Monday, March 3, 2008

how to make a wire eye

There are were questions about wire wrapping and charms in the Mixed Media Art group. I thought I would do a small tutorial on the blog. If you want to know what kind of pliers to use, then please go to Crazy Art Girl's blog (link in right column).

You will need a pair of wire cutters or flush cutting pliers, round nosed pliers, and flat nosed or chain nosed pliers. Practice with small pieces of wire before you decide to do it on a piece of jewelry or a charm. It takes a little practice, but once you get it, it is really easy after that.
1. Take a piece of 20 gauge wire and your round nosed pliers (top pict). I used copper because it was handy. If you use a lower gauge wire, which is thicker, it is harder to work with. I work a lot with rebar wire and it is harder to work with but is great for heavier pieces of jewelry and it gives a great distressed look.
2. Take your piece of wire and fold it over one of the jaws in picture 2 (second pict from top). Use your other hand and pinch the wire together right underneath the jaws. The jaw that is on the outside is what provides the crimp/shape for the eye. With your hand pinching the wire, bring the pliers towards you in a downward motion, that will make the half circle. Now do the same thing on the other side. You can turn the wire around so that it faces you and turn down. See pict 3 - 3rd pict down. What I do is just move the pliers around so that the pliers face the other way. Do the same downward motion with the round nosed pliers. Do that until you get the circle shape you want.
Note, the Nina Bagley method is just to move the pliers downward towards you and then downwards the other way without repositioning the pliers until you get the circle shape you want. I do it that way but repositioning your pliers is an easier way of doing it.
So to recap: Fold the wire in half over one of the jaws of the pliers, pinch bottom near bottom of pliers. Pull the round nosed pliers down towards you. Reposition pliers so that it faces the other way. Pull down away from you. Do that until you get the circular shape you want.
One other note: How far up you go on the round nosed pliers will determine how large your eye (hole) will be. If you do it at the tip of the jaws, then the hole will be pretty small. I usually make my holes as large as possible. I will explain how to make even bigger eyes at the end.
3. Looking at pict 4 now - second from bottom pict, this is where you do the wire wrapping. I used the round nosed pliers and hold the eye right above the neck (where you crimped it). Some people hold it right at the neck. Now you wrap one end of the wire around near the base of the eye. You can do it as many times as you want. I only do it a 3-5 times around. I use the chain nosed pliers to do the wrapping. You can use your fingers but I find that using the pliers gives me a tighter wrap. Snip off excess. Use round nose to bend in the end so you don't get a sharp end or get it caught on something later on. Last pict is finished eye.
If you are doing this on a piece of jewelry or charm and you want the eye with the wire wrap close to where the charm ends or whatever ends, start the eye about 1/4" away from the end. Make sure you have enough wire to do this. Just fold the wire over about 1/4" away from the end. Use your round nosed pliers like in the example above. Crimp the wire right underneath the pliers with your other hand and rotate the wire towards you, reposition pliers and rotate in the other direction. Hold the eye near the neck with the round nosed pliers and use the chain nosed pliers to wrap a few times. Snip and tuck end in. Done.
If you want a larger eye like in the last pict, then you will need something round to wrap around. I used a paint brush handle. I wrapped the wire around the handle. I used the chain nosed pliers to pinch the two ends wires together right underneath the brush handle. Take the brush handle out. You should automatically have the shape you want. If you do not, then put the handle back and crimp closer/tighter to the handle. When you are happy with the shape, then hold it near the neck with the round nosed pliers while your wrap the wire with the chain nosed pliers. When done, snipped, and tucked, then I suggest you flatten the eye. It will help keep the shape of the eye and will strenghten the wire. Larger eyes will not hold it's shape as well if it is not a hard, stiff wire. 20 gauge silver/copper wire is pretty soft. Even rebar will lose its shape if not pounded. I use a bench block and hammer. Position the eye so the wire wrapping is off the edge. Just pound the eye until it is flattened.
Email me if you have any questions.

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