Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wired Crystal Sliders

I've come up against a design challenge this week whilst creating a bridal hair accessory. Brides usually have a very definite idea of what they want but I was lucky that this bride was easy going and relaxed and was happy for me to design her something elegant and sparkly that suited her petite frame and the royal blue colour scheme of the wedding. What a great brief, but with only a short lead in time to the happy day it didn't leave enough time to order the components I wanted to work with so I had to use whatever components were in stock at my local supplier.

I found some great sapphire Swarovski pear-shaped, claw-set sliders to use as accents but this has led to a few challenges trying to find ways of incorporating them into the design. You see, they are sliders and have 2 holes on either side whereas I need either a top-drilled or a centre-drilled crystal for wiring so that the crystal has a stem.

So, how do you get around the problem of the holes being in the wrong place? Well, this is what I came up with!

I've used 26 gauge non-tarnish silver wire in this tutorial but I generally find it much easier to work with 28 gauge - the finished stem is still strong but it's more delicate looking.

I've cut my wire to 25cm (10") for this piece. Adjust the length to suit your design - it will need to be twice the length of the finished piece plus you need a little extra to allow for the twisting of the wire.

Decide whether you want the point to face up or down (my example shows the point facing down). Thread the wire through the hole on one side at the pointy end. Thread it diagonally across the crystal through the hole at the round end. Move the crystal towards the centre of the wire.

Thread the wire through the opposite hole on the rounded end and diagonally across the crystal so that it comes out on the opposite side at the pointy end.

Pull the wire tight, centring the slider on the wire and making sure that the wire is sitting neatly against the top curve of the crystal. Bring the two wires together underneath the point.

Cross the wires over each other and then twist them together.

Place your thumb and index finger of the left hand just below the crystal and the thumb and index finger of your right hand approximately 15-20mm (3/4") apart.  Twist two or three times. Move your hands along the wire and twist the next section. Once you've reached the end, start back at the beginning of the wire, twisting two or three times. Continue doing this along the wire until you have a tight, even twist. You may need to repeat this step a few times.
Once my stems were all made, I curved them into a loose spiral before arranging them in the design.

The twisted wire adds a lovely texture to the jewellery and it also gives the wire strength to hold the crystal in position.

Design challenges like this really make you think outside the square and sometimes the solutions you come up with are better than the original idea. This is definitely one of those times.

I'll share another one of the other design challenges I've had with this piece in another post.

'Til next time.....

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