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Hammered Wire Jewelry: Coiled Rings

June 13, 2011

Earrings and bracelets are my favourite jewelcrafting projects… From time to time, however, I experiment doing something different… like a pendant or, in this case, RINGS. Again, starting from copper wire and with basic tools it is possible to craft simple rings like the ones shown here. The peculiar element of these rings is the coil: the entire shape of the ring is obtained by just bending a single wire… simple but elegant. More advanced rings, with one or multiple interwowen wires, are also possible, but much more difficult to craft.

       

Since it is impossible to bend a perfectly round coil with just your hand/pliers, it is necessary to use a hard object with the desired shape . this process generally goes under te name of forming. The same strategy is used to obtain, for example, rigid bracelets. There are available on the web (and craft stores) different graduated/stepped mandrels for ring forming (in plastic, metal or wood). These tools are, again, useful only if seriously interested in metalworking, for doing large batches of exact-mearure rings. When experimenting or for custom sizes, it is possible to use other objects for forming: for example, a piece of metal tube. I chose a quite heavy metal tube, since it is necessary to hammer the wire against it.

Again I used a two-step hammering process discussed in the last post. Firstly, I flattened a bit the wire for stiffness and better handling. Then, I slowly rolled the wire around the tube, keeping the flat part against the surface. After obtaining the required amount of coil (one or more loop), it is time for a second hammering (to fix the shape). The idea is to hammer the wire against the tube, possibly, holding the tube where the wire is coiled against the anvil surface (as shown in the next figure). In this way, the wire will be flattened between the anvil, the tube and the beating hammer. While hammering, turn the tube around its axis  in order to work evenly on the whole coil. Hammering in this way, the coil will unwind a bit… this is normal… after a few hit, correct the deviation with pliers.

After the main coil has been hammered until the shape is stable, it is time to work on the wire ends. To surround the central coil, the wire ends are bent to form spirals and geometrical shapes. If these non-coiled parts of the ring are small (like in the top part of the first example), it is possible to bend the wire simply making flat bends. On the other hand, if the non-coil decoration is large, it is also necessary to make it slightly curved a little in order to make it more conformal to the shape of the finger (as visible in the third example). This is done, again, using the tube. The idea is to do a simple flat bend, and then, when the bended shape of the terminal wire is complete, gently hammer it against the tube to curve it with the same radius of the ring. If it is possible to do the first flat bends when the coil is still on the tube, the better… Otherwise, remove the coil from the tube, bend the ends of the wire, put it back on the tube and proceed with the last hammering.

Bear in mind that, even if the coil has been laid out perfectly tight, it will unwind a little when taken away from the tube. A bit of twisting & bending will probably be necessary to correct this problem.

When choosing the shape of the ring, I do prefer when the spires are not touching each other, but a tighter fit may also look good.

Obviously, it may be difficult to find the exact tube diameter… however, since the central part of the ring is just a coil, a small correction is possible by carefully prying the coil a bit more open or a bit more closed.

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