Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nylon Jaw Pliers

A handy tool for working with wire, one which sometimes isn't used as much as it could be. I have seen people recommend having a pair of these for straightening wire, a good reason for a pair on its own. However this tool is far from a one trick pony (to use an Alton Brown term). I have used them to shape wire in more ways than simply making it straight. I've done some shaping with my nylon pliers that I've done before with my chain nosed ones, with the added benefit of having the nylon to protect the wire. This means less scratching.

If you look at the close up of the "jaws" of this tool, you can see that the nylon comes to a nice right angle on the sides. Very useful in making a square shape out of wire. Simply hold the wire in the jaws and bend over the side. I have also done spirals with wire using this tool. Round nose pliers are still needed to get the initial curve to start the spiral, but once that is in place, the wire can be held with the nylon jaw pliers while bending it into a spiral shape. has a handy tutorial on making spirals out of wire, simply replace the chain nose pliers with nylon jaw ones. Depending on the wire, the first turn or two might still need the chain nose. If the start of the coil slips out of the nylon then work with the chain nose for that turn and try again with the nylon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sometimes kits can be fun

With beading growing in popularity finding supplies is easy. Be it online or in a local craft store, beads, findings, and even kits come in a wide variety of selections. Yes kits. Kits are great ways to try something new. Depending on where you shop, you'll get directions, and all the materials needed to make a finished piece. Some kits may not include stringing material, so double check. Also see what tools are needed before you are home and ready to craft.

A few weeks ago I picked up a kit on a whim at my local bead store. Glass Garden Beads is the company that created the kit, it's their fairy kit, the pink one to be precise. They had everything I needed in the kit to make the fairy, I only needed to use tools I already had at home. They even had enough of the craft wire for the "spine" of the fairy so that when I goofed on the wrapped loop at the top I was able to pull that piece out and start over. (The arms and legs were on head-pins, so luckily I didn't have to re-string the beads for them).

As far as tools went, I used my round nose pliers, wire cutters, and my chain nose pliers helped with the wrapped loop at the top. For someone just starting out, the round nose and cutters would have been fine.

Artbeads the website I like to buy online from, does have a tutorial on wrapped loops. For those lacking chain nose pliers, that first step can be skipped. The loop can be made without the 90 degree bend, it just doesn't look quite as neat. (And I think the bend helps more with a simple loop anyways then a wrapped).

Round nose pliers - These look like two cones on the end of a pair of pliers, handy for curving wire
Chain nose pliers - These look like needle nose pliers, only they lack the "teeth", leaving a flat surface inside the pliers jaws. While they are much less likely to scratch your findings then needle nose, they still can scratch. I have two pairs of these pliers, which makes opening and closing jump rings easy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Focus on: The Focal Bead

Do you have an odd bead laying around that doesn't have anymore like it left? Or do you have your eye on an expensive style of beads that would be to costly to string a necklace out of?

Welcome to the focal bead. A focal bead can be a useful design element in situations like the ones mentioned, or simply for a fun design. The trick is to have this single bead work with the other beads for the necklace you are designing. The focal bead can contrast the main colors, and have an accent color matching, or colors from the focal bead can be more predominate through the rest of the piece. Materials and shapes are something to keep in mind as well, in addition to color.

This is a necklace I made a little while ago (and haven't gotten a chance to take a nice photograph yet), where the focal bead is mostly blue. I stuck with blue for the rest of the necklace. The yellow from the focal bead isn't carried like the blue, which gives the focal bead something to make it pop a bit.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yet another Blogg

Yes, blogger makes it way to easy to create blogs, hopefully this won't be yet another spur of the moment blog which will be neglected later. And I was tempted to name it "Yet another beader", but beader looks misspelled, so I changed it to bead. Which still sounds fun.

As to the point of this blog, it'll be for posting about my bead work, and bead work/jewelry stuff in general a bit. I'll probably post pictures, but I plan on having posts discussing various projects I'm working on and such.