If you love wire jewelry, the Fisherman's Cuff is for you! It's all about wire.
I used 6ga copper round wire for the base (8ga could be substituted), and then wrapped it with dead-soft sterling silver wire in finer gauges. Coiling and double-coiling, knotless netting, and artificially aging your finished cuff will result in a spectacular piece of substantial jewelry that you'll love to wear.
Tools & Materials:
measuring tape, about six to eight inches of 6ga (or 8ga) round wire (the length depends on your wrist size), five feet of 22ga round wire, three feet of 20ga round wire, 10 feet of 18ga round wire (all wire is dead-soft), bracelet mandrel, heavy hammer, jeweler's saw with blades, jewelry files or sanding papers, chain-nose pliers, liver of sulfur, 0000 (super-fine) steel wool
Begin by measuring your wrist with a measuring tape to determine the approximate size of your cuff. Add to this measurement about one inch for a slight overlap. To cut 6ga or 8ga copper wire for the base of your bangle, be sure to use a jeweler's saw.
Tip: If the 6ga or 8ga round wire you use is from the hardware store (a great source of heavy-gauge copper wire), it's probably work-hardened and needs to be annealed with a torch before use. Quench, pickle, rinse and clean the wire as usual. Then wrap it around a bracelet mandrel at your chosen placement, and hammer down the ends firmly. Use a heavy hammer for this; it needn't be a jewelry hammer. I used an old beat-up hammer from the garage, and it worked just great for the rough look I was aiming for:
The wire ends will be jagged, so use a good-quality file or sanding papers to smooth them. Set aside the cuff for now:
Pick up the 22ga wire and coil the entire five feet of it around the three feet of 20ga wire. You can use copper wire instead of sterling silver, but I really like the look of the silver wire contrasting with the copper base wire. This is up to you. Be sure to coil tightly, with no gaps or overwraps!
Once the entire length of 22ga wire has been coiled, bring the coil to the center of the 20ga wire so that you have an equal amount of 20ga wire protruding from each end of the coil. Bend the coiled wire in half:
Place the coiled wire onto the 18ga wire, and begin coiling it from the center out. At first, you'll be double-coiling the already coiled wire onto the 18ga wire, but after a few wraps you'll run out of the coiled wire and simply continue wrapping the bare 20ga wire onto the 18ga wire:
When finished coiling, use chain-nose (or bent chain-nose) Classic Wubbers pliers to gently press down the wire ends. This is important, because it keeps the wire end from scratching you or snagging your clothing.
Slide the coiled/double-coiled wire to the very center of the 18ga wire:
Now you're ready to wrap the coiled wire onto the heavy-gauge (6ga or 8ga) copper wire cuff. Wrap firmly, working from the center of the double-coiled wire out to each end of the coiled wire:
When you run out of coiled wire, wrap the bare 18ga wire around the copper cuff just one time. You should have several feet of 18ga wire on each end to work with, which will be used to create knotless netting on the copper cuff.
Begin by bringing one wire end up, and then point it downward and underneath the 18ga wire right next to the coil as indicated in the following photo:
Pull the loop close and tight, using chain-nose pliers to assist in the pulling if necessary. You should have a fairly small loop on the wire as shown:
Continue looping the wire as described above, all the way around the circumference of the copper wire. When you reach the area of previously looped wire, run your wire end down into each loop and pull it closed.
Tip: If you have trouble pulling your loops tight, use chain-nose pliers to assist in this. Personally, I prefer to use the Classic Wubbers chain-nose pliers. The bent chain-nose works really well for pulling wire without breaking it:
Continue looping (or knotting) your wire in a random pattern down the copper wire base, until there's just about half an inch of copper wire remaining. Snip off any excess silver wire and spiral it in with the tips of the chain-nose pliers:
Repeat all of these steps with the other half of the 18ga wire, until the entire cuff bracelet is coiled and covered with knotless netting as shown:
As an option, you can artificially age your Fisherman's Cuff using liver of sulfur (LOS) and hot water. Use either the chip form dissolved in hot water, or paint on the liquid gel using an old paintbrush. I place my jewelry in an old plastic container and then brush on the gel to avoid staining my work surface:
Sometimes the gel won't darken all the surfaces quickly enough. In this case, pour a small amount of hot water over the bangle and you should see a darkening reaction right away:
Remove the jewelry, rinse it thoroughly, and dry it with a clean towel:
Polish the "high points" of the silver wire using 0000 (super-fine) steel wool or a polishing pad. If you use steel wool, once finished be sure to scrub the jewelry clean with a brass brush and a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove grease and dirt. As an alternative, you can use a jewelry tumbler with water, and tumble the bangle for an hour or so.
Again, you'll need to rinse and dry it before wearing your jewelry:
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Many more wire jewelry techniques and projects are found in my instructional DVDs and eBooks, including Arty Jewelry, Arty Jewelry II, Arty Jewelry III, and Arty Jewelry IV. If you would like live instruction on jewelry making techniques, I offer day classes at some jewelry stores in the Southern California area. I also teach my techniques during Wild Wire Women retreats held in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California.