Monday, June 9, 2014

Twist it Sister! By Karen McGovern

Summer is here.  So, my brain is now a pool of humid mush.  My "studio" is in our two car garage.  I live in South Florida.  So basically, my "studio" is on the surface of the sun. Today it was 92 degrees out there.  I know this because I have an outdoor thermometer in the garage that I use as argumentative leverage for my twice monthly "WHY CAN'T I HAVE A REAL STUDIO?" whine-fest I launch with my husband.  Today, I had sweat dripping off my nose like Rafael Nadal in the middle of the French Open.  Conversely, I also convince myself it's a weight loss strategy.  A sweat lodge without having to get into all the metaphysical/spiritual stuff.  Whatever. 
Today's post is about a quickie design I am in love with right now.  WHO DOESN'T LOVE A GOOD QUICKIE?  AMIRIGHT??  Anyways, I can claim absolutely ZERO credit for this tutorial.  I found it on The Ganoksin Project, which if you are not following stop everything and do so RIGHT NOW.  Great jewelry forum, full of information and tutorials that is shared FREELY and OFTEN.  Their YouTube channel is GOLDEN and they link all their videos to the Facebook page.
So, this is what I call a "With a Twist" bangle, and it is SUPER EASY to make either as a bangle or a cuff.  Today I made a bangle.  These are lovely stacked together in a big pile, I love to mix metals and wear a mix of copper, brass and silver.  Beginner level project, all you need is a micro-torch, 10 or 12 gauge wire (or thicker), a chasing hammer, bench block, solder block and some Easy Solder paste (if you make a bangle.  No soldering if you make a cuff). 
Cut an 8.5 inch length of wire.  Mark the middle with a Sharpie.  Decide how much of the bangle you want twisted, then mark out from the center evenly on both sides.  I went with 1.5 inches on either side of the center mark.  Make sure the wire is straight (tip to straighten a length of wire...roll it between two bench blocks till it's straight.... GENIIUS!). Place on the bench block and hammer out from the center with a chasing hammer, flattening the wire.  Take your time, stop and straighten the wire as it begins to curl.  Try to keep the wire and the hammer strikes straight and event so the wire is flattened evenly.  Don't go too thin, you will be twisting the wire and don't want it to split or crack.  Basically, you are flattening the wire by about half.  Then, anneal the hammered section of the wire with your micro-torch on a solder block.  Heat it until it glows a dull red.  Quench, and clean if you like.  No need to pickle yet, I just give the wire a few swipes with a medium grit sanding sponge to get the bulk of the fire scale off.  Then, fix one end of the wire in a table top vise.  Grab just the very end in the vise and clamp it tightly.  Next, grab the other end with a pair of locking pliers.  Again, grab just the end, but make sure the pliers lock on tightly.  Pull the wire tight, and begin twisting in one direction.  Twist until you get the pattern and number of twists you like then unlock the pliers and remove the wire from the vise.  Wrap around a bracelet mandrel to size correctly (I make a standard 8 inch bangle), trim and file the ends.  Bend the ends until they meet flush (file until you get a true, flush fit), add a dab of Easy Solder paste, and fire with a Micro-Torch.  Quench, then size the bangle on the mandrel, hammering lightly with a rubber or leather mallet to shape.  Pickle, tumble if you want and polish or patina till your heart's content.

For a cuff, cut a 6.5 inch length of wire and follow the steps above.  After twisting, trim the ends to make the length 6 inches and hammer the ends flat, then file smooth.  Bend into a cuff shape with either a bracelet bender or your hands.  Pickle and finish as above. 
This design has so many possibilities.  I've made rings, I plan to make some twisted hoop earrings.  I think a twisted neck wire would be cool, but I've never made a neck wire.  Somebody do that and tell me how it goes, okay???  You could make some cool twisted toggles and clasps--SO MANY THINGS!

So, enjoy this quick little project and stack these bad boys to your elbows.  HAVE FUN!

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