Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing with Wire: Work Hardening

During the New York show, one of my favorite things to demo was work hardening. The newbie beaders were fascinated by how quickly and easily it happened. Don't know what work hardening is? I wasn't sure of the technical definition (I really just enjoy seeing the results), so I went to the Design School at Soft Flex's website to find out and now I know. Check out the great explanation here.

Anyway, I was playing around with the Wigjig Olympus-Lite, trying to come up with a design that will complement my vampire costume for Halloween. Here's what I did. It's loosely based on a piece worn by Bela Lugosi in Dracula.

I placed my pegs and used about 24" of wire to make the piece. I began by making a starter loop with my new wire looping pliers (Believe it or not, this pair of pliers was the ONLY thing I purchased at the NYC bead show. I don't know how I survived this long without them!), and started wrapping from there. When I finished wrapping and popped the piece off of the Wigjig, this is how it looked:

I tried to photograph it from the side so you could see how wonky it is when it comes off the Wigjig, but it's hard to tell. Basically, the piece was quite curvy and the six points were twisted in different directions. I formed a double wire wrapped loop to connect the top loops and turn them into a bail. Then, I began the work hardening process using my nylon jaw pliers. They're shown below (left) along with the wire looping pliers.
To work harden using nylon jaw pliers, you just grip a section of the wire piece with the pliers and it magically hardens. I worked the pliers all around the piece and it looked like this:

It was flatter and firmer at that point, but still not finished. So, I pulled out my chasing hammer and wire whacker to complete the process. Now it's completely flat and work hardened! I just need to dig through my crystal stash to find some deep red crystals to add to the piece and string it onto some black Soft Flex Beading Wire and/or a red ribbon and my costume will be complete!


Creative Stash said...

Nice demonstration of work hardening, thanks Jamie! I look forward to seeing the finished piece along with your costume! Happy Halloween :)

Softflexgirl said...

I love the word "wonky". :)

LisaD said...

I saw the ornaments that you made in NY...LOVE THEM. You are so talented!

Jamie Hogsett said...

Thank you!! xoxo