
Cut a piece of wire about 6 inches long. Make a small loop at one end with round pliers, closing the loop completely.

Now make a second loop in the opposite direction, forming a lopsided "S". I use my trusty wooden dowel for this loop. Don't close the second loop.

Hammer the clasp flat, the same way you did the links. Then connect the clasp to the links, and the links to the links.

If you want to add a charm, now's the time!

And there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed this project. If you have any questions of comments, please feel free to post them!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Treasures!

Ooh, look at what I found this weekend in one of my favorite antique shops!! Skeleton keys, escutcheons, door hardware, an iron vice, lovely cabinet photo, nice big "frog" to put my pens/pencils in, and a handful of lovely chandelier crystals!!
Then I went to Black Market Minerals and picked up some nice beads. The dark pearls are a gift from a dear friend.
I have so many ideas swimming around in my head. Now all I have to do is corral them and start making them a reality!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fun With Steel

I love working with steel wire. It has a wonderfully natural look and feel. My favorite pieces are made with steel wire. And there is an additional perk in using steel - it's magnetic! It makes cleanup a breeze! All those little tips and bits just jump off the table when I sweep over it with my magnet! Then I have one of those "desk sculptures" to play with. Sweet!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time and Faith

In the bitter cold of the deep darkness that can descend upon a human soul, two things remain with us always. Time and faith.

Time, the malevolent constant, always measuring our suffering in painful slowness, every moment we inquire of it, "is this the last of you?". Or it is rushing us through our joys in its relentless passage, refusing to acknowledge our need to stay.

Faith, whether we know it already, or hope to know it, is the belief that there is indeed something greater than our finite existence. It is not the faith that can save us. It is the object of our faith that may or may not have the power to lift us out of darkness. If the object of our faith refuses to bring us into the light, then we need to search for something better, for something real, for something alive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Here is my latest creation. I call it Rhapsody, which the dictionary defines as, "a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Celebrating The Small Things

My First Pine Cone!
Well it's my pine tree's first pine cone but I'm the one who is excited! I was mowing the lawn and this lovely pine cone almost decked me!
I planted four pine trees about 15 years ago. I can't remember what type they are. I love gardens and plants and trees but I'm not much good at remembering the names. They have been through a lot.
Two years ago the neighbor's huge old walnut tree fell right on top them! It broke the top third off one of them and stripped all the branches off the south side of another. So I think this pine cone is pretty special. This tree is a survivor!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beautiful Earth Wire and Clay Earrings

When you are experiencing a lull in your creativity, what better way to wake it up than to go shopping and buy some new jewelry fixin’s! I found these beautiful earthy beads at Hobby Lobby. They look like earth to me, with all its rich and beautiful colors. So after almost an entire week of creating nothing, last night I finally felt the creative flow returning. I got out my new tools and my favorite annealed steel wire and went to work.