Sterling Silver Bracelet - A Simple Design

Detail of triton design bead nestled between two pieces of wire.
Detail of triton design bead nestled between two pieces of wire. | Source

Designing a Bracelet - Begin with a Doodle!

As anybody may have surmised from reading previous hubs, I am an artist and I love to doodle. I also love the feel and look of sterling silver. It has an elegance that really appeals to me. I have a project which may interest the novice jewelry maker. Now, you may wonder where the doodling part comes in, but as I was looking through one of my sketch books, I came across one of these swirly drawings that I frequently create. I thought wow, wouldn't these swirly lines look great translated into sterling silver!

You never know where your inspiration will come from and just from looking at that sketchbook, I think swirls were on my mind. I had recently ordered two or three feet of 18 gauge sterling wire (dead soft) which is very malleable. As luck would have it, with the order I was also sent two free textured, silver colored beads. I didn't order it with a design in mind, I just started to play. It's good to have a pair of round nose pliers right next to you. You can acquire these at any good arts and crafts store. Sooner or later you will want to swirl that wire. Don't fight your materials, go with their strengths. Eighteen gauge wire is sturdy, but it's still wire, so it's workable. I think it keeps it's shape much better than smaller gauge wires. Sterling wire is also available in half hard and hard varieties, still malleable, but a little harder to work. The more stiff the wire is, the harder it is to work, but, it will hold it's shape better than the softer grades.

How to Begin with Two Twelve Inch Pieces

  1. Start with two 12" pieces of wire. Measure 3" in, mark with marker and put first bead on one wire.
  2. Next take the other wire that the bead is not beaded onto and block bead you just put on first wire from moving by first swirling in front of bead, then overlap this wire to the other side of bead and swirl next to it to keep it from moving. You now have one bead on that won't fall off.
  3. From the first bead swirl, move two inches to your right and attach second bead to the same wire that swirled in front of first bead (this acted as a block to keep bead from moving forward, remember). Now that you have your second bead take the wire that is coming over the first bead and swirl it in front of and behind your second bead. Pull the two wires that are between the two beads apart. I pulled mine apart and put a solid leaf shaped form between them to shape them. Then I hammered the wire over the shape with a jewelers' mallet to make it hold it's form.
  4. Now, you should have two loose wires on the outside (outermost side) of both of these beads.
  5. For each side, wrap one wire loosely around the other. On one end, make a self hook. You simply bend the wrapped wires over to make a skinny letter u. Do this with your pliers, not your fingers! Wire can be sharp. That's one side done. Wrap the two wires on the left side the same way, but this time, with the longer piece of wire left, make a loop. Wrap the remaining shorter wire around straight part of looped wire and tighten with pliers and work with this until tucked in. Sand ends of wire with 320 sandpaper until smooth. Hook the u shaped hook into the loop and your bracelet is constructed.
  6. To shape your bracelet, place it on a round non-breakable cylindrical form and hit firmly (but not too hard) with a mallet, not a hammer. A rolling pin can be used as a form, or ideally, a slightly larger cylindrical wooden form.
  7. Because after handling sterling silver, it will tend to oxidize, rub it thoroughly to get the tarnish off with a very soft cloth. Soft t-shirt material is best.
  8. Enjoy your creation. This is a very simple form of bracelet making that can be done in under two hours.

Simple bracelet which can be worn with other bracelets or alone.  This is what I consider doodling with wire.  This bracelet can be found on: https://www.etsy.com/listing/101094670/sterling-silver-spring-heart-bracelet
Simple bracelet which can be worn with other bracelets or alone. This is what I consider doodling with wire. This bracelet can be found on: https://www.etsy.com/listing/101094670/sterling-silver-spring-heart-bracelet | Source

Supplies You Will Need

  1. Sketch pad, fine line marker - Start doodling!
  2. Sterling silver wire, 18 gauge, "dead soft", two or three feet
  3. Round nose pliers
  4. Small jeweler's rubber mallet
  5. A variety of beads to choose from, one larger (about 3/4" and one about half that size)
  6. 320 sand paper which is very fine for sanding wire ends until all sharp edges are gone

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