Ever since I started making wire jewellery, I seem to keep finding random rings everywhere – in drawers, in my bead boxes, in my scrap jars and under the desk; I’m beginning to think that maybe this is becoming a problem! I’m afraid making rings has become something of an addiction for me; whenever I hit a roadblock in another design, or whenever I hit a creative block and can’t think of anything else to make, I make a ring. It’s so simple and therapeutic, I have literally spent whole days making nothing but wire rings; above you can see just a small selection of the many rings I seem to have collected in the last few weeks.
So, what do we do when we have a habit that we just can’t seem to kick? Why, we make a tutorial and get everyone else addicted too! If you’d like to learn how to make one of these beautiful wire rings for yourself, be sure to keep reading after the jump 🙂
So, what will you need to make one of these beautiful rings? Surprisingly, not a lot! You will need;
- 15cm of 18 gauge wire, in any colour
- A short length of either 28g or 26g wire for wrapping
- A pair of round-nose pliers
- A pair of flat-nose pliers
- A pair of wire cutters
- A 4mm accent bead
- A flat and round file
Hopefully you’ll already have all the necessary items somewhere within your stash, so let’s get started making our ring!
- Firstly, measure and cut a piece of 18g wire to 15cm. Straighten it out as best as you can, but don’t worry about being too exact.
- Secondly, grab your round nose pliers, and make a loop in the centre of your wire (see photographs below). Make the loop fairly close to the base of your pliers, so that’s it’s wide enough to fit a 4mm bead inside.
- Once you have a circle in the middle of your wire, spread out the ends of your wire into a v-shape.
- Whilst firmly holding the wire circle in one hand to keep it in shape, use your free hand to wind the two legs of wire fully around each other once, or twice if you’d like a fancier ring. This motion should resemble winding a propeller; grasp the two wires as close as you can to the base of the circle, and twist them clockwise in one smooth motion.
- Once you’ve made the twist in your wire, gently bend the wires back so that they’re fairly straight again. When you’ve finished, your wire should look like the middle photograph (click on the pictures to enlarge them);
- Using your wire cutters, snip the two wire legs so that they’re the same length.
- Here’s where you should file the ends of your wire. This is always an important step, as any sharp ends will make your ring uncomfortable to wear. Start by using a flat file to smooth the end of the wire, then use a circular file to smooth the edges; do keep in mind that, if you’re using plated wire, filing will remove the colour and reveal the copper core, so be sure you don’t over-do it!
- Now you need to find a mandrel to shape your ring on; a proper ring mandrel is obviously the best choice, but if you don’t have one you can always use a lipstick case, the thin top of a nail polish bottle or, in my case, a small tube of beads. A bit of experimentation is probably called for here, but if in doubt, go with a thin bead tube.
- Once you’ve scouted something to use as a mandrel, gently start forming the wire around it, using a pushing motion rather than a pulling one (which is likely to distort the shape of the wire and create unsightly kinks).
- At this point, you have a couple of different options; you can bend the wire all the way around the ring, and bring one leg on either side of your circle; you could choose to wrap both legs on to just one side of the circle or you can overlap (criss-cross) the wire around opposite sides of the circle;
Each choice yields a different style ring, so experimentation is recommended. In the photographs that accompany this tutorial, I chose option 1. There’s also several options as to what you can do with the remaining wire – far, far too many to list. I thoroughly recommend having a play around with different lengths of wire and styles of decoration, but for now we’ll just learn how to make a very basic form of decoration with some pretty loops.
- Now, pick up your round-nose pliers again, and get a good grip on one of the legs of wire. Try to grip the wire as close to the edge as possible; this will ensure your resulting loop sits flush with the rest of the wire. Slowly start to curl the wire outwards (away from the ring shank), until it’s curled about half way.
- Now is a good time to re-adjust your grip on the wire; move your pliers so that you’re now gripping the opposite side of the loop to where you started (if you started with your pliers on the inside of the loop, move them to the outside). Refer to pictures below if you’re unsure where to grip the wire (click to enlarge);This isn’t a necessary step, but I do find that it gives a more comfortable grip, and stops you having to awkwardly try to bend your wrist all the way round as you form the circle.
- Close up the loop; try to get the cut edge flush against the shank of the ring.
- Repeat on the other leg. Your ring should now look like the bottom photograph in the set above.
- Okay, now to add the 4mm bead :). Cut yourself a length of 28 or 26 gauge wire. Which gauge you work with is completely up to you – just use whichever you’re the most comfortable with. Personally, I find 28gauge to be just a little too thin, so I went with 26. Again, the length of wire you cut is a personal decision: you don’t need a lot of wire for this wrapping, but personally I prefer to work with longer lengths of thinner wire, as short lengths are too fiddly for me. If you have any excess wire left over, you can always use it to make another ring! Below is a photograph of the length of wire I cut, lined up against my pliers to give you an idea of size;
- Start by wrapping your thin wire around one side of your loop. Use your pliers to help you pull the wire tight if necessary. Make four wraps, then trim the excess wire: make sure your cut wire sits on the top side of the ring, as if it sits underneath it may rub uncomfortably against the skin.
- If necessary, use your flat nose pliers to gently squeeze the cut piece of wire so that it lies flush against the 18g wire;
- Now thread your 4mm onto the wire, and then wrap the remaining wire four times around the opposite side of the loop. Again, trim the excess wire and make sure the snipped end lies flat against the top-side of the ring.
And….that’s it! One beautiful new ring ready to enjoy. This is just one of the many, many ways to make wire rings, and I thoroughly recommend playing around and coming up with your own variations on the design.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below 🙂