Here’s a great gift for the girls on your list that’s easy enough for a teenager to make for her friends: A Bent Wire Name Necklace!
I love this craft because it is personalized, fun and yet easy and inexpensive to make. When Walmart asked me to make a craft for the winter season, I decided that a gift like this that you could make was the perfect idea!
This particular necklace was made for one of Princess’s friends as a Christmas gift. She isn’t a girly girl, so we didn’t want to go with gold or silver, and we didn’t want it to be too delicate. So Princess decided on a blackened chain kit and some black copper wire from the jewelry making aisle in the craft section at Walmart. The chain was not only long enough to make 3 necklaces, but it also had the rings and lobster claw clasps that matched the chain perfectly included. The wire is 20 Gauge black coated copper wire–I wanted it thick enough to hold a shape but thin enough to bend. For less than $10 I had enough supplies to make at least 3 necklaces.
The only other thing you need is some jewelry pliers. Personally I like the round pliers, although on this project I also used the flat tipped pliers to help squeeze loops together that needed to be flat. You can buy a complete 6 piece jewelry making kit at Walmart for just $15 and they will last you for years.
To make the name necklace I started out by writing the name I was doing in an easy, loopy cursive. I also drew on where the loops to attach the chain should go.
Next I made a loop on the end of the spool of wire. I didn’t cut a length of the wire because I wasn’t sure how much I would need and didn’t want to run out half way through the name! If you don’t know how to make a loop, you can learn on YouTube: How to make a simple wire loop.
Then I simply use a combination of my fingers and the pliers to bend the wire into the letters of the name, using the written name as a guide. I found that I could use the tip of a pen to bend the wire around to make decent circles for the O, top of the G and the letter A. I used my flat pliers to squeeze the center loop together on my M’s to make them flat. You just have to gently monkey around with it until you get it looking right!
Once I had the name done I had to “harden” the wire. Hardening the wire is what it sounds like–it makes the wire less likely to bend and therefore keep its shape better. The official way to harden is to place your wire on a steel block and then use a rubber mallet to strike it. I’m not a big time jewelry maker like my mom, so I wasn’t going to go out and buy all that. Instead I flipped over one of my stainless steel pots and carefully used my regular steel hammer to strike the name all along the loops. This really does firm it up! Be aware–over hardening can make something brittle, so just give a good strike all the way along your work and then call it good–don’t overdo! Also–I was worried that the color might chip off a bit (and it every so slightly did let the copper show through in like 2 places) but my backup plan was to use a black Sharpie or black nailpolish to cover any accidents like that up.
Once you’ve got your name made, you need to attach it to the chains. After measuring on my daughter I cut two lengths of chain. These had to be attached onto the name using two of the jump rings that came with the chain. On one other end I added a jump ring, on the other a jump ring and the lobster claw. To open a jump ring you use two pliers and twist it open–so one plier turns toward you and the other away. Then you close it in reverse. Don’t pull the two ends apart from each other to open–that will weaken the ring. Here’s a video on YouTube that shows you How to properly open a jump ring.
There you have it–a bent wire name necklace! I had also picked up some long jewelery boxes in the craft section of my local Walmart–so I added some ribbon and cut a couple of small pieces of wire that I bent into “u” shapes to hold the name in place.
Looking for some other great winter crafting ideas? The Walmart Moms have you covered with these great ideas:
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.