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Falling leaves

Form an asymmetrical wire necklace in the spirit of autumn
falling leaves
A focal nugget and accent drops of red coral are a bold splash of color. The background necklace features a more subtle palette of turquoise beads.
falling leaves fig 1
Figure 1
falling leaves fig 2
Figure 2

Create stylized leaf shapes using wire’s natural curve. While your technique needs to be precise, the design’s beauty is that is mimics the randomness of fallen leaves.

SUPPLIES

Necklace 18 in. (46cm)

  • 12–15mm focal bead
  • 2 15mm top-drilled drop beads
  • 3 mm silver nugget bead
  • 2 4mm silver spacers
  • S-hook clasp
  • 1 yd. (.9m) 16-gauge sterling silver wire, half-hard
  • 3 1⁄4 in. (8.3cm) 20-gauge sterling silver wire, half-hard
  • 6 in. (15cm) 24-gauge sterling silver wire, dead-soft
  • 10 in. (25cm) sterling silver chain, links large enough to fit three jump rings
  • 2-in. (5cm) sterling silver head pin
  • 23 6mm jump rings
  • 2 silver crimp covers
  • nonpermanent marker
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters
     

INSTRUCTIONS

Wire generally comes coiled. To create fluid curves, don’t straighten the wire. Instead, gently work with its existing curves to create each bend. To determine length, use a flexible measuring tape or hold a piece of string along the wire and then measure the string.

falling leaves a
Photo a
falling leaves b
Photo b

Piece 1

1. Cut a 7-in. (18cm) piece of 16-gauge wire. Measure 1⁄8 in. (3mm) from one end, and using figure 1 as a template, line up that point with point a. Grip the wire with your chainnose pliers at point b, and make a bend (PHOTO A).

2. Grip the longer wire 1⁄16 in. (2mm) beyond where the shorter wire meets it, and create a sharp bend at point c (PHOTO B). The end should extend just beyond the previous curve (point d).

falling leaves c
Photo c
falling leaves d
Photo d

3. Create small hooks on the ends (points a and d) by bending each wire end over the tip of your roundnose pliers (PHOTO C). Trim any excess wire. Attach the hooks where they overlap the form. Adjust them, and squeeze each closed with your chainnose pliers (PHOTO D).

falling leaves e
Photo e
falling leaves f
Photo f

Piece 2

1. Cut a 13-in. (33cm) piece of 16-gauge wire. Locate the center of the curved wire and draw a light reference dot with a marker. Make a dot 3 in. (7.6cm) to the right of the central dot, and another 2 1⁄2 in. (6.4cm) to the left of it.

Using figure 2 as a template, shape piece 2 as follows: With the ends of the wire curving away from you, grip the far right dot with your chainnose pliers. Push the end over the pliers to make a sharp bend at point b (PHOTO E) so that the wire end touches the center dot at point a.

2. Grip the far left dot with your chainnose pliers, and bend the left side in the same way at point c (PHOTO F). Adjust both ends until they meet at the center dot.

3. Leaving 1⁄8 in. (3mm) of overhang, trim each end. Create a hook on each end. Hook the ends over the central portion of the wire. Position them approximately 1⁄16 in. (2mm) apart at points a and d. Lock their position by using chainnose pliers to gently squeeze the hooks tight. 

Piece 3

1. Cut a 13-in. (33cm) piece of 16-gauge wire. Continue using figure 2 as a template to shape piece 3 as follows: Using chainnose pliers, grip the wire 2 in. (5cm) from one end, and create a bend at point f so that the shorter end overlaps the longer end at point e.

2. Create a small hook on the shorter end, and attach it to the longer wire at point e to make a leaf shape. Squeeze the hook to lock it in place.

falling leaves g
Photo g
falling leaves h
Photo h

3. Grip the longer wire just above point e, and bend against the curve about 30° (PHOTO G). Do not straighten the remaining wire – it needs to retain its natural curve.

4. Using your roundnose pliers, grip the wire 1⁄8 in. (3mm) above point e. Wrap the wire, front to back, around one tip of your roundnose pliers, forming a loose loop. The wire should curve to the left (PHOTO H).

falling leaves i
Photo i
falling leaves j
Photo j

5. Attach the loose loop of piece 3 to the center of piece 2 (PHOTO I). Using chainnose pliers, gently pinch the loop closed.

6. Grip the working wire about 4 in. (10cm) from the center loop, at point g, and bend it to form a larger leaf shape that frames piece 2.

7. Form a hook at the end of the wire at point h, trim any excess wire, and attach the hook to the base wire between point e and the loop you made in step 4 (PHOTO J). Adjust the hook, and squeeze the hook to lock it.

Tip!
Editor’s Note: Perhaps you know the carpenter’s adage “measure twice, cut once.” With this project, measure twice and bend once. Use your ruler to measure carefully so you keep re-bends to a minimum, and you’ll have much cleaner lines in your necklace. If you’re new to wireworking, practice with copper before using expensive silver.
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