Friday, January 11, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Spiraling Wire for Jewelry

Take a close look at the picture above and compare it to the two that follow it below....
What do these three jewelry pieces have in common? The first is a bracelet (from Ethnic Style Jewelry), the next is a pair of Winged Things earrings (from Arty Jewelry IV), and the final one is a spiral-top pin.
So far, not much in common, right? Perhaps you've picked up on it, though. All three jewelry pieces are different, but they all have one thing in common: Spirals! Lots and lots of spirals. The earrings alone have 12 spirals, if you count the tiny ones on the French-style earrings (admittedly, these are hard to see in the picture above).
The Spiral Top pin (from Arty Jewelry III) sports just one spiral, but it's an important one, for it anchors the pin both functionally and decoratively. Spirals have been used in jewelry and other art forms for so many centuries, it's impossible to say who invented them first. The spiral as a symbol is universal and rich with meaning; as a design motif, it's beautifully balanced.
Spirals obviously lead the eye to the center, so it's really important for a jewelry artist to make spirals with tight "belly buttons" (as I call them). Some spirals are finished tight, others loose and open; most are round, but some spirals become oblong, oval-shaped, or take on other shapes.
Nevertheless, beautiful spirals all start with a tight, tiny bud in the center. What you do with your spiral from there is up to you, and I think you'll agree that the possibilities are practically without limit.
After carefully cleaning your wire, flush-cut a length of about six inches. If you’re making a spiral with wire in gauges 18 and heavier, start by hammering the end just a bit with a chasing or planishing hammer. This thins down the wire a little bit, allowing you to bend it in a tight circle with small round-nose pliers. If making a spiral with 20ga wire and finer, there is no need to hammer it first.

Grasp the hammered wire end near the tips of the small round-nose pliers, and bend a very tiny loop in the wire. If the loop is still too big, gently close it in the tips of chain-nose pliers:
To spiral the wire, place it in the back of either chain-nose or flat-nose pliers with the beginning spiral facing away from you. Place your thumb against the spiral and bend the wire using the tool. Bending tiny amounts at a time will render a tight spiral:
To turn your spiral into a headpin, simply bend the remaining wire straight up out of it as shown, so that it resembles a lollipop:
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 II,Arty 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 retreats held in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California.
Happy wrapping,


somethingunique said...

Thanks for the tutorials ....sure hope they take PayPal soon for the ebooks and stuff...I'd love to purchase but don't have a CC....

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