Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jewelry Making: Crazy About Cuffs!

Over the years my interest in jewelry making as a form of creative expression has never waned; in fact, I'm crazier about it than I've ever been! And that includes metal art jewelry as well as wire-based art jewelry, which I'm perhaps better known for. I love working with wire, especially solid sterling silver and copper wire—not too crazy about brass wire yet, but I'm keeping an open mind—to make art-to-wear pieces. The medium seems to be unlimited, and even after working with it intensively for over a decade, I'm still coming up with new ways to use it in my designs.
But lately, I'm really crazy-crazy-crazy about cuffs! I think it started about a year and a half ago. Suddenly I wanted to make cuff bracelets using wire, sheet metal, and sometimes a combination of both. From there I've branched out into other materials, and this exciting new journey is just beginning to unfold with an abundance of creative possibilities.
After sawing and piercing out this cool copper cuff (the colors come from a heat patina), I found myself yearning to work with wire again. So I made a very heavy-gauge cuff bracelet embellished liberally with coiled and knotted sterling silver wire (pictured at the top of this post). The base is copper wire, making it more affordable. But isn't it a bangle?
Just what is a cuff, vs a bangle, vs. a bracelet anyway?
You'd think I'd know the answer after writing so many books on jewelry making, but suddenly I felt unsure. So I did what most of us do in situations of uncertainty: I googled it. And here are some interesting facts that I dug up:
A cuff is a rigid structure (i.e. not jointed like a linked charm bracelet) with an opening that allows the wearer to more easily slip the cuff on and off.
A bangle also is a rigid structure, but traditionally has no opening. It's large enough to slip on and off. The challenge of designing a bangle that fits is that it must slip over your hand onto your wrist, but it can't be so large that it easily falls off again. Tricky if you're like me, with large hands and relatively small wrists!
A bracelet can be a chain of links, some type of metal band such as a cuff, a thin band, or a bangle. So, when in doubt, simply say that you're making a bracelet and you're covered! But now that I have firm definitions for cuffs vs. bangles, I'm happy to know that both bracelets featured on this post are cuffs: They are rigid structures with an opening. Best of all, I really enjoyed making them and look forward to making many more!
Happy wrapping,


Sweetwater Designs said...

LOVE substantial and earthy. I say cuff..just because I like the word better. :-) It sounds more like art.
Bangle or cuff, I love your work and have a much pored over copy of 'Bead on a Wire'. I had no idea you had a blog, I will keep you on my bloglist!

Deborah L

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