Pinterest and Etsy have exploded lately with handwriting jewelry: a method of memorializing a loved one by having their signature laser-cut into metal and worn. Beautiful, but a little expensive for some.
Luckily, there's a DIY way to do this! Read on to learn how to make handwriting jewelry yourself!
Learn Advanced Wire-Wrapping Techniques!
Go beyond standard designs as jewelry artist Kathy Frey shows you how to make eye-catching, dimensional pieces! Enjoy expert guidance through advanced techniques in these HD video lessons.Enroll Now »Better yet, it's not even that hard if you can use a pair of pliers. The trick is: don't try to eyeball it. I created the above copper rendering of my own name in a pretty good approximation of my own handwriting, but the one I tried without a template was a disaster. So here's how to use a template for handwriting jewelry with wire!
How to make handwriting jewelry
Supplies you'll need:
- A sturdy piece of paper (so it doesn't wriggle or tear while you wrangle your wire)
- Medium-size felt-tip marker
- Round-nose pliers of various sizes
- Some wire!
- Hammer and steel hammering surface** (optional)
**If you want to hammer your final piece - and I recommend it - you will also need a jewelry hammer, a steel hammering surface, and I would choose at least 18ga wire that is NOT non-tarnish coated (it will crack if you hammer it too much).
Step 1: Make the template
First, write your word. I actually did a couple of different variations on my name and chose the smoother, more rounded one so I could take advantage of my round pliers to fit the loops.
You also want to think about how you're going to mount this piece — in my case, the top of the G and L are pretty close to the edges, and I wanted a necklace, so they should be a good place to attach jump rings and chain. We'll talk later with a second example about more difficult words and how to make them usable.
Step 2: Bend and curve
Working right off the spool, pull out a piece of wire and, using your template as a guide, start shaping the wire. Here I found a pair of pliers that fit into the curve at the beginning of my writing, then put the wire right on the paper and formed it to the next loop with my fingers. To make the next curve, hold the wire tight with one hand and pull the wire, spool and all, until it matches.
Use pliers of various sizes to fit your curves to the written lines. Put your pliers right on the paper until you find the closest match.
Use chain nose or bent chain nose pliers to pinch the wire along lines that double back on themselves. You can probably get the wire to lie in front of itself for a single line, as well.
Alternate working with your hands and your pliers to bend your way through the rest of your word, constantly checking against the paper and working directly on it when possible. When you near the end of your word, you can cut your wire off the spool for easier manipulation (or just wait until you're done if you are saving scraps).
Finish off the word with an attractive curl, cut your wire, and make adjustments as necessary to fit the writing.
Step 3: Hammer the curves
Grab your hammer and steel hammering surface and hammer each curve of the word with sharp, focused blows, flattening the extreme edge of the curve and creating line width variation. Work from the back if you don't want to see hammer marks.
Note: It's important to NEVER put anything you don't want hammered onto the work surface — and this includes where the wires cross (as they could break) as well as your own fingers.
To reach some curves, it might become necessary to crack open your word. In this case, open it sideways, like you would a jump ring, to keep from mangling your carefully crafted shape.
Step 4: Finishing
Compare your hammered word to your original message and make any final adjustments with your hands. You probably want the baseline (where the letters would sit on a lined page) to be even, unless you're looking for an exact match to your original written word. File the ends of the wire if they're sharp, or to make more graceful curves.
Finally, add some chain to your word using jump rings, as planned.
For other words without such conveniently placed ascenders, practice writing them and add curves where necessary, such as at the end of the word joy, below. Also note how I cheated the dot in the lowercase 'j' in that word with a circle attached by wire.
And it's that easy! You can duplicate just about any word or script writing with this method. What words will YOU be writing in wire this weekend?
All photos via Gayle Bird
Learn Advanced Wire-Wrapping Techniques!
Go beyond standard designs as jewelry artist Kathy Frey shows you how to make eye-catching, dimensional pieces! Enjoy expert guidance through advanced techniques in these HD video lessons.Enroll Now »