Pendants shaped like cats, dogs, butterflies and other animals or insects are popular choices for all types of jewellery designs. It’s simple to make wire animal jewellery if you first make a jig to shape the wire. Making a wire jig is also a simple process, but there are a few specific steps that make the difference between a precise design and a wire blob. Create any animal shape that you like, just keep the outline simple if you are a beginner.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Animal template
- Wood block
- Finishing nails
- Measuring tape
- 22-gauge copper wire
- Round nose pliers
- Wire cutters
- 24-gauge copper wire
- 4mm crystal beads
Trace the outline of the animal template onto a block of wood. The outline of the animal should be no larger than the desired size of the pendant for your jewellery.
Hammer finishing nails into the outline on the wood. Place the nails up to 1/4 inch apart for straight lines, but closer if the outline curves. The most important thing to remember when making a jig is to place the nails wherever the outline bends, angles, curves or dips, no matter how slight the adjustment appears. These small nuances determine the overall design of your wire animal.
Measure the perimeter of the animal jig. Cut a section of 22-gauge copper wire 2 inches longer than the length of the perimeter. Soften and straighten the wire by running it through your fingers for several minutes. Working the wire this way also helps to warm it so it will bend and curve more easily.
Make a small loop in one end of the cut wire. Hook that loop over the finishing nail closest to the animal’s neckline. The loop will be hidden by a beaded collar in later steps. If the wire animal you are creating has no neckline, or if you prefer not to have a beaded collar, loop the wire over any nail in the outline. Notches and dips are preferable, as the connections of the ends of the wires will not be as noticeable in these areas.
Thread the wire along the outside of the nail outline to create the shape of the animal. End by hooking the wire through the first loop and pressing it together with round-nose pliers. Remove the wire animal from the jig by lifting it straight up. Finishing nails do not have heads, so the wire should slide off the jig easily. Cut away the excess wire.
Cut a strip of 24-gauge copper wire large enough to make a collar for the wire animal. Make a loop on one end of the wire. Bend the loop at a 90-degree angle to the wire strip. This is the hook where you can attach a jump ring and include the animal pendant as part of your jewellery designs.
Thread 4mm crystal beads to the loop, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of wire open at the other end. Bend the open end of the wire at a 90-degree angle to hold the beads in place.
Wrap the beaded collar around the neckline. Hook the bent wire on one end through the loop on the other at the back of the wire animal. Wrap the wire around the loop securely and cut away the excess.
Open a jump ring with round nose pliers. Hook it through the loop in the back of the collar. Close the jump ring. If you did not make a collar, make a small notch in the wire animal wherever you’d like to hang the jump ring. A notch is not necessary, but it will help keep the wire animal in position as it hangs from a necklace.
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