Whether long or short, fat or thin, dreadlocks lend themselves to ornamentation. They're the perfect place to show off your personal style with handmade jewelry. One style of loc jewelry that allows you to express your creativity is wire cuff jewelry.
Cuff-type jewelry has a cylindrical portion that slides onto the loc. Designs are created in the remainder of the wire, to which you can add beads if desired. Cuffs can be added or removed quickly from your dreads, allowing you to change them as easily as your mood or wardrobe changes.
Making jewelry for locs is a suitable project for kids and teenagers as well. With adult supervision, kids can create designs for themselves, family or friends.
Things You'll Need
- 20 gauge craft wire
- Wire cutters
- Round-nose pliers
- Chain-nose pliers
- Beads or shells (optional)
Cut a piece of 20 gauge craft wire approximately 8 to 10 inches long with the wire cutters. Wire and tools can be purchased at craft and hobby stores. Craft wire comes in a variety of colors as well as silver, gold and copper; 20 gauge wire is easy to manipulate with tools and your hands, and sturdy enough to maintain your design shapes.
Choose a mandrel approximately the same diameter as the loc you wish to decorate. A mandrel is a device to wrap wire around to make a cylindrical shape. While craft stores sell mandrels, any cylindrical object, such as a pencil, pen or permanent marker, will work, as well as chopsticks or bamboo skewers for thinner sister locs or for children's smaller dreadlocks.
Place one end of the wire against the mandrel. Begin wrapping the wire in a circle around the mandrel, forming enough circles to make a cuff at least 1/2 to 3/4-inch long, depending on the size of your locs. The cuff needs to have enough wraps to hold its shape for thicker locs, without becoming too bulky for thinner ones.
Create a design with the remaining wire tail, such as a flat spiral or a serpentine. Remove the cuff from the mandrel to make working with the wire easier.
For a spiral, create a small loop in the end of the wire and begin wrapping the wire in a flat circle around the loop, laying each coil of wire next to the previous one. Change from round-nose pliers to chain-link pliers when you can no longer manipulate the spiral with the round-nose pliers and continue making the spiral until you reach the cuff.
For a serpentine shape, grasp the wire close to the cuff with the base of the jaws of the round-nose pliers, wrapping the wire in a half circle around the thickest part of one of the jaws. Remove the wire, position the pliers approximately 3/4 of an inch away and bend the wire in the opposite direction. Continue reversing the direction of the bends until you reach the end of the wire or until the serpentine is as long as desired. Clip any excess wire and make a small loop in the end of the wire with the tip of the round-nose pliers to make a finished end to the design.
Attach the cuff to the desired loc by inserting the tip of the loc in the cuff and sliding it to the desired position on the loc. Make adjustments in the wire with the round-nose pliers if beads do not hang correctly or the design elements do not lie as desired.
Tips & Warnings
- It's trial and error at first to determine how much wire to cut. Keep measurements of the length of wire you use for different designs as a guide for future projects.
- Practice working with scrap pieces of wire to learn to manipulate the wire with the tools and to experiment with creating different designs. Get creative with free-form designs once you're comfortable working with the wire.
- Add beads to your design at any time. String small beads on the wire and wrap them into the cuff, add them before creating the small loop at the end of the wire design or add them to the bars of the serpentine design.
- Supervise small children. Wire ends are sharp and beads are a choking hazard for children and pets.
- Wear eye protection when cutting wire, as clipped ends can fly quite far. Collect and dispose of all scrap wire to avoid accidental foot or paw punctures, or accident ingestion by pets.
- "Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders: Creative Wirework Projects for All Levels"; Irina Miech; 2009
- Photo Credit wire and beads image by nix pix from Fotolia.com