Rings vs Bracelets: Make Easy Jewelry with Patterned Wire Strips

14 Aug 2013

I love the simplicity of this bangle bracelet with a little surprise. It's two pieces of patterned wire subtly combined in one bangle. Photo: Cool Tools.
I was supposed to be writing about bracelets today, so I spent yesterday in the studio making bracelets--rather, I spent yesterday in the studio intending to make bracelets.

Whenever the weather is warm, I start thinking about bracelets and proclaim it "bracelet season," when short sleeves make it the perfect time to show off bold cuffs, jingling charm bracelets, trendy leather wraps, and stacks of bangles. Plus, as Merle White (editorial director of Interweave's jewelry group) pointed out, bracelets are one type of jewelry (along with rings) that you can actually see on yourself and enjoy while you're wearing them.

That's why I was supposed to be in the studio making bracelets.

But what I actually made was more than half a dozen rings and parts of some bracelets. My indecision kicked in and I couldn't decide how to finish the bracelets, but I had no trouble making ring after ring after ring . . . .

When I saw the patterned wire strips from Cool Tools, my mind ran away with ideas of how to use all those gorgeous designs in bracelets. They're my favorite new jewelry-making supply, available in sterling, copper, and brass, in a wide variety of widths and design styles and thicknesses. I was instantly full of ideas for using them. Bangles and cuffs came to mind for the thick, heavier-gauge narrow patterned wire strips and the wide filigree pieces as well. I envisioned them formed into cuffs (with just a little filing to finish the ends), soldered into stacks and stacks of unique bangles, or used to accent the strappy leather bracelets that are so in fashion lately. The pretty lacy, lattice, and filigree ones are ideal for layering into other (solid) metals or leather cuffs and connecting with rivets or other cold connections. I could go on and on!

But instead of making all those bracelets, I made rings. Let me rephrase that: I made a bunch of rings, in just a few minutes. Patterned stack rings, wide cigar-band-style filigree rings, girl rings and boy rings, thin delicate bands and thick bold bands, even a silver ring with a fancy copper bezel for a prized piece of light green Roman glass--it was so easy, I couldn't stop making rings. Just measure, cut, and file; then shape, solder, and reshape, and voila! I turned short pieces of so many of the different patterned wires into rings, lickety split. I kept thinking to myself that it would be a great lesson for soldering practice, filing all those joints perfectly straight so they'd fit perfectly well. And since I used silver, copper, and brass, it was good practice in soldering mixed and alternative metals as well.


As fun as all those rings are, they aren't bracelets. So I was hoping you could help me finish the bracelet(s). I was fiddling with two pretty pieces of the widest patterned wire; I trimmed them to about half-cuff length, formed them into a nice bracelet-like arc (I don't have a bracelet mandrel but I do have a steel individual-size thermos that worked just perfectly), and filed the ends smooth. And then . . . what?

I planned to make a two-piece "reversible" hinged bracelet, so that either the copper lattice or the brass filigree could be on the front, depending on mood. I made a loop on one end of the brass piece, planning to incorporate a leather "hinge pin" in it with knots on each end . . . but then I changed my mind. I thought about using jump rings to connect them or even "sewing" them together with wire instead, but I can't decide on that either.


Clearly, I need your help! How would you use these two pieces? In a two-sided hinged bracelet or individually? Over another metal, or leather, or on their own? I'd love to hear in the comments below.

When you start with supplies that are as varied and unique as these cool patterned wire strips are, your ring- and bracelet-making projects can be as involved and complicated as you want them to be--or super quick and easy, when that's what you're in the mood to make. They've done most of the hard, labor-intensive stuff for you!

For more easy wire jewelry projects, turn to Easy Wire magazine (in print or in digital format) for cool wire jewelry projects you can make in minutes. 

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wildemon wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 8:53 AM

Just looking at your last photo, I think overlaying the darker diagonal grid band on top of the shiny filigree brass would be most attractive. Of course that would only result in half a cuff but maybe your experience with leather would allow you to mount the combined metals onto a softer full cuff. I might even try Velcro for the closure.

sayuri7 wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 9:00 AM

I like simple classy jewelry, so If it were for me I would leave them as is as half cuff( maybe just shape them a bit to fit better). On second thought, the gray one could use some bling, a cameo focal (bead work or wire bezel) with little pearls or stones around it and use nice ribbon to tie up the cuff. you could also loop small beads in the lattice and continue with bigger flat beads of hte same coloras strap for the bracelet

terezi wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 10:28 AM

how about weaving strips of colored ribbon thru the latticework on the copper piece? Or, sewing it onto a backing of wide, brightly colored ribbon? (perhaps sewn doubled first for durability).

warjna wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 3:14 PM

I agree with Terezi - what I was seeing for the brass filigree was some broad, shiny ribbon in a bold turquoise. Tack it down to the filigree, and add a simple clasp. Or - despite the fact that I'm NOT a beader - why not complete the filigree with a beaded strap?

The darker grid band would be way cool in an industrial or steampunk style. Add metallic beads in the grid with multiple metals and finishes, and embellish with found objects, bits of ribbon or other mixed media.

Mary Beckett wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 4:00 PM

I think I would try a woven leather on the reverse side of each of these. They are both beautiful, but I think it may be too much to have them as one bracelet. Another alternative is to add some creative weaving such as band weaving or friendship bracelet style weaving with multi-coloured silks or yarns... I also like the idea of adding a stone or something to the copper one.

ritzy2 wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 4:39 PM

First, let me say, I don't know how you should finish those to bracelets. But, what I thought of when I first saw how you finished the end of the brass(?) one was that if you had cut it to fit 3/4 of the way around your wrist you could use some kind of center decoration with jump rings to attach it. Guess you would have to be in my head to see it .

BeckyP@18 wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 7:09 PM

I can see tiny crystals in the grid . I like Sayuri7's idea of finishing  with a focal  that is a clasp. If you did that with the grid  bracelet you could wear it either way.The brass bracelet should have a dark colored backing of some kind either leather or fabric to make the pattern really stand out. A backing would be more comfortable than just metal.

Beebz wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 11:53 PM

I think I would make a wide chain maille backing for each of these half pieces. I was thinking a dragonscale weave would be lovely. Connect the weave to the metal pieces with the jumprings and make it large enough to slip on. OR...sneak a 5 looped sliding clasp into the connection on one side.

How did you join the two pieces of the gold bangle at the top of the page? The seam is gorgeous!

Beebz wrote
on 14 Aug 2013 11:59 PM

I think I would add a chain maille mesh backing to each of these...maybe in the dragon scale weave. You could either attach the jump rings of the weave to the wire fronts or slip a 5 loop sliding clasp into the design on one side of the bracelet.

How did you attach the two pieces of patterned wire in the gold bangle in the top picture? The seams are invisible and fabulous!!!! Please tell us.

sdth wrote
on 15 Aug 2013 1:04 AM

I like the idea of using them individually as is! They are both lovely pieces, why overdo it?

angielampman wrote
on 15 Aug 2013 9:21 PM

i love riveting and cold connecting.  I would add some rivets/eyelets/brads to each of the pieces.  To connect, I would probably cut some silver or copper and cold connect the two pieces on one side and and a clasp/toggle to the other side....cold connected, of course!

What a fun project!!

PatCooper wrote
on 17 Aug 2013 3:20 PM

I LOVE the idea of two different looks with a "flip of the wrist" so you need to balance both sides.  Either cold join one with a Hook and eye closure on the other or what about clasps on BOTH sides? different styles that would display depending on which side was "up".  I crochet and I am working on something like this but I was making symmetrical - silly me now I am going for 2 different looks

TammyJones wrote
on 19 Aug 2013 11:53 AM

Thank you all for your clever ideas and comments! I need to spend a few more hours in the studio playing with these fun wires and metal bands.

Beebz, I wish I had made that bangle! It's a piece that someone at Cool Tools made using these great patterned wires. I'm not sure, but I think they've used a small piece of a beaded-look wire that matches the edges of the other two wires over the seam--plus an excellent finishing job!

Talatu Ndagi wrote
on 30 Dec 2013 5:24 PM

want to make the bangles and the rings . like the slim bangle .

Talatu Ndagi wrote
on 30 Dec 2013 5:24 PM

want to make the bangles and the rings . like the slim bangle .