Monday, May 6, 2013

How to Make Eye Pin Loops - the "glue" that connects your jewellery together

If you've ever had a necklace or bracelet catch on your clothes and pull a thread (or catch in your hair...OUCH!), it's probably because there is a loop that hasn't been closed properly.  

But catching on your clothes and pulling your hair is not the worst of it... 

Poorly closed loops eventually manage to unhook from the other components they're connected to and then your jewellery falls apart. Arrggghh!

Faceted black beads on gold links. Some loops are open and have become unhooked from the necklace.

When you close your loops tightly, your jewellery looks polished and professional. And the bonus is... 

It won't catch on your clothing or your hair ever again.

What is a Simple Loop in Jewellery Making?

Simple loops, or loops, are used to connect one element of a design to another, like a beaded link or a dangle. They can also be used in place of a jump ring in some designs. 

Simple loops aren't soldered, so it's essential that they're completely closed; otherwise, components work themselves loose and unhook from each other.

Poorly closed loops = broken jewellery!

Simple loops can be made on either an eye pin, a headpin or a length of wire.

It takes practice to master making perfect loops, so instead of using your eye pins and headpins, buy a spool of inexpensive, 20 gauge copper wire to practice on. Copper wire is soft and malleable which will make turning the loops easy. Tip: Avoid hard wires like steel - they can be difficult to work with. 

Now, let's get on with this!

Here's what you'll need:
Let's talk about these tools and WHY you need them for making loops.

Round Nose Pliers 

You simply can't make round loops without round nose pliers. They will help you form the loop. 

Round nose pliers are thin at the tip and gradually increase in diameter as you go up the jaws. This means you can make loops in whatever size you need. 

Expert Tip: Draw a line on the jaws of the round nose pliers with a permanent marker. If you line your wire up with this point, all your loops will be the same size!

Chain Nose Pliers

Chain nose pliers are curved on the outside and flat on the inside of the jaws. They taper towards a narrow tip, so they are good for getting into tight spaces. 

You can use chain nose pliers to create a bend in the wire. The bend will be the "neck" of the loop.

Flat Nose Pliers

Flat nose pliers are flat on the inside, the outside and both sides of the jaws. They are also broader than chain nose pliers. 

When you use these to create the "neck" of the loop, you get a more defined bend than with chain nose pliers. I use these in the tutorial because I prefer the sharper bend.

Flush Cutters

Flush cutters cut the wire (or head pin or eye pin), as do wire cutters. But the difference between them is that with flush cutters, you get a flat (or flush) cut on one side of the wire and a pointed cut on the other side.

The flat cut is the end you will form the loop on.

How to Make an Eye Loop

Cut a 5cm (2") length of wire. It doesn't have to be exact.

Place the flat nose pliers approximately 1cm (3/8") from the end of the wire. In the photo below, it's the left-hand edge of my flat nose pliers that is 1cm from the end of the wire.
Placing the wire in the jaws of flat nose pliers approximately 10mm from the end of the wire.

Bend the wire at this point at a 90° angle. I'm using flat nose pliers because I prefer a sharp bend.
Wire bent at a 90° angle approximately 1cm from the end of the wire.

Switch to the round nose pliers. Hold the pliers in your dominant hand and grip the end of the wire in the pliers so you can only just see its tip.
Placing the tip of the wire between the jaws of the pliers

Rotate your wrist inwards as far as it will comfortably turn.
Rotating the pliers to form the first part of the loop

Release the wire from the pliers. Rotate your wrist so it's facing upwards and regrip the wire at the same position in the pliers as before. Rotate your wrist inwards again until the loop is completed.
A perfectly formed simple loop

This forms a nice round loop. 

How to Create a Loop with Straighter Sides

You might prefer your loops to have slightly straighter sides. You can do that with a minor adjustment when you form the loop.

Bend the wire as before but this time, make a 60° bend.
Copper wire bent at a 45° angle approximately 1cm from the end of the wire

Grip the end of the wire in the pliers making sure that approximately 1mm (1/32") is visible beyond the jaws of the pliers.
The tip of the wire is placed in the jaws of the round nose pliers

Make the loop following the instructions above. 

You can see that this loop is more straight-sided.
A simple loop with straight sides

Here are the two loops alongside each other for comparison.
Two simple loops: one with round sides, the other with straight sides.

There are a couple of slight variations for making simple loops, but each one is a variation of the method above.

Now, just keep practising until you get this technique down pat. Once you've mastered how to close your loops really well, your jewellery will be really secure, it will look professional and you won't have problems with pieces becoming unhooked.

Pin this for Later!
Simple Loops Tutorial sheet

'Til next time.....

Want to learn jewellery making? Click here to learn how.

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