Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rings on your fingers--an odyssey in wire wrapping

Several of my repeat customers have been asking me whether or not I could make rings for them, so several weeks ago I began a journey to learn how to make wire wrapped rings.  The price of sterling silver and gold has been rising, so I resolved to only work in sterling plated and copper wire until I felt that my skills were sufficient that I wouldn't be throwing money away on wasted wire.

My first five rings are pictured here from left to right.  The first two rings are exactly the same pattern, executed differently.  I had trouble on the first ring getting the silver wires to drape in a pleasing manner, so on the second ring, I decided to change the direction of the drape and just wrap them around the turquoise focal bead. 
 I had some issues with the wire wraps around the backs and sides of the rings, but by ring number three, the wraps were becoming much more uniform.  Ring number three was a different design and I used the basic instructions for both of these rings out of the Dale Armstrong book Wirework.  This book is amazing, and I would love to take a workshop with Dale some day, because her instructions are very clear and easy for anyone of any skill level to follow.  Here is the front of ring number three:  
 None of these rings look like Dale's versions.  There are similarities, but once I get the basic ring constructed, I like to play with the embellishments.  By the time I finished Ring #3, I felt that progress was being made and promised myself that after Ring #10, I would begin to work in sterling, and this inspired me to continue the quest for better wire wrapping skills and more ring designs. 
The next ring I decided to tackle was inspired by a design by Jodi Bombardier in her book Weave, Wrap, Coil.  It is an intermediate design entitled "all coiled up", and I decided to execute the entire ring in copper with a turquoise focal bead.  Jodi's design called for bead caps, but since I didn't have any bead caps that would complement the copper, I decided to add two jet rondelle beads as accents instead.  Jodi's ring had coiled and uncoiled wraps around the top, bottom and sides of the focal bead.  I decided that my ring would look better if I spiralled the ends of the wires with twisted wire rosettes at the very tips and left netative space to show off the jet rondelles.  This ring was a larger scale than the three previous rings, because I worked it in 18 gauge square wire wrapped in 18 gauge half round. 

Ring number five was more of a challenge.  It was the same basic design, but I decided to use a silver core wire and twist the last two inches for an embellishment.  I just couldn't get it to lay on the ring in a pleasing manner and ended up wrapping the silver ends around the individual beads.  This would have worked out better if I had decided to wrap the twisted wire before I had to unwind my preliminary rosette design, which mottled the twisted wire effect somewhat.  The back of the ring was marred when I decided to hammer the wire wraps to enlarge the size of the ring.  I should have used my rubber mallet and not my chasing hammer.  Some of the wraps were damaged, so I learned the importance of having the right tool for the job.  At this point, I was happy to be working in practice wire!  On to rings six through ten!
Ring six was designed from the Four Bead Ring that I found at and the artist was Alice Turner.  This is a great site for wire jewelry lessons from the no longer published Wire Jewelry Artist magazine.  I didn't actually buy this tutorial, because I started looking at the design and decided that I might just be able to figure out the wire wrap.  So this is my version and might not be exactly the same as the design in the tutorial.  It was an easy ring design and the only difficult part was deciding on when to add the beads.  I didn't wrap the back of the ring shank, so the four bands of wire are clearly visible. 

Ring seven is a variation of the simple ring design that seems to be available everywhere on the internetLytha Studios.
Ring eight is the same basic ring, but with three round faceted garnet beads and no shank wrap.
I did enjoy these simple rings a lot, as there is a lot of room for creativity and they are simple and fast to make.

For Ring nine I wanted to try something a little more challenging, so I did a lot of searching around on the internet and found a wonderful free tutorial at Wire Jewelry  Preston Reuther is a wonderful teacher and I will probably sign up for his courses in the near future.  If his video could get me through this very intricate ring design with very few hiccups, I can hardly wait to see what the rest of his lessons are like:

And so on to Ring ten.  For this ring I decided to make a dainty piece of jewelry that my Mom might like to wear, so I selected a freshwater pearl that had tones of black, green blue, etc. and to use the simple ring design so that the spotlight is on the pearl.  It probably helped that this was the third time that I made a variation of this one design, and the result was a very pretty ring that my Mom tried on and decided was hers as soon as she saw it!

Next stop:  sterling silver rings!  I am so happy that I bought some sterling square wire this summer for some bracelet sales that didn't materialize, because now it can all turn into ring creations!


  1. I just could have never thought that sterling silver can be used to make such wonders. These rings are just awesome. I must congratulate the designer for her imagination and creativity.
    vintage wedding band