Saturday, January 12, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Coiling Wire for Jewelry

Wire coils are an essential wire-jewelry component that every metalsmith and jewelry artist ought to master. Making coils of wire that are evenly wrapped with no gaps and no overlaps is your goal. All it takes is practice to master this important skill.
Start with two pieces of scrap wire, cleaned and flush-cut on both ends. For this tutorial, I cut about four inches of 14ga copper wire and about six inches of 20ga copper wire; both wires are round and dead-soft:
Bend the finer gauge wire in half to prepare it for wrapping onto the thicker wire:
Place the 20ga wire piece onto the 14ga wire piece, and you're ready to start wrapping:
Take the wire that is bent toward you, and bring it into your hand to keep it out of the way. Meanwhile, bend the other wire half in an L-shaped hand crank, which will make it easier to coil-wrap:
Wrap the 20ga wire one time around the 14ga wire. Notice that the wrap is nice and straight, not at an angle:
Continue wrapping the wire several times, but if you're new to coiling wire, I advise you to wrap each coil individually and stop between the coils to ensure that they're evenly wrapped with no gaps. As they say, we want "little marching soldiers, no drunken sailors" in wire coiling:
Coiling wire can be very hard on your hands, especially if you're new to it. If your fingers are hurting, one thing that can help is a small 2-inch square of rubber shelf liner from the grocery store:
Fold the shelf liner in half, and then place the folded liner on the coil you've begun. Holding the coil inside the shelf liner with your left hand, continue coiling the wire until you reach the end:
Once you've coiled all the wire to the end, use chain-nose pliers to press down the wire end. Finish by running your fingertip over the coiled wire end to ensure that there is no jagged or uncomfortable bit of wire hanging out that could snag on your clothing if used in a piece of jewelry:
It's now time to coil the other half of the 20ga wire. Run the wire coil to the opposite end of the 14ga wire, wrap the coiled wire with shelf liner, and unwrap the wire coil a couple of times:
Re-wrap and then continue wrapping as before. Use chain-nose or flat-nose pliers to press down the wire end:
And that's it!
Tip: It's really important that you're able to move the coil up and down on the heavier gauge wire; this is easier when there is a big difference between the two gauges. For example, coiling 24ga wire onto 22ga wire would be challenging because the two wires are similar in gauge. The wrapping wire seems to bite into the surface of the base wire, and it can be difficult to move it later. But coiling 20ga wire onto 14ga wire is easy because there is such a big difference between the two gauges.
You'll find this out for yourself with practice!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Many more wire jewelry techniques and projects are found in my instructional DVDs and eBooks, including Arty JewelryArty Jewelry IIArty Jewelry III, and Arty Jewelry IV. I also offer day classes in jewelry stores in the Southern California area, and I teach my techniques during Wild Wire Women retreatsheld in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California.
Happy wrapping,

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