Friday, April 27, 2012

My Tip for Easy Clusters

Let me be honest. I avoided making huge full clusters until just last year. They just seemed like too much work. I mean, these look like they took forever!:

Maybe I'm just lazy, but the idea of all those dangles... I used to shudder at the thought. Not because I don't have the patience to sit and wire wrap. I love wire wrapping! But when I first thought of doing clusters, the process of making one dangle, attaching it to the piece, make another dangle, attatch it to the piece... rinse, repeat... that's what made me run!

Not anymore.

I work in an assembly line style when doing clusters, now.

1) Estimate how many beads you want for your cluster and slip each of them onto their head pins. Try not to overestimate so we don't waste any head pins (I forgot to take a picture of this step).

2) Take your chain-nose/flat-nose pliers and bend each of the head pins at right angles near the bead. Notice, this is the first step to making a loop.

3) Grab your round-nose pliers and make all your loops. In the picture above, I made wrapped loops.

4) Snip the excess wire for all your dangles.

5) Tuck the pointy bit into the wrap (again, forgot to take picture).

If you notice, each step has it's own pair of pliers associated with it... except the first step, which requires no pliers. Because you're not constantly setting down and picking up a new pair of pliers, it cuts down on the time it takes to make the dangles.

Now, the fun part for me is assembling the cluster. For the above earrings, I took a jump ring and attached half my dangles, my wire wrapped briolette, the second half of clusters, and then the earring wire.

If the cluster looked thin, I could always attach more. But if it was too full, I'd have to take the dangle off and kill the head pin which always seems like such a waste.

Another idea for clusters is to string them onto a head pin like in these earrings below:

For these, I used an onyx drop on a gunmetal head pin. I strung my dangles on top and then a gunmetal round. Then, holding the round flush against the dangles, I made a wrapped loop to hold the round in place. The round is nice and tight against the dangles. This keeps the dangles in place and looking full. It gives the earrings a nice cluster cap.

I also love the look a strung cluster of dangles. Or clusters on a chain! When I make chained clusters, I make simple loops instead of wrapped and it's still rather beautiful.

Hope these tips help you when making clusters! Please don't hesitate to ask me questions! I'll answer them if I can :)


  1. Hi Rose,
    I agree, assembly line is the only way to get this done. I've made several cluster bracelets and by using this technique I've cut my time by half. I love your designs. Cheers!

  2. :o) I always do it in stages like you I find it so tedious otherwise. Xx

  3. I should definitely try this method :)

  4. A good movie you can look away from, a bowl of beads and headpins, 2 tools and the next thing you know, you've got a new collection of cluster jewelry!

    Thank you for sharing your tips, Ahtee!

  5. Hi Ahtee,
    Assembly line is the only way to go it makes creating so much more easier and enjoyable. Love all of your clustered earrings by the way.

  6. Thanks for the tips. I might actually make some clusters tonight for a future project!