Rings vs Bracelets: Make Easy Jewelry with Patterned Wire Strips
|I love the simplicity of this bangle bracelet with a little surprise. It's two pieces of patterned wire subtly combined in one bangle. Photo: Cool Tools.|
I was supposed to be writing about bracelets today, so I spent yesterday in the studio making bracelets–rather, I spent yesterday in the studio intending to make bracelets.
Whenever the weather is warm, I start thinking about bracelets and proclaim it "bracelet season," when short sleeves make it the perfect time to show off bold cuffs, jingling charm bracelets, trendy leather wraps, and stacks of bangles. Plus, as Merle White (editorial director of Interweave's jewelry group) pointed out, bracelets are one type of jewelry (along with rings) that you can actually see on yourself and enjoy while you're wearing them.
That's why I was supposed to be in the studio making bracelets.
But what I actually made was more than half a dozen rings and parts of some bracelets. My indecision kicked in and I couldn't decide how to finish the bracelets, but I had no trouble making ring after ring after ring . . . .
When I saw the patterned wire strips from Cool Tools, my mind ran away with ideas of how to use all those gorgeous designs in bracelets. They're my favorite new jewelry-making supply, available in sterling, copper, and brass, in a wide variety of widths and design styles and thicknesses. I was instantly full of ideas for using them. Bangles and cuffs came to mind for the thick, heavier-gauge narrow patterned wire strips and the wide filigree pieces as well. I envisioned them formed into cuffs (with just a little filing to finish the ends), soldered into stacks and stacks of unique bangles, or used to accent the strappy leather bracelets that are so in fashion lately. The pretty lacy, lattice, and filigree ones are ideal for layering into other (solid) metals or leather cuffs and connecting with rivets or other cold connections. I could go on and on!
But instead of making all those bracelets, I made rings. Let me rephrase that: I made a bunch of rings, in just a few minutes. Patterned stack rings, wide cigar-band-style filigree rings, girl rings and boy rings, thin delicate bands and thick bold bands, even a silver ring with a fancy copper bezel for a prized piece of light green Roman glass–it was so easy, I couldn't stop making rings. Just measure, cut, and file; then shape, solder, and reshape, and voila! I turned short pieces of so many of the different patterned wires into rings, lickety split. I kept thinking to myself that it would be a great lesson for soldering practice, filing all those joints perfectly straight so they'd fit perfectly well. And since I used silver, copper, and brass, it was good practice in soldering mixed and alternative metals as well.
As fun as all those rings are, they aren't bracelets. So I was hoping you could help me finish the bracelet(s). I was fiddling with two pretty pieces of the widest patterned wire; I trimmed them to about half-cuff length, formed them into a nice bracelet-like arc (I don't have a bracelet mandrel but I do have a steel individual-size thermos that worked just perfectly), and filed the ends smooth. And then . . . what?
I planned to make a two-piece "reversible" hinged bracelet, so that either the copper lattice or the brass filigree could be on the front, depending on mood. I made a loop on one end of the brass piece, planning to incorporate a leather "hinge pin" in it with knots on each end . . . but then I changed my mind. I thought about using jump rings to connect them or even "sewing" them together with wire instead, but I can't decide on that either.
Clearly, I need your help! How would you use these two pieces? In a two-sided hinged bracelet or individually? Over another metal, or leather, or on their own? I'd love to hear in the comments below.
When you start with supplies that are as varied and unique as these cool patterned wire strips are, your ring- and bracelet-making projects can be as involved and complicated as you want them to be–or super quick and easy, when that's what you're in the mood to make. They've done most of the hard, labor-intensive stuff for you!