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October 21, 2015

Making Wire Leaves

Or should I say that I'm trying to make wire leaves.  I could just title them leaf-like wire shapes, but then no one would ever find them in searchin google.

I intended to make leaves, so that's what I'll call them.  I'm not sure I'm fully satisfied with them yet, but like most things I make, I usually have to let it sit for a day or two to see the merits of the design (or lack of...)

In case you are interested in making similar wire leave shapes, I'll walk through how I made them.

First, I actually gave the design a little thought, made a few samples and scribbled some notes.  This is helpful when I am just playing because in just a few minutes I can easily forget how much wire I used to make each of the leaves.  This way, at least I have a couple of reference points.

There are definitely a few techniques at work here, so I'll start with the basic shape.

To make a simple rounded bottom leave (top on right in my notebook), fold a piece of 20g wire in half using your round nose pliers.  I started with 2inches of wire and it made a 5/8 inch long leaf.

If you want symmetrically shaped sides, trim the wires even at the top after you've folded them.  I started with even leaves, but eventually decided I liked a more organic look.

Unfold the wires slightly, as even as possibly.

Make an initial shape around a mandrel.  I use the Beadsmith plastic step mandrels - which I highly recommend.  They are pretty inexpensive and they come with 4 different shaped mandrels with 12 step sizes on each one.  They're not super sturdy, but I use mine often to make a variety of shapes and sizes wire frames.

Remove the wire from the mandrel and add a simple loop on each side of the wire.

Bend the wire around a mandrel again. This time, I try to find a step where I can bring the simple loops that I made in the last step together. I think how you do this will depend on how you plan to eventually use (hang) your leaf.  I add a jump ring through the loops, so having them align is important.

Ta da!  It looks like a chili pepper!  To be fair, they look a bit better in larger sizes.

Here are a few more - after doing some light hammering to harden the wire to help it keep its shape. The second rounded end leaf is slightly larger and made from 22g wire. 

The next two leaves on the right are about 1 inch in size and made from 3 inch pieces of 20g wire.  The bottom end is pointy because I used my pliers to squeeze the wires together in the first step forming a much tighter V shape.  

Here's another look at some different styles. There are some more detailed step by steps on the Beadwork site for the variations - including how to make the pointy end style wire leaf and also how to make the leaf with the wire vein down the center and add beads.  That is my favorite so far. Although it reminds me a little bit of a feather as much as a leaf.

And here's my first project with the wire leaves!! I;m so excited with how these came out.  This design uses the pointy end wire leaf technique, with a slightly messy double wire wrapped loop tourmaline rondelle chain. They are about 3 inches in length - very swingy, sparkly and fun!

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  1. They look like leaves to me! I like them.

    1. Thank you! I almost always need to sleep on a design before I'm satisfied. But I love the earrings! They are light and swingy and fun.

  2. I like them! Thank you for sharing.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Thank you for sharing. The leaves look lovely.

  5. These are terrific! I especially like the 1", 20 gauge ones with the pointy bottom tips. I can see these even a little bit fatter (like an onion shape) and used as an armature for macramé. I also love the earrings! Super wearable, and the leaves make all the difference. Thanks!

    1. I love the idea of using them as an armature for macrame! What a great idea.

  6. Really like your leaves. Going to try to do some. I am a self taught jeweler. Any ideas on how to get a pointy edge on a brooch pin

    1. The only thing I can think of to try is a fish hook sharpener. I'm not sure how sharp it will make the metal - but you might want to look into it. They are pretty inexpensive tools (under $10) and can be purchased at sporting goods stores, WalMart or online. I don't have one, but it makes sense that it would work for that.

  7. I love these earrings! Thank you for sharing your technique for making them! May I share your tutorial in my upcoming newsletter? I would of course link directly to here for people to find the instructions.