Lexi's Still in Wub With Her Wubbers, Here's Why! Plus: Now They're in the JMD Shop!
by Lexi Erickson
If you remember, about a year ago, I wrote about falling in love with my new Wubbers jumbo round mandrel pliers, and I showed you a pair of hoop earrings I had made with them. I hoped that Patti Bullard, the owner and developer of Wubbers, would ask me to write a tutorial for the newly developing Wubbers University, her dream of a free online school for jewelry artists. Well, I was tremendously honored when, a few weeks later, Patti asked me to be the President of Wubbers University. OH WOW!
Aside from the standard pliers we all use–chain, flat and round nose–Wubbers also has a large variety of mandrel pliers, and they do a great job on rings, earrings, bracelets, and making really cool shapes. If you follow my projects in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, you know that I passionately love using flat wire. It can be difficult to find; I get my flat wire from Santa Fe Jewelry Supply. I like the 2x4mm sterling silver flat wire, but it is difficult to bend with your fingers, so I use my Wubbers round and oval mandrel pliers to gently bend that stubborn wire into shape.
This piece uses a dino bone cab and a cab of Damascus steel, made by master knifemaker Jerry McClure. It's so much easier than hammering and fitting and hammering and fitting . . . for hours. It was easier to bend the wire to match the cabs, which are slightly parted to show the torn silver, which is carefully measured, then sawn, bent forward with pliers, and burnished to make the tear show off better.
Reminiscent of my piece on the July 2012 cover of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, (there's a step-by-step in that issue), that original piece took three people to produce: Jerry, who made the Damascus steel, Lew Wackler, who cut the dino bone cab, and me, who put it all together. The unknown factor of that piece is that it took me almost two hours to get the flat wire to fit around the two cabs with my fingers, plus repeated annealing of the wire. I was pretty well in the process of losing my religion over that one!
With the Wubbers pliers, it didn't take me nearly that long to bend the wire. But while working with the wire, I decided that it would make some great bracelets, so I made a tutorial for Wubbers U showing how to make bangle bracelets and how to texture them using the Fretz #12 hammer.
Use your creativity and make earrings, too, which are just smaller versions of the bracelet, but this time I bent the wire around the Wubbers jumbo oval mandrel pliers. Then you have fantastic hoop earrings that, if patinated, look casual for a Sunday picnic but, if highly polished, are stunning for an evening at the symphony!
Today my favorite Wubbers are the jumbo square mandrel pliers, and I used them to make this ring. I hope you realize your fingers are really square, so why do we have so many round rings? (You're taking a good look at your fingers now, aren't you?)
The jumbo square mandrel pliers are perfect for making rings. After soldering the 2mm flat wire closed with hard solder, I hammered it with a rawhide hammer around the larger size of the Wubbers. (Yes, Wubbers have a lifetime guarantee and I hammer on mine with a rawhide mallet.) That squared it up nicely and now it fits my finger. Then I gently textured it again with my favorite Mr. Fretz #12.
So see how versatile that one simple piece of 2×4 mm flat wire can be? (And look how many widths in comes in!) With a couple feet of flat wire, a couple Wubbers mandrel piers, a favorite Fretz hammer . . . oh wow! Life just doesn't get any better.
Well, I could stay forever in my studio, but I must run; it's Monday night as I write this and Castle is coming on, and he's HOT! A cup of tea, a box of Thin Mints, and Richard Castle . . . oh wow! It's almost as good as my Wubbers, Fretz hammers, and flat wire . . . Oh Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
Santa Fe Jewelry Supply www.sfjssantafe.com
Jerry McClure knives www.jmcclureknives.net
Fretz hammers www.fretzdesign.com
Lew Wackler gemstones www.lewwackler.com