Well, since there’s some interest, here’s what I can offer without
pictures (I haven’t spent the time to learn how to scan something
into an attachment).
The basics of this assembly can be found in McCreight’s The Complete
Metalsmith (1991) p. 140, under “Miscellaneous Chains.” (I do not
file the ends of the wire to a taper; if I were making it in gold
or silver, I might.)
It can also be found in Helen Clegg and Mary Larom’s old classic,
Jewelry Making for fun and profit (1951 is the one I have, but
it’s out in a new edition now; try Barnes & Noble, etc.), pp. 8ff.,
where the basic instructions are given, and in Chapter 26, pp.
128ff., where variations are given. This book is the best of any
for showing all the helpful details of construction. On. p. 130,
they mention the “pinching up” of the center, once the bracelet (or
choker) has been constructed (“Bend the whole bracelet so that the
center ridge is higher than the edges…”) This was something I
did before reading Clegg and Larom.
My particular measurements differ only somewhat from Clegg and
Larom’s. I use 9" pieces of 18 gauge red brass (copper is nice,
too; nickel-silver’s inherent stiffness makes it slightly more
difficult to coil snugly). I have a piece of cardboard on which I
mark a space of 1& 3/4 inches. Then I coil the wire in from each
end, until both coils are about the same size and the whole unit
fits into the space marked on the cardboard. Then I hand-bend the
unit in half, at the center of the wire connecting the two coils
(start with the coils oriented upward); leave the loop thus formed
open (i.e., don’t squeeze the wire together there) and the coils
will touch at the bottom.
Then I gently hammer only the coils over an anvil, just to even
them out and flatten them very slightly. When you have a lot of
these units made, begin the bracelet by seizing one unit with
flat-jaw pliers, held horizontally, just so that only the
uppermost wire of the coil peeks out of the pliers. Bend the loop
over 90 degrees; take away the pliers and bend it over another 90
degrees so the loop touches the coils. The loop should protrude
slightly below the coils, or at least be visible.
The next units are bent only 90 degrees to begin with. When the
second unit has been bent like this, turn it sideways and insert
its loop down through the loop of the first unit (from the front).
Then, straighten it out and hand-bend the loop of the second unit
(from the back), down until it is bent 180 degrees, like the first
one. Then just continue this process until you are one loop short
of the desired length.
Lastly, make a unit which is at least one inch longer (in the
center) than the rest. Make coils which are the same size as the
rest of the units. When you bend this unit in half, after
coiling, pinch the loop wires together, so that there is no
space between them. This will later form the hook for the
bracelet. Insert this last unit the same way as the rest, but
once it’s in place, bend the doubled wire up and around (in the
back) to form a hook. Put a jumpring at the other end and the
bracelet is basically finished.
Now is the time to hand-bend the outer edges of the bracelet down
(and the center up), to get the dimensional effect. You can make
adjustments in the evenness of the coils by fiddling around on
the back of the bracelet, pinching or widening wires,and from the
front by coiling individual coils up or down a little.
This requires no soldering and is a nice project for mature
beginners. Enjoy! Let me know if you have other questions. I’ll
be teaching this at Ghost Ranch in August, or, if you are near
Binghamton, NY, at Broome Community College in the fall.
Clegg and Larom show a bracelet with triangular coils – if anyone
has figured out how to do those more simply, let me know!
Lisa, I love Lynn Merchant’s jewelry! Please let me know if you
hear from the Oriental Institute!
All the best,