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Thursday, February 18, 2010

End Caps
End caps are available from 2 mm up to 5 or 6 mm internal diameter. They  are easy to use in your jewelry making projects and they look elegant.  End caps are available in sterling silver or silver plated. Silver plated are usually made of brass and then silver coated. Buy caps that have an internal diameter the same diameter as the cord that you are going to use. You may have to trim the corners of the end of your cord with a pair of scissors to round the edge and make it slide easier in the cap.

When I work with  round leather cords I apply a very small quantity of super glue around the tip of the cord and I twist it inside the cap to make sure that the glue goes everywhere. I use a clear super glue (Loctite) that dries very fast. Be careful though!  Wear glasses and watch your fingers.

For braided leather cords I prefer to apply the glue inside the cap, no more than one drop or you will have the glue overflow the cap when you insert the cord. Actually all you need is a very small quantity. I do this because, if you apply the glue directly on braided leather cord, it becomes soft and it is harder to insert it into the cap. Make sure before you glue that the length of your jewelry is correct because once the glue dries, just a few seconds, you will not be able to take it apart.

Please feel free to add to this post or ask any questions that you may have.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jewelry Making Essentials

Now that we know all about leather cord, let's go ahead and make our first necklace. We are going to need:
1. A pair of pliers.

Any kind of pliers will do. However, if you are going to make a lot of jewelry, choose one that will feel good in the palm of your hand. I prefer a small flat-nosed pliers with a tension spring that will return the pliers to the open position.

2. A leather cord length of about 18" for a standard size, or whatever length you prefer. We are going to use 1.8 mm to 2 mm thick cord.

3. Two end coils, one clasp.
We are going to chose 2.2 mm coils with an end loop. 2.2 mm is the internal diameter of the coil, and our 1.8 mm or 2 mm cord will fit perfectly.
Coils clasp

Two plain coils-- these hold the beads in place so the clasp does not slide to the side.

Two round metal beads-- these put a buffer between the coils and your beads, and are a good design element.

These are the basic elements of your necklace; you can add a pendant, ceramic beads, or both!

How to do it:
Place an end coil on one end of the cord, then use the pliers to squeeze tightly the very last loop of the coil. (see image)

Don't use a lot of pressure, or you may cut the cord. That's all there is to it, but it can take a little practice. If you "ruin" the end of the coil, you can trim that part off with wire snips and try again.
You can now string your beads and/or pendant and finish the other end.
[If you are using the optional plain coils to hold the beads in place, give these a light squeeze with the pliers, just on the outermost loop of the coil.]

About Leather Cord

Leather cord is mainly imported from India and Greece. Greece was the first to begin leather cord production, and Greek leather cord is well known for its quality.
Indian manufacturers followed, and soon caught up in quality, but at a much more competitive price. Find a good reliable vendor and expect to pay 50% or less of the price of Greek cord, for the same or better quality.
Why is the Greek leather cord so much more expensive? Because Greece is a member of the EEC, and prices have skyrocketed since the introduction of the Euro.
The weak dollar doesn't help, either; at the time of this writing 1 Euro equals about $1.50 USD.
Leather cord comes in several shapes, sizes and colors. You can buy round, braided round (bolo), flat ribbon, and the scary looking "barbed-wire" leather cord!
The size is in mm (millimeters) and you can buy it in 1mm to 6 mm thickness. The most popular size is 1.8 or 2 mm, and the most popular color is black.