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Building a Better Bracelet

This is part 2 of a 2-part article. Part 1 is in The Muse too.


The pearl bracelet above was made using similar techniques but I substituted an ample supply of headpins for the wire. Place a pearl bead on a headpin, bend the headpin a few millimeters above the pearl, slip the bent headpin through a bracelet link and proceed with the wrapping as shown in figure 2.

In the first part of this article I taught you how to make adorable 1Ē copper charms. Iím sure youíve made several by now and youíre wondering what to do with them.  OK, youíre right, they do take a lot of time, but arenít they fun?

This project was born from my practical desire for a secure bracelet without the long-term commitment of soldering a hundred jump rings. Working with copper can present some interesting challenges when looking for a clasp, wire attachments, chain, etc. My solution was to make each component myself, except for the chain, and to build security into each step.

Listed are the exact materials I used to make my bracelet but you can substitute so many things and using different wire gauges and chain sizes affects the look of the bracelet in surprising ways. Putting just a few beads on your bracelet makes it look like stars cast across the night sky. One caveat about using varied beads; they often have different sized holes and the hole to wire gauge ratio is critical to prevent the bead from falling off the finding.  From elegant pearls to funky chunky turquoise, any style is possible and youíll feel comfortable that youíll never lose your bracelet or the beads.

Click any image to see if there is a larger view.

Materials

Purchased Copper Chain

14 Gauge Copper Wire

20 Gauge Copper Wire

4 mm Round Onyx Beads

Fabricated Metal Charms
(how-to article)

1 Purchased or Fabricated Split Ring

Tools

Roundnose Pliers

Flatnose Pliers

Flush Cutters

Hammer

Bench Block

Needle Files

Attaching Charms and Beads

At first your findings may be crude but this is an excellent piece for practicing consistent and elegant wirework. On the other hand, one artistís crude may be another artistís funky. The important thing is to gain control over which result you get. As you work youíll get a feeling for when best to reposition your pliers for more efficient movements and where to place your wire on the pliersí tips in relation to the chain. Iíve found that this bracelet doesnít take long when you use a production line method, for instance cutting all the wire at once, and then making the findings exactly the same way each time.

An old trick I learned from doing chain maille is to save hand motions by holding both my flatnose (dominant hand) and my roundnose pliers (non-dominant hand) at the same time. I even go to the extreme of not putting my pliers down when using the nippers. It takes some practice to hold 3 pairs of pliers at the same time but it makes the work go faster.

  • Cut several pieces of 20 gauge wire to 1Ē.
  • Bend one piece in half using the roundnose pliers.
  • Slip the wire to the midway point through one of the links in the chain (see figure 1).
  • Slip 1 tip of the roundnose pliers through the bend in the wire, adjacent to the chain (see figure 2).
  • Use the roundnose pliers to tightly wrap one leg of the wire around the other leg, close to the pliers. Use at least 2 full twists. Youíll find that keeping the wire parallel to the pliers makes it much easier to wrap. Itís a lot easier to have a slightly long piece of wire and trim some off than it is to struggle with a short piece.
  • Use the flush cutters to cut the wire tail off very close to the upright leg.
  • Place the bead on the upright leg of the wire.
  • If necessary, trim the wire to about 1/16Ē beyond the bead (see figure 3).
  • Use the flatnose pliers to squeeze the end of the wire and then test it to insure that the bead cannot pass over it. If the paddle youíve made is sharp, rub it a little with a piece of 400 grit sandpaper.
  • Repeat with remaining wire and beads until your bracelet has the look you want.


The beads and findings are built right onto this bracelet, making it strong and good looking.


Wrap the wire around the tip of the roundnose pliers.


Unless the wire gauge wasn't big enough, there's no way an unbroken bead can fall off.

Clasp

  • Start with a piece of 14 gauge wire and use the samples in the sidebar ĎAnatomy of a Great Claspí (click image for larger view). All the hints Iíve given in the drawings will make your clasp secure and beautiful.
  • Use needle files to clean up any jagged edges. Use roundnose pliers to turn the wire. Note: All pliers are not created equal. For 14 gauge wire, even copper, youíll need very good quality pliers.
  • Use a split ring to attach the clasp to your bracelet.
 


Issue # 12

Christine Cox was a regular contributor to ARTitude Zine. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted here with permission. Unfortunately ARTitude is no longer published.


Christine Cox teaches metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano, CA.