Details, details. This month's boot camp is all about details. Fine Finishings, the little things that make your work really POP, really shine.
As a newbie jewelry designer, some of the basic details were often the most difficult to master. One thing in particular I have always been obsessive about is covering my crimps, and creating good, strong crimps.
|Stainless steel crimps|
Tools matter and a good set of crimping pliers is a must. Learning how to use them matters. Where to place the crimp in the jaws, how to then finish the crimp with that all important fold, then test that crimp to make sure it's holding. I sometimes use two crimps if the design is heavy or I'm not sure about the crimps themselves. Practice, practice, practice.
Then, covering those bad boys. To me (and this is just a personal opinion), nothing makes a design look unfinished like an exposed crimp, yet I see this so often! Get yourself some crimp covers and hide that thing! Crimp covers are basically seamed round beads (usually 4 or 5mm) that are left open, allowing you to slip the bead around the crimp like a clamshell, then you squeeze the crimp cover closed--viola, no visible crimp! Crimp covers are also great for fixing mistakes in layout or spacing. Have a loose spot or space between beads you didn't notice? Slip in a crimp cover or two and you're good to go. If you want to get super fancy, you can also use French wire to cover the stringing material you made your loop with. French wire is fine wire coiled up like a micro spring. You thread your stringing material through it to cover it. I must confess that this is something I should do, but don't because I am lazy and impatient and never remember to order it. BUT, whenever I see a strung design finished with French wire I love it and really think it adds a professional detail and look to the design. AND, it protects your stringing material from whatever you crimped it to (clasps, hoops, etc.). Again, these little things matter so much in the long run!!
You'll discover all sorts of ways to cover crimps--pre-made crimp covers are just one quick and convenient way to do it. I create tiny wire wrap bundles around my crimps as added texture to a design, or use a large hole bead that will slide over a crimp, followed with a crimp cover or bundle somewhere else in the design to take up the slack. You can be creative, even with something as basic as crimping.
|Two recent designs showing how I cover crimps--either with large hole beads followed by crimp covers |
to take up slack, or bundles of wire as an accent following or over a crimp or large hole bead.
Finally, when trimming your stringing material behind a crimp, try not to trim flush with the crimp. Leave yourself as much room as you can for stretching or loosening (unfortunately, this is pretty much inevitable over time). I try to use beads with holes big enough for my stringing material to pass through twice (at lease near the crimp) so I can tuck a nice tail of material behind the finished crimp. This way if the crimp gets loose or fails, the entire design won't immediately fall apart. This is also a good argument for double crimping on each end. Better to be safe than sorry!
|The process--All it takes is patience. Notice the extra tail of stringing material I left, going through the turquoise. |
If this was an extra heavy design, I would add another crimp here, then cover it.
While crimps may not be the most exciting topic in jewelry design, learning how use them properly and professionally are basic skills all jewelry designers must master. So, go forth and CRIMP ON...just make sure you COVER YOUR CRIMPS!