Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Charms Tutorial

Hello all :)

So is having a Christmas project contest that got me thinking.
I COULD just upload my project and leave it with 'no instructions available' like so many others do. 
Personally, however, I find it rather irritating when I'm checking out things listed under 'free projects' and discover it's nothing more then a picture. I'm sorry, but 'free project' to me means instructions on how to DO the project. 

And 'free' means  FREE... looking at a 'free' project and following the link to the instructions only to find a pdf you have to PURCHASE from someones etsy shop irritates me too... but that's besides the point.

So... despite the fact that it'll take a bit of time to do and that it's a little bit extra effort on my part without any extra personal benefit ..I decided to create a tutorial for the project I'm entering.
Click here to go to my Craftsy page for this project and click the 'heart' to vote for my project :)

Okay... end explanation & mini rant... 
... cue tutorial...

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Christmas Charm Bracelet & matching earrings


( approx) 48 assorted beads in red, white, green & gold
(approx) 7" gold-tone chain in the style you desire (depending on the size you want the finished bracelet to be.)
gold-tone head pins - one for each bead
Either gold-tone seed beads OR ball head pins
gold-tone french ear wires
gold-toned toggle clasp
8-10 gold toned jump rings

round nose pliers
flat nose pliers
wire cutters
measuring tape

The type, size and color of beads & findings are totally up to you. Since this is for a Christmas bracelet though, I've used gold-tones for the chain and findings, and red, green, white and gold colored glass beads. Make sure to set aside three sets of matching pairs of what ever beads you're using for your earrings.
You'll notice in my picture that I have four colors of beads, but within those colors is a variety of shapes & sizes. You can certainly use the same sizes and styles through out, but I think the different style beads add to the whimsical, fun nature of the bracelet.

First off, if the bracelet is for you, measure your wrist; the tape should be snug but not tight. Measure out your chain so it's the length you want and use your wire cutters to snip the link past your measurement. ( If it's not for you, 7 is apparently 'average' size for a woman... although the majority of the women I know are a 6...>.< find out what size you need to make it to be safe )

Use two of the jump rings and attach your clasp to either end of your chain. You may chose to use two jump rings at each end for added strength. For a nice full look to your charm bracelet, you want one bead dangle per chain link. ( that's what I did.) You could also go one every other chain link for a slightly less 'crowded' look.  Count out how many charms you'll need, then set your chain aside.

To make a bead charm ~

Take one of your head pins and slip on one of the gold seed beads then one of your larger beads.( if using a ball head pin, you don't need the seed beads).
Place your thumb on the bottom of the pin while you hold the bead so it doesn't slip, the use your flat nose pliers to bend the head pin over at a 45 degree angle.
Use your wire cutters to trim the excess pin off. I find 1/2" to be plenty to work with.
Now take your round nose pliers and pinch the end up the wire and roll it half way around the jaw of the plier, forming half a loop, then turn it around and finish closing the loop about 3/4 of the way.

 I suggest you mark your pliers on the place you used to wrap the loop on so all your loops will be about the same size.

Congrats... you just made a beaded charm. Keep going until you have enough to fill your bracelet, PLUS an extra six for your earrings.

At this point I stretch my chain out on my mat then play with the bead charms, laying them out until I liked the way it looks. Then it's just a matter of hooking each open loop through the chain and closing the loop.

Make sure your chain is straight when you do this. Some people prefer to pin their chain down and only attach the charms to one side. If you're doing every other link or have smaller beads, it would be best if you did this. If you're doing a bead to every link and are using larger beads... or even 2 beads to every link, depending on the size of your beads and links, then I don't find it matters since you can't really see the chain, and the weight of the charms will make it twist and turn all over anyhow ;)

Once all of the charms are attached, I take my flat nose or curved nose pliers and go back over each one to make sure they're all straight and closed securely.

then all that's left is to try it on :) The toggle clasp will have added a bit to the over all length of the bracelet, giving it enough dangle. If you find it a bit big, cut off another link or two and reattach your clasp. If you find you cut it a bit small, you can add a couple more doubled jump rings to the end of the chain to give it that extra bit of length. Or just make yourself a new one and give the too small one to someone as a gift ;)

for the earrings -
Attach one bead charm to each jump ring.
choose the order you want your colors to hang in, then attach the top jump ring to your earring finding. Attach the jump rings so that each rings hangs from the one above. Make sure the way the beads hang on each earring mirrors the other.'re finish :)

Maybe I'll take photos of this process and add them in to this some time over the next couple days.

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