Learn Wire Ring Making and Admire Your Handiwork When You Wear Your Wire Rings!
True, you can never have too many pairs of earrings, but you seldom get to see them on yourself, either. Finger rings, on the other hand — or more aptly on the fingers of either hand — are perfect for catching our own glances and winking back happy little messages of how special we look when wearing them.
Wire Ring Making
Making metal rings with wire is a natural. Even for a wide band, the shank of a ring is at heart a relatively narrow strip of metal — like, for instance, a piece of wire. Although you can create complex rings that require more than wire and basic wire working tools, all you need to start out are wire, cutters, pliers, a way to figure out the size you want, and a mandrel to check that the ring is the size you’ve determined you need. And then, of course, some designs to get cracking on.
We’ve got your covered! For anyone who wants to make wire rings, our Wire Ring Making Kit is just the ticket because it’s loaded with demos, designs, tutorials, tips, and techniques — plus a round ring mandrel that shows you just when you’ve reached anything from a size 1 through a size 15. You’d have to have mighty tiny fingers for them to be smaller than a 1 and mighty big fingers to be bigger than a 15!
But what if one size isn’t enough? It happens, especially if knuckles are very large. Wire designer Bobbi Maw has an answer that is remarkably simple to try. She developed a ring design that includes a simple clasp. Make the ring the size you want, but to get it on and off, just open and close the clasp, same as you’d do for a bracelet or necklace. “Lacy and delicate looking but surprisingly durable, this clasped ring evolved because of a simple need to get a ring on and have it fit comfortably despite enlarged knuckles from arthritis.”
Bobbi also has several alternative ideas to a standard ring sizer for figuring out the size for her clasped ring, and if they work over extra challenging fingers, they’ll work on typical fingers, too. “You could carefully use a piece of string or masking tape folded in half (so it isn’t sticky) and then measure it on a ruler. You could also purchase a cheap plastic ring sizer (with all the sizes a separate loop), and cut the bands open so they will slide over the knuckle to find the ring size you need. And lastly, because of the extra wire at the end of the ring, you can always try the ring on to get an accurate size before you finalize the clasp’s hook.”
Wire Working Basics
Here are Bobbi’s instructions for how to create a basic sherpherd’s hook, starting point for this and many wire wrapping jewelry designs:
“With flat nose pliers, grasp just a tiny bit of the end of the half round wire, with the flat side down.
“Using the pad of your thumb, press the wire around the edge of the pliers to create a small squared hook in the end of the wire. I form hooks in both ends of about a half dozen or so pieces of wire so I’m not constantly having to set my work down to create a new hook.”
Starting with the Shank
Although metalsmith Roger Halas goes beyond wire working in most of his designs, he often starts with wire to make rings. “When making rings, most designers use either round or half-round wire to construct the shank,” he points out. Then he adds this: “That’s all good, but if you want to add diversity to your designs, triangle wire is the perfect alternative. In fact, it can be used not only for the shank, but to create the entire ring — still providing the option to set a stone on top. Best of all, it takes very little time. With some basic planning, triangle wire can yield extraordinary results with clean, sharp angles reminiscent of architectural designs.”
He uses sterling triangle wire to create a short coil of metal that can be coiled more or less tightly to give you a perfect fit, and that open, dynamic structure would make a very cool ring all by itself. But Roger is known for adding lots of interesting detail in clever ways, and in this case he’s set a stone on just the center part of the shank, so that it can be adjusted without disturbing the setting.
Seeing Double: Twin Shank
Here’s one more design idea you should check out. See how cool two wires look when used to create a twin shank for a ring? Kate Richbourg used 12 gauge decorative square wire for this design. “Use hands to wrap the shank around the ring mandrel at the desired size to shape the band. Square wire will work-harden fairly quickly, so you may need to anneal halfway through shaping,” she suggests, good advice when working such heavy gauge wire by hand.
Those are just a few of the designs and tips you’ll find in the latest issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.
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