Introduction: Fantastic Beaded Wire Masks
While this is not necessarily something I would call a beginner's project, a beginner could probably do some variant of this project with a lot of patience. I am going to mention some things a beginner might not know and an advanced wire jewelry maker would (should? hopefully?).
This is a pretty inexpensive materials-wise creation. Time wise, not so much. With my years of experience, I probably logged 10 hours working on this project. This was my first attempt at a project of this scale out of these materials. Making another would probably take less time, and another after that. I learned quite a bit from this attempt, even though I have been making wire jewelry for years.
You're going to need some basic tools and supplies. Let's look at that in our next step.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
You WILL need:
Wire (I used 12 gauge, 20 gauge, and 28 gauge)
Beads (I used seed beads, cube beads, faceted beads, and mm beads)
Wire Cutter (preferably a flush cutter)
Pen/Pencil/Paper (for creating your pattern)
You should PROBABLY also have:
Bent nose jewelry pliers
Round nose pliers
A cup bur (or a metal file)
Additionally useful things:
Step 2: General Tips and Tricks
Photo One: This side is the side you want to have facing the wire end that will become part of your project.
Photo Two: This shows how one side is cut "flush" and the other is cut in a v-shape.
Photo Three: Wire end has been rounded with a cup bur. You want all of your wire ends rounded if possible!
Photo Four: Bending wire with the curve is always best.
Photo Five: String beads onto the wire ahead of time if you are working on the wire spool. This technique is best when you aren't sure how much wire you will be using and avoids wasting wire.
Photo Six: When you need to cut the wire off the spool and want to keep beads already strung on the wire, you can make a small loop to hold them on.
Photo Seven: E6000 works great to temporarily hold pieces in place and can then be removed by peeling off later.
Photo Eight: Using various clips also works well to keep pieces in place until you have bound them together with wire.
Tips without photos:
Start inside and work your way out on your project. It becomes very difficult to work on parts near the center once you have started working farther out.
You can wrap some pieces ahead of time and then work them in if they are more "freestanding" than structural. I did this especially with the embellishment to the "dragon neck" on my mask and the spiral.
Wire does kink if you are not careful when you pull it through a smaller space! Be mindful of your ends and your middles.
Take breaks. Your eyes, shoulders, and fingers will thank you. Or, at least not hate you the next day.
Step 3: Here We Go!
Begin by thinking about what sort of forms you might want to incorporate into your design. I wanted mine to be reminiscent of a dragon, so made sure to have a head and a wing. You can do symmetrical or asymmetrical designs, I find asymmetric to be easier for a first attempt.
Sketch your design onto paper. I drew two eyes from another mask and went from there. Be sure your eye holes are larger versus smaller. It makes the mask generally more comfortable to wear and much easier to see. You might be choosing to impede vision for a particular look, but think about the consequences first!
Start bending your wire, following your design. It probably isn't going to be exactly perfect and that's okay. Wire is both forgiving and unforgiving. You can change your design easily... but it also likes to kink if you aren't careful. Go slowly and mark them off as you make each piece.
Masks can be lots of smaller pieces or larger pieces, I'd suggest starting with larger pieces if this isn't a medium you're familiar with.
Keep checking things against your pattern as you go!
Once you've made all your pieces, it is time to start wrapping them together and embellishing them with beads. There is no right way and the only wrong way is to be inconsistent. If you have all of your beads on one side, don't suddenly have a bead on a different side. I alternated mine because that was the look I wanted.
Step 4: You're Done!
You can add chain dangles as I chose to do or not, that is entirely up to you.
Be prepared for a lot of compliments either way. This isn't something people see every day!