by Rena Klingenberg.
This is a great project for using some of your wire scraps! (Of course, you can use new wire too.)
And because we’re going for a primitive look here, tool marks are welcome – in fact, we’ll be giving our wire a definitely distressed look.
- 9 pieces of wire: anywhere from 12 to 18 gauge; for the graduated stick lengths, I used wire pieces from 2 to 7″ (5 to 18 cm) long.
- Wire cutter (make sure all of the tools you use for this project are sturdy enough for these heavier gauges of wire).
- Round nose pliers.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Chain nose pliers.
- Hammer (either a metal jewelry hammer or a regular hardware store hammer – we want to dent, pound, and texture our wire into a primitive look!).
- Jeweler’s steel block or other sturdy surface for hammering on.
- Cup bur, jewelry file, or knife-sharpening stone for smoothing the cut ends of your wire.
- Beads to use as spacers between your wire sticks (I used black wooden beads).
- Leather cord or neckwire.
- Clasp for your necklace.
How to Make an
Aztec Bib Necklace:
I started out by sorting through some of my brass wire scraps, looking for pieces that were 2 to 7″ long and 14 or 16 gauge:
Except for the rustic spiral centerpiece, I wanted pairs of wires in graduated lengths, so the necklace bib as a whole would have a nice shape.
Here you can see my finished wire sticks, and how the two wires in each pair are roughly the same length:
Once you’ve chosen and cut your wire pieces to the desired lengths, smooth and round the wire ends using a cup bur, jewelry file, or knife-sharpening stone:
Now the fun part begins! Remember in this project we’re working toward the primitive, distressed look of an ancient artifact.
I started by making my rustic spiral centerpiece.
I used a 7″ (18 cm) piece of wire, and used my flat nose and chain nose pliers to make a rugged spiral:
When your spiral is done, use your pliers to bend the main stem so that the spiral is centered at the bottom of it:
Now we’re going to make a loop at the top of the wire stem (if you’ve never made a plain loop, or have trouble making them, see my 2-minute video How to Make a Plain Wire Loop).
Use the widest part of your round nose pliers to make the loop:
And then use the tips of your pliers to straighten the loop and center it over the main wire stem:
Now use a metal jewelry hammer or hardware store hammer to flatten, dent, and texture both sides of your entire spiral centerpiece:
Now shape the other 8 wire sticks.
Each wire stick needs a plain loop at the top – and then you can use flat nose, chain nose, or round nose pliers to add bends, loops, or whatever you like:
Use your hammer to flatten and texture each of these sticks:
OPTIONAL: If you want to oxidize or patina your wire sticks, now is the time to do that. (I left mine plain, to oxidize naturally over time.)
Now let’s string the Aztec bib necklace.
Lay out your wire sticks in the order you wish – I placed my spiral stick in the center, and arranged the four pairs of sticks with the longest ones on either side of the spiral, and the shortest pair at the ends.
String them onto your leather cord or neckwire, with your spacer beads (I have black wooden beads) between the sticks and at each end:
Now your necklace should look something like this:
Now add your choice of clasp to your leather cord or neckwire – and you’re ready to wear it!
Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?
In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.
By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.
You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.