Aztec Bib Necklace – Tutorial

by Rena Klingenberg.

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This is a great project for using some of your wire scraps! (Of course, you can use new wire too.)

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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.

Supplies:

  • 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.

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

brass wire scraps

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:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

smooth off the ends of your wire

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:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

When your spiral is done, use your pliers to bend the main stem so that the spiral is centered at the bottom of it:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And then use the tips of your pliers to straighten the loop and center it over the main wire stem:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use a metal jewelry hammer or hardware store hammer to flatten, dent, and texture both sides of your entire spiral centerpiece:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your hammer to flatten and texture each of these sticks:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your necklace should look something like this:

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now add your choice of clasp to your leather cord or neckwire – and you’re ready to wear it!

Aztec Bib Necklace Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class 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.

 

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Comments

  1. Those wire sticks are fun. Great tutorial

  2. LOVE this idea. Thanks!

  3. This is a great idea Rena. I have a lot of 20 gauge gold-filled and sterling silver wire scraps, could I use the 20 gauge wire for a project like that as well? Or would the wire be too fragile for this?

  4. Thanks for your lovely comments!

    Christa, I think 20 gauge would work well, but would be more durable in shorter lengths than I used in this project. My wire sticks are pretty long – the finished centerpiece spiral stick is 2.75″ from top of the loop to bottom of the spiral, and the shortest sticks’ finished length is about 1.75″ from top of loop to bottom of stick.

    Also, a 20-gauge Aztec bib might be nice with more sticks than the 9 I used.

    Are you going for a mixed metal (gold filled & silver) look? That sounds fantastic! :)

  5. Thanks Rena for sharing that great tutorial, love it!!

  6. Great Necklace! Love the rustic spiral center piece and the shapes you used for the wire sticks.

  7. Great design, Rena! The necklace looks like sunshine.

  8. Lovely!

  9. SherriLynn says:

    What a wonderful idea!…the variations on this are endless. Thanks for sharing Rena.

  10. This is so cool Rena! I am going to try this with copperwire and my sawdust
    fired clay beads!! Thanks .

  11. Rena, thanks for sharing this tutorial. This is a very pretty, bold, and unique necklace!

  12. This is such a totally awesome necklace!! Amazing what you come up with! Your friend, Linda

  13. Mixed Kreations says:

    Cool necklace! Very primitive. Wonderful tutorial with great pictures. Thank you for sharing.

    Linda

  14. Great necklace! I wish I was more crafty! Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays! ~ Paula

  15. Now that is about the cutest necklace i have seen….!! I love the Aztec look… :)
    Have a terrific week….
    hugs x
    Crystelle

  16. What a great tutorial!! Your pictures are wonderful.

  17. that is so super good lookin’!

  18. Hi,
    I am following you from Happy and Blessed Home. What a lovely necklace. love the symmetry.
    Blessings,
    Janis

  19. Beautiful piece there!

  20. Really cool, thanks for the tutorial! :) Danica

  21. Wooowwww! That necklace is awesome, I loved it. You do a great job!

    Hugs
    Cami @ Titicrafty blogspot!

  22. Fantastic necklace. And doesn’t sound too hard to do. I’ll have to see if I have any of that gauge wire.. I really want to try this. following from the weekend blog hop

  23. That is so creative and unique! Thank you for sharing it at SHOW-licous Craft Showcase.

    Marti

  24. What a great statement necklace. It has a fantastic ethnic vibe and would be great with dressier or casual outfits. This is a bit out of the ordinary from you. I’m impressed. Thanks for sharing.
    p

  25. This is my kind of project…distress marks are ok and using what I have on hand! The necklace looks really cool too.

  26. I liked this tutorial so much, I decided to try my hand at it and made a few pieces yesterday. As soon as I figure where the best place to post photos of the pieces would be, I’ll share what I made.

  27. Phyllis, I’m thrilled to hear that!

    You can share your pieces here at JMJ: Submit a Post.

    Looking forward to seeing your creations! :)

    Update: See the post Phyllis sent in – Aztec Jewelry My Way. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Phyllis! :)

  28. You have the COOLEST tutorials!! I love your creativity and can’t wait to try each and every one!! :) Michelle

  29. Hi Rena. Here I am again with another comment.

    I loved your tutorial and decided to give it a try. I used 14 ga copper wire and played around with the shapes and the number of sticks.

    Lots of wire gauges to try out with this idea. It has endless possibilities!

    Thanks for sharing.

  30. Pretty!

  31. This is awesome. We do projects associated with our history lessons each week, so I’m pinning this for when we get to the Aztecs.

    We made shoulder pins when we studied the Celts:
    highhillhomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/08/celtic-history-co-op-week-3a-jewelry.html

  32. Hi Rena, Im using this design of wiggly-squiggleis in a silver color wire (18 gauge) as summer lightning, grouping several on a large jump ring, adding an ear wire. Awesome! In gold tone (14 gauge) they make great sun rays with Carnelian brads. And other variations! Both so great for summer wear. Thanks, thanks, thanks
    Marcia.

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