Saturday, February 19, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Bridal Hairpins

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When my twin girls were but a twinkle in my eye (or two twinkles in my eye?), I had my own wedding jewelry business for two fun but very busy years. One of my favorite things to make were these hairpins that look like blossoms on little branches.

But even if you’re not planning a wedding anytime soon, this is still a great technique to learn…all you have to do is change up the beads and you’ve got a completely different look for everyday.

How to Make Bridal Hairpins

Materials:

  • Hairpins: U-shaped hairpins are the easiest to work with and you can wear these in an updo. For those with finer hair (or short hair like me) you can use regular bobby pins. Combs, barrettes and tiara forms also work well.
  • 26-gauge wire: I’m using sterling silver but you can also use silver-plated or other metals, plus less-expensive craft wire from your local craft chain store (great for practicing). 28-gauge can be used too (bigger number=thinner wire) but might break more easily. If you go too thick, it will be difficult to work with the wire.
  • Beads: Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can use all the same bead or an assortment.
  • Wire cutters and flat-nosed pliers: Nothing fancy needed.
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Directions:

We’ll be making hairpins with pearls and crystal quartz teardrop beads.

1) For this design, cut about 18 inches of wire. Leaving a little tail at the end (about 3/4 inch), start wrapping the wire around the hairpin. Go around about 3 times. Use the pliers as you go, to tighten the wire around the hairpin. Snip off the tail end and use pliers to flatten the end against the hairpin and scoot the coil over towards the side.

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2) Now we’ll start making the branches. Thread one pearl onto the wire and stop about 1 inch above the hairpin. Curve the wire 180 degrees so that the pearl is at the top of the upside-down U. Make sure there’s an equal length of wire going “up” to the pearl as there is going back “down” to the hairpin. The “down” end should be on the opposite side of the hairpin as the “up” end, so it looks like two legs straddling the hairpin. The straddle will help secure the branch to the hairpin.

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3) In one hand, grasp the hairpin as well as the “up” and “down” ends of the wire. Then start twisting with the other hand. Twist gently and and with even movements. Keep going until you can twist no more. It does not have to be perfect…trees in nature are beautiful but no two branches are alike! To start the next branch, loop the wire underneath the hairpin curve so that the wire starts going “up” again.

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4) Now we’re going to make a branch with three sprigs. One sprig will have a “clover” of three beads.

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Thread three beads about 1/8 inches higher than the first branch’s bead, and as before, curve the wire 180 degrees to form a U, with the middle bead at the top. Pinch the two side beads together to form the clover. This time, we’re going to twist only halfway down the wire. Grasp the wire with pliers with one hand and grab the three beads with the other hand. Twist until you reach the pliers and stop.

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5) Gently bend the wire up again and create the 2nd and 3rd sprig of this branch. I used a teardrop shaped bead and a single bead. Twist only until you meet the first sprig.

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6) To form the supporting branch, straddle the two wires around the hairpin. Grasp the hairpin along with the two wires in one hand. With the other hand, grasp the point where the three sprigs meet and twist until you can’t twist anymore.

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7) Loop the wire underneath the hairpin. Make two more single branches, making one with a teardrop and one with a clover of 3 beads.

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8) To finish, wrap the wire around three times and trim. Use your pliers to straighten and tighten the coils around the hairpin.

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9) Gently maneuver the branches and sprigs so that it looks natural. Here’s the finished product!

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One of my lovely bridal customers sent me a picture from her wedding. I used Swarovski crystals and pearls and I made about 6-8 hairpins for her, which she scattered throughout her updo.

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You could also bunch up just a few hairpins, or wear just one depending on the length and number of branches you make. And you can change up the beads and play with lengths to get different looks. Once I made hairpins with smoky grey pearls and a Blue Topaz as the bride’s “Something Blue” (below, left). The gold birdie bead is a favorite of mine as well (below, 2nd from left).

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You can use this technique for designs without branches, as I did with the twin cherry button (the picture above shows the front and back). You can also make flower shapes (above, two on the right)…if you make very short twisty branches, you can easily maneuver the flower petals into the shape you want.

As with all my tutorials, please let me know if this inspires you to make something similar of your own! I love weddings even though I’m an old married broad of 6.5 years. So for this project in particular, please please let me know if you make these for your wedding, and I’d love to feature you!

This was originally a guest post on My Four Monkeys, and was my very first tutorial ever.

 

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6 comments:

  1. Those are beautiful Steph! What a fabulous idea, thank you for sharing!

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  2. These are so beautiful!!! I might have to find an occasion to make these for my girly girl... although she recently cut and donated her hair (yikes!). No matter... I'll find a reason to make these for her! Thank you for your tutorial!!!!

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  3. I always wear my hair in a bun when I am working...maybe I'll try a simpler (less bling) version for myself...great idea thanks

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  4. I know what I'm doing in about when I get off the computer!

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  5. What an awesome idea, I have about a billion of these laying around in the bathroom I could bling up.

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