How to Make Your Own Jump Rings
More than once this week I’ve run out of a certain bead at the end of a piece. And I don’t mean three-quarters of the way through. I mean I literally need just one or two more beads to finish. It’s a situation that’s not quite worth making an extra trip to the bead store, but surely warrants a full-scale tear through my studio and couch cushions.
I know I’m not alone on this one. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? I usually end up finding a close, but not-quite-right substitute that only I will notice. Or sometimes I just throw in the towel and use the opportunity to add a “spirit bead”—an obviously wrong-colored bead to remind the world that my piece is human-made. Not sure that the world needs that sort of reminder, but I’ll go along with the story if it means I can have a completion experience.
Speaking of spirit beads, I was flipping through Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey’s Jewelry Studio: Wire Wrapping book this morning. These ladies should put some spirit beads in their pieces because they look like they were forged by magical elfin goldsmiths! Boy, they do beautiful work. I have to admit, I was daunted by the projects until I started looking at the hundreds of photos that show the step-by-step how-tos. When the pieces are broken down into such easy steps, they really aren’t as scary as I thought. They look downright easy, actually. And when I read their introduction about using the book’s directions only as a general guide so I could branch off and do my own thing later, I realized maybe these two really are human. I’d highly recommend this book for anyone looking to make high-quality intricate wire jewelry and learn some great techniques at the same time.
Making your Own Jump Rings
One technique Linda and Christine cover in their book is how to make your own jump rings. This is a great way to start getting comfortable with wire wrapping before you try some of the projects in the book. It came in handy for me this week as I worked on my next Beadwork “Designer of the Year” piece. I was just 3 jumprings short! What a nice thing to be able to whip up a few using a few simple tools:
1. Hold a length of wire perpendicular against an appropriately sized pencil or dowel, leaving a short tail.
2. Use your fingers or chain-nose pliers to coil the wire tightly around the pencil or dowel for as many revolutions as you need jump rings, plus one or two. Go slowly, ensuring that the wraps touch one another.
3. Remove the wire from the pencil or dowel. Flush cut the wire ends, creating a clean coil.
4. Turn the cutters the opposite direction so you can flush cut the first jump ring off the coil, making the cut so it’s even with the first wire end.
5. Turn the cutters again so it faces the opposite direction. Flush cut the very tip of the wire. This will ensure that your next ring is flush-cut, too.
6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to remove all the jumprings from the coil.
Pretty easy, huh? The neat thing about making your own jump rings is you aren’t limited by wire gauge or type—you can use any size of round, square, or twisted wire to make truly unique findings.
Do you have a special technique to share that helps avoid an extra trip to the bead store? Please share it on the website.