PART 2: THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S ORIENTATION TO OTHER JEWELRY FINDINGS: PART 2: CONTROLLERS AND ADAPTERS
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Choosing and Using Other Jewelry Findings: Controllers and Adapters
You have to approach the Jewelry Findings with a large measure of respect. “Jewelry Findings” are all the pieces that you use, including clasps, other than stringing materials and beads. They are called “jewelry findings”, because up until about 15 years ago, many of these pieces didn’t exist. People went to sewing notion stores, antique stores, flea markets, hardware stores, cannibalized old jewelry, wherever, and found things and made them work. Because many of these pieces are new, there is not a consensus on what some of these things should be called, so you have a lot of similarly looking pieces that go by different names. I’m sure over time, the name-game will shake out, and there will be more consistency.
Respect these jewelry findings. They are the pieces that get pulled and strained, torn at and squeezed, maligned and misused. These are the pieces that will make or break your piece of jewelry. Understand and respect them.
Many designers fail to make the full range of these pieces available to them. They either don’t know about them, or are afraid of them or think they might use them incorrectly. They too often limit their own design possibilities by relying on the same limited set of findings for everything they make. But the world of possibilities that these jewelry findings open up for us is endless.
Things Which Control the Positioning of Pieces or Sections within Your Piece:
SEPARATOR or SPACER BARS
These are multi-hole pieces that are used to keep multi-strand pieces neat and organized. In a bracelet you might use 3–5, spaced evenly along the length of the piece. In a necklace, you might use 5–7, spaced evenly along the length of the piece.. Some of these pieces are very narrow and meant to be “hidden”. Others have a decorative edge that will be seen as part of the overall design. Separators with a broad surface are referred to as Separator Boxes.
END BARS (can also be used for making earring dangles)
These pieces are basically a bar, with one centered loop off one side, and multiple loops off the other. For a 3-loop end bar (which has 4 loops — 1 centered on one side, and 3 on the other) you would finish off a 3-strand piece on the one side, and then use the single loop on the other side to begin your clasp assembly. The bar can be plain, or very decorative. The bar can be straight, curved, or zig-zagged.
On an earring, with the bar positioned horizontally, you can dangle these one from the other, and create a neat cascading effect with dangles.
These come plain, as well as very decorative.
CONNECTORS and LINKABLES
There is a sub-family of jewelry findings originally called “Connectors”, and more recently referred to as “Linkables”. [The word “connectors” didn’t seem to resonate with customers, so they are trying “linkables”, which also doesn’t particularly resonate, because people are unfamiliar with most of these types of parts. That’s unfortunate, because connectors and linkables open up myriad design possibilities.]
Connectors or linkables are pieces that either have a lot of holes in them, or have multiple loops that come off them. They enable the designer to create segments or sections of beads, which are then connected to each other. They enable the designer to re-direct the flow or pathway of the piece, or to start new pathways/directions off the original piece. They allow you to create support systems within your pieces which are very attractive, appealing, and create a higher level of interest on the part of both viewers and wearers.
The most basic connectors or linkables are rings of various sorts.
Jump rings have a gap or split in them.
Split rings are like little key rings, in which the wire of the ring goes around twice.
Soldered rings or stamped solid rings have no gaps whatsoever.
In making a choice among these, you would first try to use a soldered or stamped solid ring. If this won’t work, because you have to make some kind of jump, your second choice is a split ring. If this won’t work, either functionally or sometimes from a visual-appeal standpoint they are not appealing, you would use a jump ring.
To open and close a jump ring, you move the wire ends, on either side of the gap, sideways just a bit, so that you have an opening wide enough to slip over whatever you need to slip them over on. You never pull the wires out and in, just back and forth. After you have connected your pieces to your ring, you close the ring by moving the two ends side to side until the two ends meet. If you have difficulty doing this with your fingers, or the aid of a chain nose pliers, you can purchase a jump ring pliers. With the jump ring pliers, you close the jump ring as best as you can with your fingers. Then you put the jump ring between the jaws of these pliers, and squeeze to close perfectly.
Bead Attach Rings
These are two rings soldered together, one small and one larger. These are primarily used in beaded charm bracelets. If you strung your charms on with your beads, they would get locked between the beads, and not flow freely. Instead, you string on your beads, and string on (through the smaller hole) a bead attach ring, everywhere you want to place a charm. Then you attach the charms, usually using a jump ring or split ring, to the larger hole.
Rosary and Y-Necklace Components, and other multi-hole or multi-loop pieces (see above) let you segment your pieces, or take the strings in different directions.
There are some beads that are considered a part of the Connector or Linkable family.
Double beads are either tubes that are soldered together so that the directions of the tubes are different, or you have a tube with one or more rings soldered along its length.
Say you have two tubes soldered together, and one is curved to the left and the other to the right. You take two strings, one through one, and the other through the other tube, add some beads to both, add another 2-tube-double-bead, to twist the strings in the opposite direction, add more beads to each string, another double bead, and so forth. You end up with a bracelet or necklace that looks somewhat like a DNA-strand (double helix).
Say you have a twist tube with two loops soldered to it, one near the top, and the other near the bottom. You can take two of these, and make a long necklace, with one tube+loops positioned on the left side, and a second one positioned on the right side. The wire of this necklace is strung through the tubes. Next, you take another stringing wire from the top loop on the left side and the top loop of the other tube+loops bead on the right side, and make a strand of beads across the chest. Do this again, attaching the lower loops from left to right. You end up with a necklace that also has two strands going across the chest.
Twister beads are round beads that are soldered together, so that the holes go in different directions. Usually these come as two soldered beads or three soldered beads. You place these in 2-strand or 3-strand necklace or bracelet, at each point you want the strands to cross over each other.
The traditional way to make a twist necklace or bracelet is to take two end bars, and attach the strands in the following way:
Twister beads come in handy because problems arise when these multiple strand pieces are done the traditional way and are worn. First, if you flip one of the end bars over to its other side, you lose the twist as you envision it. Second, when people wear these pieces, they often don’t twist at the points you envisioned, either.
By using two twister beads — in this case, a twister bead comprised of 2 beads soldered together — in the example, the piece will always twist in the way the artist envisions.
Tubes with loops.
These are basically a tube with a loop soldered off the middle. You string these on everyone wherever you to add a drop or pendant to your piece.
ADAPTERS: Things Which Help Adapt Something So It May Be Used Within Your Piece:
These are basically pieces that enable you to put a loop somewhere along your strung piece of jewelry. You string these pieces on everywhere you want to add a drop or a pendant. Regular bails look similar to tubes or beads with a soldered loop off the end.
Some loops are set horizontally, and some vertically, and this positioning of the loop may affect how useful it is for your piece. PAY ATTENTION to the positioning of the bail’s loop relative to the positioning of the hole on your pendant piece.
Other types of bails:
Pinch bail — basically a fancy V-shaped piece. The legs have pointed pinchers at their ends. You push these pinchers into a horizontally drilled drop. Austrian crystal drops, for example, are horizontally drilled. And you end up with a loop to string through.
Pinch bails come in many sizes, and a few different configurations, today. You need to match the pinch bail and its design to the pendant drop you want to combine it with. When you open and close the pinch bail too many times, it breaks. You are basically taking metal and bending it back and forth. When you try to fit the bail onto the drops, often you break the tops of the drops, particularly if your drops are some type of crystal material. A hazard of using these. So, when planning your projects (and also when pricing these), always assume you will need some extra bails and some extra pendant drops.
While not my favorite thing to do, some people put a drop of super glue where each point or beg of the bail enters the drilled hole.
Snap on bail — basically a fancy lanyard clasp. This is used to make your pendant removable. You can snap on the bail over the stringing wire, and then take it off the stringing wire.
Wire bails — basically a triangular shaped jump ring, where the gap is off to the side, rather than at the bottom. The drop or pendant won’t have a gap to pull through, because the gap is on the side. What I like about these is that people often bring things into the shop to have us convert into some kind of pendant drop, and if I can’t find a regular piece to work, I usually can always make a wire bail work.
The donut bail is used to convert a glass or gemstone donut into a drop. You slip one side of the bail through the donut hole, then push the two loops on the end of the bail together. Then you string through the two loops.
Beaver Tail or Beaver Tail Bail
Beaver tails are flat surfaces with a loop or bail loop attached to one end. You glue the flat surface to your piece, say a piece of fused glass, letting the loop or bail loop to stick out over the top of the piece. If a plain loop, you would add a jump ring or similar piece, to finish off the piece.
Leaf or Foldover Bail
This is a long piece of metal with flat, decorative ends on each side, usually a leaf stamping. You carefully fold this over, creating a loop in the middle. Then you glue either flat surface to the surface of your pendant drop, like a piece of fused glass.
To glue the leaf, foldover, beaver tail or beaver tail bail to a piece, first try either E6000 or Beacon 527. If these don’t work, try a 5-minute epoxy that comes in a dual-syringe. If your piece is smooth glass, you might use some sandpaper or a file to rough up the surface a bit before gluing. If you have still having difficulty with a glass piece, try using glass cement.
These pieces are a screw-threaded post, with a loop soldered to the top. You put some glue (any glue except super glue) on the post, push it into a bead — they do not screw into anything — , attach a jump ring to the loop and string the bead on to your piece as a drop.
This is a short length of chain, usually with a spring ring clasp on one side, and a bead-drop on the other. You can buy these pre-made, or make your own. These are used to lengthen necklaces. The spring ring clasps onto the existing ring of the necklace; the hook-clasp can clasp into any link on the chain. The bead drop is primarily decorative.
These 2 ½” to 3” lengths of chain, have two tiny jump rings, one on each end. These are used to attach to bracelets, to prevent you from losing your bracelet, should the clasp come undone. You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.
Head pins are pieces of wire with a flattened or decorative end or head. You put beads on the head pin, and the head stops them from falling off. You make a loop on the other end, and string these on a necklace, or dangle them from an ear-wire or other loop. You need ½” of exposed wire to make a loop. You can make a single loop, a double loop or a triple loop. Each provides a different level of security, a different visual appearance, and a different impact on the resulting silhouette.
Head pins come in different thicknesses (gauges).
Regular thickness: 20 gauge
Extra Thin: 22 gauge or 21 gauge
Ultra Thin: 24 gauge or 26 gauge
Too many people try to use the longest head-pins they can get. They end up with bent dangles and drops on funny looking necklaces, bracelets and earrings. If you want something “long”, consider making a series of links using eye pins, instead.
When you make your loops on the head pin, make them large enough so that they have sufficient jointedness and support, and will easily slip over the stringing material or finding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women with earring dangles stuck in a 90 degree angle, because the loops were too small.
Eye pins are pieces of wire with a loop on one end. These are used to make bead-chains, such as in a rosary. You put one or more beads on the eye pin, then make a loop on the other end. You need ½” of exposed wire to make a loop. These come in different thicknesses (gauges).
Regular thickness: 20 gauge
Extra Thin: 22 gauge or 21 gauge
Ultra Thin: 24 gauge or 26 gauge
You can buy head pins and eye pins pre-made. Or you can easily make your own, using simple wire working techniques.
Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:
Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.
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