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Egyptian coil - assembly


#1

Hi, I have made a prototype of an Egyptian coil (double spiral)
necklace. Each link was identically and carefully measured and
marked. When I hooked them together, I realized that I would have to
make adjustments in order to get the necklace to curve around the
neck. I would appreciate it if somebody could tell me how I make the
adjustment without damaging the spirals. Any slight bend forces the
inner spiral of one link to slightly overlap the next one. Messy and
unprofessional looking. Does this mean calculating each link to
allow for that extra bend allowance - or is there a
trick-of-the-trade short cut when making+assembling a chain like
this? I would like my finished piece to have identically space
links.

Hopefully, ;-D


#2

I am especially fond of the “Egyptian coil” style chain, as I have
some pieces my father made for my mother out of nychrome wire more
than 60 years ago… I believe they are supposed to overlap when
curved. My father just angled the coils slightly so that they would
slide easily under each other as needed. In fact, one of his chains
is so tightly made that the links are all overlapped even when
straight. But I see no reason that you could not make the links
longer (farther apart), or make the upper coil smaller than the
lower to accomodate the curve.

Noel


#3
    ...I realized that I would have to make adjustments in order to
get the necklace to curve around the neck. I would appreciate it if
somebody could tell me how I make the adjustment without damaging
the spirals. Any slight bend forces the inner spiral of one link to
slightly overlap the next one. Messy and unprofessional looking.
Does this mean calculating each link to allow for that extra bend
allowance - or is there a trick-of-the-trade short cut when
making+assembling a chain like this? I would like my finished piece
to have identically space links. 

Devora, I make these “Egyptian” coil necklaces on a regular basis
and can suggest the following–

–Forget trying to re-do the coils. Split the necklace into
segments and make bracelet(s) and earrings.

–When you re-make the necklace, as you roll the coils inward from
each end of your standardized pieces of wire (I use 9-inch pieces
of 18 gauge brass), simply make one coil slightly larger than the
other. I estimate this by eye and like the results; you could
mark a place where you stop coiling on one side, if you don’t
want to eye-ball it. I assume you have a little piece of cardboard
(or something) with the final width of the coiled segment
indicated. I “fit” all of my segments (before bending the two coils
inward to meet each other) into that space, to make sure they are
the same length.

–It is my opinion, but I greatly prefer the look of overlapping
links, on necklaces and bracelets. In the case of necklaces,
both the inner and outer coils overlap. It gives a richer and
heavier look, which I like. Obviously, they must all overlap in
the same direction! I also “pinch” each segment slightly, to raise
it up in the center, which gives the whole piece a more
dimensional aspect. However, “to each her own.” HTH

Judy Bjorkman


#4

To Len and Judy Bjorkman – do you have photos of your work? Also,
do you have a tutorial anywhere? The Egyptian coil sounds
beautiful.

By the way, Thanks to all on this forum who share their ideas and
projects – you guys are truly awesome!

Judy


#5

Hi Judy,

What you’re doing sounds a little unusual and I’d love to see a
photo, especially of how you “pinch” the links. I usually use them by
connecting “facing” pairs with jump rings, a la Lynn Merchant.
Something wrong with my brain or my fingers (or both) but I still
can’t figure out how to get them to overlap without feeling
frustrated and inept, so I haven’t yet made an entire overlapping
chain–even though they were the first wirework pieces I tried to
make (years ago, out of the book, and before taking any classes). But
I love the look. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and take a class!

Gratefully,
Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Benicia CA

PS: I did email the Oriental Institute at Chicago, asking if they
knew of any truly Egyptian pieces made with this type of chain. Still
no answer.


#6

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,

Judy Bjorkman


#7

Hi, Thanx to everyone who was kind enough to take the time to reply
and to share. I join the chorus of voices clamoring for pix and/or
URLs dealing with this subject! Feel free to contact me offlist. Keep
shining,

;-D… evora