Posts Tagged ‘copper wire jewelry’

Three Great Ways to Incorporate Swirls into your Jewelry

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011


Swirly Curly Jewelry!

For as long as I can remember I have loved making swirly curly-Q designs. In middle school, my favorite pee-chee folders were covered in them. Well I’ve grown out of my doodling habits, mostly, but I still love those swirls! Unwilling to give up on swirls altogether I have found three great ways to incorporate them into your jewelry with the help of a little wire. Adding a simple curly-Q can take any design idea from ordinary to whimsical! You can make your swirls free form using pliers or try this great Spiral Maker to eliminate marks from pliers!

All of these projects can be made using your basic tools and 18, 20 or 22 gauge wire. The tools here are a from a fabulous mini tool set that I keep at my desk. The set is only $12 and includes these three tools plus tweezers and a mini bead board!

1. Swirly Head Pins

The first and easiest way to add some swirl power to your jewelry is to make curly-ended headpins. Making your own headpins out of wire is easy and gives your jewelry an even more hand-crafted look. I recommend using either 18, 20 or 22 gauge wire.  (18 being the thickest, 22 being the thinnest) Keep in mind the size of beads you plan to use. If your beads have smaller holes, you will need thinner wire.

Use your Round Nose Pliers to Start the Loop

Use your chain nose pliers to create the swirl

Make a right angle with your chain nose pliers so that your head pins have nice perpendicular look at the end.

Completed head pins ready for use!

Finished jewelry made using swirly head pins. Both earrings have been antiqued to emphasize the swirl design.

2.  Swirly Post Earrings

Making your own swirly post earring findings is actually quite simple.  I personally like to use 18 gauge for sturdiness, though standard earring wires are not usually that thick.  Most earring findings are no thicker than a 20 gauge. It’s up to you, though know if you do use 18 gauge, you will probably have to use a rubber earring back as most metal nuts won’t fit that thick of wire.

Use a piece of wire about 2 inches long. Make a 90 degree bend in the wire at about 3/4 inch

Make a loop where you bent the wire.

Using your chain nose pliers, build the swirl like you did with the head pins.

You can see the earring being formed. The post that goes into your ear is coming from the center of the loop.

Make a loop to complete your Swirly Earring Post. Also, make sure the ends of the post are smooth. You can do this with either a metal file or a cup bur.


To finish, I used Liver of Sulfer to give the earring wires a patina, then buffed them with steel wool. To prevent your ears from turning green seal the post with a little Renaissance Wax or clear nail polish.


Two completed earring designs using Swirly Earring Post!

3. Egyptian Coils!

Now that you have mastered head pins and earring post, you can move onto the ultimate swirly design, the coveted Egyptian Coil! This design feature multiple swirls and looks so pretty at the top of dangly earrings or as an entire bracelet.

Start by making two-sided swirls. Make sure that they are all the same size.

Bend the wire in the center using your round nose pliers.

Use your chain nose pliers to flatten links like so. Don't be alarmed, it is supposed to look kind of phallic at this point.

Use your round nose pliers to bend the loop back. You now have links!

Connect links to make a chain

View of links from the back

Finished Earrings using Egyptian Coils

Well I hope you enjoyed my swirly blog post and are now inspired to try out some of these ideas. For all of these earrings I used bare copper wire and then oxidized the wire to antique it. I then buffed the designs with steel wool to expose the bright copper. I highly recommend doing this with your swirl designs because is really makes those curly-Q’s stand out.

~~Tiffany in the Showroom

Feel free to ask me any questions about how I did anything or what materials I used for all the designs.



How to make copper bangle bracelets with large hole beads

Friday, July 1st, 2011
stamped metal bracelet

One of Sondra's bracelets from Bead & Button 2011.

Hello, bloglandia! Our sales manager, Sondra, was fortunate enough to attend Tracy Stanley’s “Bangles with a Message” class at Bead & Button last month. We’ve been oohing and ahhing over her wristful of chunky metal, so yesterday we got together and made some of our own bracelets.

For a sturdy yet slightly flexible bracelet base, we used 14 gauge copper wire. Start with about 10-11″ of wire. Simply form a large loop on one end with round nose pliers and hammer slightly. Slide on lots of large hole beads: 14 gauge wire is about 1.63mm, so your beads need to have holes that are at least 1.7mm big. Anything marketed as a Pandora or European-style bead will easily fit.

bangle bracelets made from copper wire

Mixed-metal mania bracelets are fun to wear en masse!

We mostly used metal, but trade beads, furnace glass and crystal all look great too. TierraCast has some especially interesting large hole metal beads. We all seemed to gravitate towards the rivet, divot and twist styles. You can also add coils of wire as decoration beneath floating beads, or as stoppers between beads. Shape the wire into a bracelet shape around your wrist and finish with another loop.

You can connect the two end loops together directly, connect them with jump rings or add a jewelry clasp. It is better to err on the small side, since a too-small bracelet can be extended with a jump ring or two, while a too-large bracelet will just go flying off your wrist!

Lindsey used a few jump rings to make her bangle fit her wrist - and a rooster to make it fit her personality!

A giant lobster clasp is easy to open/close.

A couple of other bracelet-making tips:

  • Patina your wire, decorative coils and other components before assembling your bracelet.
  • Be sure to
    file down any sharp wire points or metal edges.
  • Have a whole bunch of beads ready, because once you start, you’ll want to make a bunch!

Metal, metal and more metal!

Check out Tracy’s teaching schedule if you’re interested in learning how she makes stamped word charms to fit on bangles. Our new brass and copper strips will save you a lot of sawing and cutting time!