Simple necklaces often take the form of a chain with a simple focal pendant. However, these sleek designs can be marred by the tendency of the clasp to slide around from behind the neck to the side. This is my personal pet peeve, and in this design I experiment with a way of eliminating it – by turning the clasp into the focal element.
For this design you will need round-nosed pliers, needle-nosed pliers, and a pair of wire clippers that can stand up to harder wire. You will also need at least 24 inches of chain (more depending on the desired length), nail head wires (which should be made of a half-hard wire), and beads of your choice. Depending on the chain and the clasp, jump rings may be necessary. Images corresponding to the instructions can be found in the gallery at the end of the post.
- The first step is to select the length of chain for the main part of the necklace. This particular design calls for 18 inches, but it can be adjusted for personal comfort or style. To break the chain, it is not ideal to cut the links. Every link is valuable, and can be reused later. Chain links can be difficult to manipulate; once opened they can be almost impossible to reform into their original shape. Manipulating the links too much damages them, which is visually unappealing and eventually weakens the chain. For this reason, any single chain link (picture 1 (a)) should be opened and shut again only once, and preferably as few links should be opened as possible to complete the project. To open a single link, the two pliers should carefully grip either side of the link, and the link should be torqued open gently from side to side (when viewed from above, picture 1 (b)). The point where the two ends of the link meet should separate by sliding passed one another, not by being pulled away from each other. Pulling the two ends of the link away from one another (picture 1 (c))makes it nearly impossible to close again in its original shape. By simply displacing the ends side to side, there is exactly enough room to string either a clasp or other wires, and it is relatively easy to slide the ends of the ring back into place.
- Using the technique described above, open a link (picture 2 (a))and string one half of the clasp onto on end of the wire (picture 2(b)). Close the link again around the clasp (picture 2(c)). If the link is too small for the loop of the clasp, a jump ring can be used to link the clasp to the chain. Similarly attach the other half of the clasp to the other end of the chain. Test the chain around your neck to make sure it is the right length. Individual links of chain can be added or taken away if the length needs to be adjusted.
- There are several kinds of links that can be made simply with nail-head wires. Once these links are mastered, they can be combined in any number and combination to make a unique focal piece. For this style necklace, the loops that attach one bead to another will not be holding a lot of weight. This means that it is not necessary to create wire wraps to tie off links. Simple loops will do; but only when using half-hard wire. Nail-head wires are usually half-hard; this means that the wire will hold its shape unless a lot of force is applied. The simple loops are created by simply wrapping the wire around the tip of the round-nosed pliers once to create the appropriate size loop. The size of any simple loop can be varied by sliding up and down the length of the tip of a pair of tapered round-nosed pliers. For a smaller loop, move the wire closer to the end of the pliers, for a larger loop, move the wire toward the base of the pliers. Next, cut off the excess wire tail, and use the round nosed pliers to close the loop and torque it so that it’s not listing too far to any one side (this may take several attempts… be patient. The needle-nosed pliers can used in the other hand to get a better grip on the wire). Note- never throw excess nail-head wires away! The left over wire is needed for the other links.
- The first type is the simple end bead using a nail head wire. String the desired bead(s) on the nail head wires, and then create simple loops to close the link. These elements will be the decoration at the ends of each chain. Again, do not throw away the left over wire! (pictures 3a (1) and 3a (2))
- The second type of link is a bead link, made by making a simple loop on one end, stringing the desired bead(s), and closing the link with a simple loop on the other side. This is one of the places where excess nail-head wires will be used; simple loops only work with half-hard wire. Full-soft wire (the type used in previous designs) can be used, but wire wraps will be necessary to tie off the links. These links can be used in the middle of chains, or to attach chains to the clasp. (pictures 3b (1) and 3b (2))
- The third type of link is an alternative to a jump ring. This link also needs half-hard wire. It can be created with full-soft wire and wire wraps, but that’s a tutorial for another time. The link is a simple figure-eight that can be used to attach elements that are too small to fit around the clasp. This is made in the same way as part b, but without stringing any beads in between. The trick for this link is to make sure that the loop that will be attached to the clasp is big enough. (picture 3c)
- Using the techniques described in step 3, create the focal element. For this piece, three dangling chains were strung onto the clasp. For the first, I used a figure eight to attach a short length of chain (about an inch and a half) to the clasp, and attached a nail-head stop with three beads to the end. For the second element, I used a bead link to attach a short chain to the clasp, and again finished with a nail-head link with one bead. For the last chain, I used a figure-eight to link a short wire to a bead link, to which I attached one last nail-head wire link. This is another great experimental piece; the links can be put together in almost infinite combinations to produce unique, beautiful designs (pictures 4 a through 4 d and the focal picture of this post).
- Some final thoughts on this piece: patience is necessary when dealing with half-hard wires, simple loops, and chain. All of these are slightly more difficult techniques and materials. However, by removing wire wraps from the equation, the transition between links appears cleaner. Because this piece is entirely simple loops, it is less secure. All the loops and chain links must be closed as completely as possible, but even then there is a chance that occasionally a link may be lost. It is always simple to repair. Planning is necessary in selecting materials; if the chain links are very small, nail head-wires may be too think (jump rings may even be too thick). Some beads also have holes too small for nail-head wires, but that is more unusual. Experiment, and have fun!