Boho Style: 5 Ways to Finish Silk, Ribbon and Leather Jewelry
Does your studio have seasons? When the weather gets warm and days are more blue than gray, my jewelry follows my wardrobe. When I’m in T-shirts and sandals, I don’t always feel like wearing or working on metal jewelry, using a torch, etc. I prefer leather jewelry making, maybe using cotton and silk ribbons, with colorful stones and beads. Don’t those things make you think of carefree summer days?
On a recent weekend, my lovely Mama and I drove into the East Tennessee countryside to a barn sale precisely in the middle of nowhere. It was gorgeous out there–and finding a big, beautiful old barn full of talented artists at the end of our path was invigorating. I was inspired by many of the jewelry artists. One made necklaces out of miniature paintings on tiny canvases hung from leather and silk cords. One used felted balls in lieu of gemstones set in pretty ring bezels, and one hung big, bold gemstones and gem slices not on the familiar long, thin chains but on leather cords and raw sari silk ribbons.
I enjoyed seeing how these artists used fibers, silk ribbon, fabric, and leather jewelry supplies to bring lightness and color to their jewelry. I especially appreciate the airiness that fibers bring to metal jewelry. These were all riffs on familiar designs that felt fresh. I couldn’t wait to get back to my studio to see how I could use leather, sari silk, and ribbons.
If you’re new to ribbon, cord, or leather jewelry making or haven’t worked with these materials in awhile, you might need the same refresher I needed on how to best finish the ends and to attach clasps and other findings.
Findings for Ribbon and Leather Jewelry
Here are five ways to finish ends and connect components to cord, ribbon, and leather jewelry, excerpted from Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel’s stylish, pretty book, Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry.
- Crimp Cord Ends: Insert the end of the cord into the crimp cord end until the cord is close to the top. Position the cord end so that the loop is horizontal to the chain-nose pliers to prevent breakage. Use the pliers to flatten the center of the cord end, securing the cord.
- Fold-Over Cord Ends: Place the end of the cord into the finding. Using flat- or chain-nose pliers, fold the left and right flaps down one at a time over the cord. Press firmly.
- Knot Cups: Tie a double overhand knot at the end of the cord. Trim close to the knot. String the hole on the knot cup. Close the cup gently over the knot with the front notch of crimping pliers.
- Ribbon Ends: Add a dab of glue to the end of the ribbon and insert it into the ribbon end. Squeeze the ribbon end closed with nylon-jaw, flat- or chain-nose pliers wrapped in painter’s tape to prevent marring the metal.
- Bead Cones: Hold the ribbon [or group of cords/threads] 1/4 inch from the end. Hold 6″ of 22-gauge wire parallel to the ribbon with half the wire extending past the short end of the ribbon. Using the other half of the wire, bend the wire up onto itself. Begin to wrap the wire tightly around both the ribbon and the other half of the wire, moving toward the short end. Press the wire wraps with chain-nose pliers. If needed, trim excess ribbon. Use the free end of the wire to string one cone. Form a wrapped or double wrapped loop. –LE & ES
Bohemian-Inspired Supplies: Finishing Cord, Ribbon, and Leather Jewelry
Lorelei and Erin also cover types of knots, glues, and wire wraps you’ll need to make leather jewelry. Ribbon, sari silk, and other fiber cords are also covered, including a guide on how to care for silk ribbon.
In Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry, you’ll get 50 (yes, FIFTY!) projects by Lorelei, Erin, and other talented artists to help you brighten up your jewelry by incorporating colorful ribbon, leather, silk, and other fibers.