Friday, October 25, 2013

How to make a Wire Spiral Charm

This is the second article showing a glimpse at how I work. Last Friday I showed how to temper or harden wire with a rubber hammer.  Today I'd like to show how to make a wire spiral charm.
modern Celtic street art, Dublin city
Spirals, triskeles and concentric circles are among the oldest design motifs known to us. They are found in ancient artwork in diverse corners of the world, and are intrinsically associated with the Celts in particular. Famously, they are a key feature seen at the megalithic tombs of Newgrange, Ireland. Over 5000 years old, the burial chambers predate the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge in the UK.

Born and bred in Ireland and proud of our rich heritage, I like to use the spiral frequently in my jewelry. Making spiral charms is a simple pleasure and here is how it's done:

You need some jewelry wire or plated craft wire, a round nose pliers, a flat nose or chain nose pliers and side cutters. Unless using fairly hard wire (eg. 16g), I would usually also temper, or harden, the charm with a rubber hammer and steel block.

Grip the wire as close as you can get to the end using the tips of the round nose pliers. If the edge of the wire is jagged, nip it cleanly with the side cutter. In one smooth movement, roll the wire back on itself, towards your body to create the centre of the spiral. There are other techniques I use to format the centre, e.g., a looser, wider circle or tighter wire work with no centre hole at all, but this is an nice easy one to start with. I also chose to use a medium-sized centre loop here as I am later going to widen and bevel the charm with a special finish.

Gently but firmly grip the loop you've created with the chain nose or flat nose pliers so that half of the loop is in the jaws and the wire is pointing up and out as shown. Careful not to squeeze too hard or you will squish or dent the wire.

With your free hand pull the wire down towards the floor in one smooth movement while still holding the loop in the same starter position. With practice you will do this quicker, enabling a cleaner curve. Shift the work around so the wire is again near the top and pull the wire down again to create the next section of curve. 

Repeat these two movements again until you have created a 3 'banded' spiral. Grip the loose end of the wire with the round nose pliers, close to the end of the jaws but not with the tips this time. In one smooth movement, curve the end back over itself towards the spiral using the curve of the jaws to guide the shape.

Temper (harden) the charm with a rubber hammer. (For instructions please click HERE)

I mentioned at the start that I was going to widen this charm and give it a special finish. I used the flat head of a chasing hammer to flatten and spread the wire.This action moved the centre loop closer to the next band for a cleaner look. I then bevelled the charm by tapping all the way around it using the ball head of the chasing hammer. 

This silver plated charm also got further texturing when I distressed it with a file to let some copper come through the silver. But that is an other episode in its journey, to be told another day....

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To see how to open jump rings the correct way, CLICK HERE. (Also of interest for non-jewelry artists for simple repair works!)

Click HERE for general handy tips from tea-dying lace to making herby ice cubes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Anne-Marie, lovely tips and thank you for sharing. Good to learn something new.