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Education Corner

There are two techniques that I wanted to highlight in this month's Simply Beads update. The first is how to use a crimp tube and a crimp tool. The second is how to use a cord end in a way other than simply attaching it to the end of a piece of cord! With these two techniques I am going to walk you through some step-by-step instructions to show you how I created the earrings featured in this month's Free Jewelry-Making Project.

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The lists of supplies and tools needed to create this pair of earrings are pretty simple. As you can see, I have bead-stringing wire, assorted beads, crimp tubes, brass leaf charms, brass cord ends, ear wires, 22-gauge brass wire, jewelry glue, flat-nose pliers, flush cutter and a crimp tool. I wasn't sure which size cord end I was going to choose to use, so I made sure I had a variety of sizes available before beginning the project.

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1. Use flush cutter to cut an 8-inch length of bead-stringing wire. Thread beads onto the wire in this order: one wood bead, one crystal bead, one wood bead.

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2. Thread both ends of the bead-stringing wire through a crimp tube.

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3. Place a leaf charm over the crimp tube and adjust the position of the crimp tube up or down on the bead-stringing wire until the charm looks properly placed.

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4. Carefully lift the project up, being mindful not to move the crimp tube from its desired position. Placing the crimp tube in the back half of the jaws of the crimp tool, gently squeeze the crimp tube onto the stringing wire, creating a slight kidney-shaped crimp.

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5. Carefully move the crimp tube to the front half of the crimp tool jaws and, once again, gently squeeze the crimp tube to round out its shape as well as tighten it onto the stringing wire.

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6. Use flush cutter to trim the excess stringing wire from the top edge of the crimp tube.

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7. Lay an open cord end faceup and place a small dot of glue in it. As you can see here, I like to lay a bit of scrap paper or paper towel on top of my work surface to catch any excess glue, just in case.

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8. Lay the crimped tube into the glue, making sure it is centered; allow glue to dry. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you allow the glue to dry fully before moving forward. It will allow your project to be neat and clean, and you reduce the risk of getting glue on your hands or tools when you allow it the proper time to dry.

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9. Once the glue has fully dried, use flat-nose pliers to bend in first one edge and then the second edge of the cord end. Gently squeeze it to lie flat and flush on the glued crimp tube.

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10. Use flat-nose pliers to twist open the bottom loop of an ear wire. Place the beaded unit through the loop. Twist loop to close.

11. Repeat steps 1-10 to make a second earring. As you can see, this is a very nice pair of earrings. However, let's kick it up a notch by adding just a little bit of "messy wire wrapping" to the top of the leaf charm.

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12. Use flush cutter to cut two 12-inch lengths of 22-gauge wire.

13. Bend the end of one wire and hook it through the loop on the top of the cord end of the beaded unit. Wrap the wire in a "messy" fashion around and around the top of the leaf charm.

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14. When there is a short length of wire left to wrap, bring the end in and around to the back of the earring. Use flat-nose pliers to bend the end of the wire and tuck it up and into the previous wraps, making sure it is fit in tight and secure.

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15. Repeat steps 13 and 14 on second earring.

16. In this photo I wanted to be able to point out the difference one more step can make. While some people do not care for the look of messy wire wrapping, I love it on this project. To me it helps bring home the earthy, nature-inspired feel of this project.