Wire & bead jewelry making technique | Kristin Hanson | Skillshare

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Wire & bead jewelry making technique

teacher avatar Kristin Hanson, Learn the art of jewelry design

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. INTRO

    • 2. TOOLS

    • 3. EARRINGS

    • 4. NECKLACE

    • 5. BRACELET

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About This Class

In this beginner jewelry making class you are going to learn how to design three different pieces using one simple technique. This wire work can be used to design an entire collection, by mastering this simple link you can design a number of styles and explore movement and chain links in your jewelry. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Kristin Hanson

Learn the art of jewelry design


Hello, I'm Kristin and this is my story... 

For acclaimed jewelry designer Kristin Hanson artistic inspiration has no limit. Growing up in a family of artists, Kristin’s creative aspirations were nurtured from an early age. The beauty she found from exploring the vast possibilities of contemporary design led. Kristin to pursue a unique career of jewelry design.

Her studies began under the private guidance of master goldsmith Harold O’Connor and later at a small contemporary jewelry school outside of Florence, Italy. Upon her return to the United States, Kristin worked directly with master diamond setters and jewelers in the famed NYC Diamond District.

For nearly two decades Kristin has worked to refine her craft of preserving classical Euro... See full profile

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1. INTRO: Hi, I'm Kristin Hanson. Welcome to IJEWL. I'm excited to be here and share my story with you. I've been designing jewelry for over 25 years and spent six of those years classically training in Europe and the US. Since then, I owned one of the largest jewelry schools in the country, teaching over 8 thousand students from around the world, many of which are running successful businesses today. I'm excited with these new affordable platforms to teach all this knowledge right here from your own home. Each week we're going to learn a different technique that will advance your jewelry skills. With this step, you can begin to design your collection. Whether you're an advanced jeweler or beginner, there's something here at IJEWL for you. Let's begin. 2. TOOLS: To make these beautiful dangling movable earrings, which can also be a bracelet, necklace or anything you like. We're going to use these basic tools. We have a very thin round nose supplier. It's round on both sides. And I'm going to use my caliper to show you the thickness. The caliper is simple tool used for every jewelry project that you make. It gauges in millimeters, you want to set it to 0. This plier at the very tip measures one millimeter, which is pretty small and this is what you're going to need. I also have a wire snip which is a cutter. These ones are very good and a bent nose, thin, small plier for closing our jump rings. You can also use a straight nose plier if that's what you have. In order to make this design, we are using sterling silver hard wire. The reason you're going to use hard is so that we don't have to wrap and wrap the metal to close it. It is hard enough to close itself. And I'm going to use the caliper to show you that it is 0.47 or 0.50 millimeters thick. Hard silver wire. With that said, let's get started. 3. EARRINGS: We're going to start with the round nose pliers and using the very tip of the plier, you're going to grab, I have a short piece of wire because it's much easier to use about a foot long. And I'm going to grab the very tip of the wire and bend it around in a small loop. You're going to see that the loop is lop-sided to one side. So you can go back in and just tweak by moving your wrist a little bit over and you'll see that there's an opening but it's on straight. This is a straight circle. I'm gonna string my bead. I'm using these green oval, natural stone beads round. You can add as many beads here as you like, or one on one will give you this really beautiful movement. Now I'm going to take the small round plier again and go very close to the stone. I don't want baggy movement here. And I'm going to wrap the wire around the plier. Using the plier and pulling tight is gonna be a really important part of this technique. Now I'm gonna take my wire cutters and cut very close to the bead. Just snip right there and you're going to see that it's open here. And I can straighten it out and use my flat nose supplier to close that jump ring. Tapper it with a small one, don't want to squeeze too hard and nick your metal. But you just want to squeeze a little bit and close it up, tighten it up and straight. Do any straightening. Now, there you have it. Our first little link to our chain. Second link, we're going to start. Sometimes you can also put the bead on first, which I like to do. Then you're gonna make your first hook on. Again, straighten it out so that it's straight and has an opening and everything is aligned and small. We want to make everything the same thickness of the loop. I'm gonna string my first link and I'm going to close it. Generally. Just close it. So no wrapping going on here. We have our first little beautiful link going to now take the plier, go very tight to the bottom of the bead and wrap the wire around, pull it tight. Make sure it's aligned and small everything the same size. Snip. Close the jump ring, and go to the third link. Here we go again. You can also use gold filled wire if you like. This is an affordable way to get a great bold book. I'm going to make my loop. Go back in there, straighten it out, hook it on, close it, and then I'll put the bead on the other side. The nice thing about this technique is you can just zone out and once you get it, you can start thinking about the next thing you're gonna make because this will take, you'll get quicker, which is the fun part. And next thing you know, you'll have a whole collection of jewelry with this simple chain technique. Here we go. So I'm going to measure it and count out. These are gonna be a long earring. Here we go. Just keep going until you have two equal length pieces. Now when you have your chain link, this is three inches long, which I think is very stylish. I'm going to add a larger bead on the bottom and my ear hook to the top. So this is the finishing part of the earring. I'm going to use these stones to add a little bit of weight and dimension to the bottom. Also the colors beautiful, Its amazonite gemstone. I am going to use two of those. And I'm also going to mix in a little bit of pink opal. Add a little pop of color. You can layer it and line everything up and check out your design before stringing it. Now I'm going to go ahead and make this cluster out of the same technique. But here we have the bottom which we don't need such a big loop. We're gonna make a very tiny more of a crimp than a loop at the bottom. And I'm gonna use my flat nose pliers. I'm going to grab the end of the wire and just bend it in half. This is not our jump ring. It is more of a crimp and it's closed. So instead of having a ball at the bottom, which we'll learn how to do later on in the course. We're just going to have this little bend in it and that will stop the small bead from going off without having a jump ring there. I'm going to string these beads. I'm gonna put the bigger one lower and then taper it with the small one. And now we have a cluster. So then there's no hole at the bottom and it's just closed. Same technique and I'm going to wrap and make my jump ring. Cut it, link it to my chain. The bottom here. Close the jump ring. Because you're not wire wrapping and going around each one over and over. You have a very neat and professional looking design that is going to be gorgeous on. Now let's put on our ear hook. So I'm just going to open the top one a little bit. My plier, and I'm gonna put on the ear hook here. There you have it. Gorgeous, stylish, natural gemstone, sterling silver earring for your collection. Thanks so much for joining me in this class making these beautiful gemstones, sterling silver shoulder duster earrings. You can use this technique, making any of your designs with any bead using the sterling silver hard wire, your basic tools. This is a great technique for making chains, necklaces, bracelets, and any length earring. Next time we're going to learn to advance this technique by adding some unique stones and add some more materials to take this to the next level. 4. NECKLACE: The first step in creating this stylish necklace is we have to measure out our chain to the right length. So I'm going to, you can obviously change the length and redesign it however you like. But I'm going to use the ruler and measure four inches between my beads. This will give me about nine beads. I'm going to use the ruler and my wire cutters. And I'm going to measure four inches and snip. I'm gonna go ahead and do that to all the wires. So that part is done. Four inches, snip. Once you have all your pieces ready to go, then we'll set up the beads. The fun thing about this technique is you can redesign it however you like and modify it by creating a collection. When I'm designing a collection, I like to have at least 12 pieces that all go together and make a story. Today we made our earring. This is the necklace that can go with that collection. I'm going to line up all of my pieces. Four inches. Now we're ready to get going with the beads. I'm going to use a round faceted turquoise bead to make this design. I'm going to use yellow gold hard-wire. This is gold filled wire. It's not expensive. You can get a large spool of it. But I personally like the contrast between the silver, the jumps with color and the gold. This creates a little bit of dimension. And a mixed metal. look, is always fun. This is a longer piece of wire. So if you'd like to work with a smaller piece, you can cut it about a foot. And this way you're not dealing with that big spool. We can put this one away. Gonna go with my first piece of chain. The first bead. Just like in the last video, we're going to use the thin round nose plier get the very tip of the wire and bend around to make a circle. And remember, it's going to be crooked. You have to do that extra step to straighten out each of your jump rings. Now I'm going to connect my first piece of chain. this needs to be open alittle a more. Leave enough of an opening to get your chain through. Then close your chain with the flat nose supplier, not squeezing too hard, but close it completely and give it a little bit of a squeeze, just to hardened the metal a little bit. Now I'm going to string my first bead. Now you can add 2 or three beads, whatever you like. There's no rules here just to have fun and designing with freedom. Going to bend around, keep it close to the bead and pull it tight. And now we're going to snip the other side of the jump ring here. Here's the flat nose pliers to round it out. And before you close it, we're going to attach the other chain. Now we have chain attached to both sides of the bead. The jump rings are nice and small and they really blend in with the chain. You don't want big chunky jump rings. For fine jewelry. You want elegant small jump rings on everything and everything to be even. But I love that tiny hint of gold that this wire creates. Here we go to the next one. I'm going to use the tip of my plier and bend the circle around, straightening it out, and then add it to the last chain. Close with plier. String bead. Hold it very close to the bead. Squeezing lightly and bending around with a tight pull. Close. Open a little and add your next chain. Grab it and close. Perfect. Keep going and go as long as you like. This technique can take you a lot of places. When you're done with your necklace, you're going to have a beautifully spaced out chain link with your turquoise or any stone you like. This is beautiful with pearls. I prefer natural gems, but anything you like in this style, we didn't do it even we went asymmetrical, which is just another way to do things in the way you do it. It's a great piece. You can also take this design another way and where it as a lariat. So you can double it up and add a class to it here. If you have a ring or a clasp, you can always add it here and change the look of the piece. For example, if I took it in two separate places, bends it around. add a clasp. You have a completely different look necklace. And it's the same technique. That would be two separate necklaces in your collection. All you have to do is add a jump ring to the two ends and a clasp. We'll do that now. Another technique of taking your long 30-inch chain into another style is to stretch it out in one length. And I'm going to pinch it a little bit one inch inside of the line. There's two lines here and I'm going to pinch it one inch inside the line and pick it up. Now you can see that the chain has two lengths and it's a double link chain. You want to make sure the inside is 16 inches. And you can measure that by pulling the two, pinching, straightening it out. Like this. Grab your ruler from the tip, which you'll add the class here to the bottom. Here we go. We're just about eight inches. It could be a little longer. So we're just going to drag it down a little bit and move that up. 16 inches is a standard short necklace. Now we're about right. I'm gonna take the two top pinches and we're going to add the clasp to one side and the jump ring to the other. Your chain links should have enough room to hook on the class, which is an open jump ring. And hook that onto one of the links. If you're chain is too small, you can add an additional jump ring or go with a bigger chain, but it's better if it's locked in. Now I'm going to close this with my plier. This is all sterling silver. Close the clasp on one side. Now, for the other side, I have to attach this to another jump ring. But my jump ring is a little too thick to go through the chain. So don't lose your spot of 16 inches. I'm going to go ahead and grab my silver wire. And I'm gonna teach you how to make a little jump ring for the end of this necklace. Now we have the round nose player, but I'm not going to use the one millimeter tip. I'm going to use a little bit more in the middle. So the jump ring is larger. And I'm going to grab the wire and turn it around the plier. I can go in again and keep going because you want it to be round. And if you keep going, you're gonna make a nice little spiral, which will be perfect jump rings. For anything. Take your wire cutters, go in and starting at the end. Now we have our jump ring. I'm going to pick it up with the flat nose pliers and you can open and close it with your finger or another plier by grabbing both ends and going back and forth like this. Now I'm going to take the other end of my chain and I'm going to loop it through a link, which hopefully will go through. Otherwise, you can use a thinner wire, this is a pretty thin chain. I'm gonna go ahead and loop it through and I'm going to close it with the jump ring. Pliers go back and forth a little bit. So it creates a little tension and make sure all the points are closed. Now I can put my clasp. I have another jump ring here. I have an additional jump ring here. So I'm going to open it and put that through. Now. And it's all connected. So now we made two styles of necklaces with one long 30-inch chain. Again, that you can make it longer or shorter, whatever you like. You just made two styles of necklace with one technique. The nice thing about the asymmetry is it creates a little bit of looseness and casualness to the piece. Or the symmetry also has a beautiful look. Depending on the stones you use, the pieces look different. This is using a natural nugget shaped bead of amethyst. These are great healing energy piece and really fun to make. Thank you for joining me in today's necklace Making class. Today we made two versions of a simple necklace using sterling silver chain and gemstone beads. This is the long necklace which is great for putting right over your head. And then we folded it and added a clasp for the shorter version, which is a two layer necklace, delicate, elegant, and looks great with everything. Thanks so much. See you next time. 5. BRACELET: Here we're going to make this really cool chain mail bracelet that goes on your ring up, on your finger up your hand, around your wrist. You're going to need your sterling silver chain, wire and your tools. First what we're going to do is, we have to measure your wrist. Standard wrist is six inches. Larger, would be seven inches. So you can see what your wrist is, the length of your hand, and the measurement of your finger. But for general purposes, we're going to estimate and we're going to go from there. I have my chain. But first I'm going to have a clasp on the end of my chain, which you're connecting a jump ring to the chain, with your clasp, once that's on, you know the length of your bracelet from there. I'm going to use the example to measure. But the first part of the bracelet is going to be your wrist. And using the tool I'm going to measure that's just about seven inches, which is a standard link. If you have a smaller wrist, you could do six inches. But seven inches is standard. So I'm going to go ahead and measure seven inches width the class but included. I'm going to cut it a little before seven inches because I was small wrist. Now we have our bracelet part. fold this in half, now I have the clasp, jump ring will go there. We can do that later. Now we know that this is the beginning of the hand element that will go over your hand. Now, as you can see in the example, I put beads throughout this piece, which I think is fun and you can design it however you want. For in this example, we're going to do a bead right at the connection points between the finger and the wrist. We're going to add that here. You can add additional ones. I really like them on the hand, on the wrist. You can add as many beads as you want. But let's get started. Between the finger and the wrist. We have to measure, use your tool and estimate. Your wrist is going to be about here, so it'll probably be about 4.5 inches or so. Let's measure on my example. This is smaller. So again, we're about 3.5 inches. You need to bend, but it may be actually shorter than we think. So 3.5 inches. For the hand element. We're gonna go from the tip to here. And I'm going to cut the wire at 3.5 inches. We're going to get all our pieces prepared and then we'll connect everything later. For the ring, everybody's ring fingers are different. This does kind of roll on your finger. You have to push it, roll it, It's a chain, so there's different ways of doing it. You really have to estimate your finger. You can put something around your finger like a piece of chain and measure. That's gonna be the easiest thing to do. I'm going to put the chain here and measure my finger. And you want to leave a little room. So I'm going to see that it's here and I'm gonna pinch the chain and I want to cut it here. A little bit smaller than that because we have to add the beads. And you can see if you make it round. It's going to go right here. Now again, everyone's hands are different so you have to gauge it and use the chain to measure your own hand and how long it can be. There's also a trick. If you make it too short or too long, you can always cut it, go back and adjust things or add another bead to it. But let's get started connecting everything. I'm going to use. This lapis, lazuli bead, faceted, gemstone beads. It's small and delicate. You don't want to use too big of beads. For this type of piece. I'm going to use gold filled wire because I like the contrast, just like the necklaces, my round nose plier. So just like before, I'm going to make a tiny loop using the tip of the wire to make a ring and straighten it out. As always, nothing's changed here. I'm going to hook it onto my chain in the middle of the bracelet part first. By hooking it onto one of the links. Have to open it a little more. My links are a little bit bigger than the previous one, and I have to open it up to get this through. Make sure your links are closed really good because this is on a part of your body where you're moving a lot. And if they're not kind of squeezed a little and hardened, it could break if they're not done right. I'm going to add my little bead and I'm going to do the next ring. Close to the bead wraparound. Tighten and snip right there. Flat nose pliers and open it a little bit and add the chain here. Close the jump ring nice and tight. Make sure everything is closed. Now we're getting somewhere. Now if you just want one more bead, then we're gonna add the chain ring to it. If you want to add more, you can add them here, you can add them here, but notice that will give it length. if you're cutting it to add here, you're adding length. So you may have to cut it down the chain. You have to do a little measurements first. Now to connect this we're doing the same technique, taking the gold wire, bending, straighten out and connected to the bottom chain. There you have it. The bead is the last link of this design. Except on this one I'm going to measure, I may have to trim that for my finger. Will see, open it up and attach the two jump rings on either side of the ring link. Now both sides are attached. Going to close the jump ring completely. And now we have a chain bracelet. Now I just need a jump ring for the back. Like before we're going to make a jump ring by taking the silver wire, going to the middle of the plier. Going around a couple of times. We want it to be perfectly round circle going to go around at least twice. We can get a nice round jump ring and go ahead and cut. These are a little bit bigger than I like, but the one I made before smaller. So you can see that you can make different size jump rings with the same wire using the same technique. And it depends where you hit on the plier. The higher you go up, the smaller the jump ring, the lower is the bigger jump ring. I'm going to just go ahead and use the smaller one for this. Link it to the end here. Close everything with both of the flat nose pliers on either side of the jump ring. And you're going to go back and forth a little bit to create some tension and close the jump ring, makes sure that both sides are even and everything is lined up. Perfect. Now we can go ahead and try on our bracelet. It's easier to first put your finger through the chain, finger chain and then attach the bracelet piece. Just like this. Fashionable, stylish and really cool piece. Thank you so much for joining me in making this beautiful ring bracelet combo body jewelry piece. This was a lot of fun. You can add this technique to any kind of body jewelry by connecting the beads with the wire in the same technique that we did for the earrings and a necklace. Have fun making our collection. And I'll see you next time.