Take the Curvy Road: Adding Interest to Jewelry Designs with Curves, Spiral, and Swirls

I'm a road tripper. I love putting the top down and taking off in my car (her name is Violet) with the wind blowing on my face. And my favorite roads? Definitely the curvy ones.


Curves are just more interesting–in roads, in nature, in any kind of design, and even (I've always thought) in hair. Don't get me started on perm stories from high school. Shiver.

When I'm making jewelry, straight lines are never as fun to create as curvy ones. Whether I'm dapping a circle of metal into a dome (hemisphere), coiling or spiraling a wire, or even cutting out metal shapes, I always prefer curves–loops, circles, coils, swirls–over straight. I think they add a sense of movement, of fun, of freedom, of interest to any design.

Get the spiral sawing template here.

It doesn't take a lot of tools to create interesting curvy shapes for jewelry, either. Just by cleverly using pliers, you can create coiled, spiral shapes with wire and metal to add interest and movement to any of your jewelry designs–earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, even unique one-of-a-kind handmade chain. You can also form curved shapes using hammers and some mandrel form or stake underneath, or by using draw plates to make tubes. And of course, you can saw spirals and curved shapes from metal sheet.

Here are some basic, easy-to-make curvy shapes for jewelry making. 


Spirals and swirls: Rolling wire into a spiral turns a long, straight, skinny, sometimes boring material into a substantial, curvy, more interesting jewelry design element with depth and dimension. Form the wire into a pointed spiral and you have a leaf; roll into a multi-layered spiral and you have a rose like these shown here; or wire together about five spirals and you have flower petals. Spirals turn flat wire into metal shapes and three-dimensional design elements. (Those are Cindy Wimmer's Spiral Roses from Easy Wire 2010.)

Serpentines: Curled, fluted metal is such an interesting dichotomy, because it gives something hard, solid, and concrete like metal the look and feel of something soft, fluid, and pretty like curled ribbon or fabric. Working metal into this shape will harden it considerably as you go, too, adding to the incongruity of the shape. It will look fragile but it's actually quite hard (unless you anneal the metal to soften it again).

Vines & tendrils: I love the whimsical look of ball-end head pins coiled into vines, flower stamens, or tendrils, especially when layered with flowers like this enameled floral cascade necklace on the cover of Barbara Lewis's Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry. I imagine making a gazillion of them with a single loop in the center, enameling each tip in different colors, and stringing them onto a bangle bracelet.

Coils: In her new coiled-wire video workshop, Wire Coiling Secrets with Kerry Bogert, Kerry shares that she uses wire coils in almost every jewelry project she makes, because wire coils make the bare core (inner) wire more substantial. They also help add texture, depth, and interest to your wire jewelry designs.


Unique one-of-a-kind chain: Put a bunch of any of the above together and you have unique wire chain! Whether you coil wire onto loops, twist it into wild little vines or tornado beads, connect long paddle pieces with rivets or jump rings, or hammer regular loops, if you put a bunch of them together, you have truly one-of-a-kind and eye-catching chain.

In Helen Driggs' new metalsmithing video tutorial, she explores various approaches to making spirals and coils, curves and swirls using wire and metal. You won't believe how much fun and interest these simple shapes can add to your jewelry designs–and how easy they are to achieve. Pre-order or instantly download Create Spirals, Tubes, and Other Curves for Jewelry Making and get started making more interesting jewelry. And then you can take a little road trip! 

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