Sunday, March 02, 2014

InspirationFX: Pirate Ring

Get your creative juices flowing

Pirate Ring
by: Dwyn Tomlinson
Hurrah for the Pirate Ring!
And it is, it is, a glorious thing,
To wear a pirate ring!
These new Swarovski crystal skulls are pretty gosh darn cool - and with the vertical hole - it's pretty obvious that the smaller ones will make great earrings and that you can hang them as a charm or a pendant. What to do that will be different ... ? Hmmmm. 

How about a ring? Could work - if I can get a bit of angle so that you see him face on. Hmmm.

And this is what I came up with. A blending of techniques: the bird's nest ring - which most of you will have seen by now, and the cluster wire-wrap ring - which, when I went looking for online instructions, seems to have disappeared. Darn.

With this combination of techniques, and given the theme, I guess you could call it a “crow's nest” ring. Ar, ar. A little pirate humour there.

It's hard to take pictures of these sorts of things when you are making them, because if you pick up the camera, you have to let go of the wires. Plus, you are making it up as you go alone, so it's hard to know what is important and what isn't. Hopefully, the following instructions help more than they hinder.

I used 24 gauge wire - I think you could go one gauge thicker - but 24 gauge worked ok, and it was what I had.

  • Take 2 pieces of wire, approx 6 feet or 2 meters in length (I do two full stretches of my arm).
  • Loosely fold each piece in half, and thread both pieces into the vertical hole of the bead, moving the bead to the center - where the fold is. Arrange so that one entire piece of wire is on the left and the other is on the right. (See diagram 1. Colour is just for clarity, all the wire I used is black.)
  • Now pinch the wires around the sides of the skull, give them a single twist beside the skull to keep everything in place (see diagram 2), and then place the skull and wires on a ring mandrel (I like the heft of steel, but wood will do in a pinch.) Select the size you are going to make, and then choose about 1-2 sizes larger. I find that these rings shrink as I make them - usually losing 1.5 to 2 ring sizes. I started this as a 10, and the end result is an 8.5 size ring, and that is with significant hammering to stretch it. 
  • To hold the ring mandrel, place the large end against your abdomen, and holding it horizontally, put the small end against the edge of a table, and press with your body to hold it in position. Now you have both hands free to manipulate the wire. It's not comfortable really, but you'll survive.
  • Wrap both wires from the left clockwise and below the bead, and from the right, counter-clockwise and above the bead. Go around the mandrel twice. Make sure the wires are all laying nice and flat. (It actually doesn't matter if the right goes below or above or which direction, just so long as you are not criss-crossing back and forth.
  • Now - you will start the bird's nest part. You will have two wires on the right, and two on the left. 
  • Wrap the wires from the left around the skull in a counter clockwise direction, and go all the way around. Then do the same with the wires from the right, going in the opposite direction. Go around with each set of wire a couple of times, keeping the wires low on the skull at first, to make the "nest" that it sits in and keeps it upright and stable.
  • When you have a nice little nest, stop with one set of wires on each side. Separate the wires and slide two donut beads down the wire to about an inch or so away from the skull. Fold the wire so that the two beads are at the fold, and twist the wire so that the twist builds up from the donuts to the skull - forming the base of the "crossed bone" motif. (See diagram 3.) Do the same with the other wire. And the same on the other side of the skull with the other pair of wires. Wrap the wires around the skull again as more "nest" a couple of times. 
  • Stop and separate the wires again, and this time, wrap a wire around the twisted wire that holds the beads. Wrap out to the beads and back. This fattens up the "bones" and make them stiffer. Do the same for all four "bones."
  • When you think you have a goodly nest for your skull and you are happy with the crossed bones, and you still have about 2-3 feet of wire left, you can start wrapping around the shank of the ring. Start at the top, and wrap both wires from one side tightly and side by side. Avoid having the wires cross each other - as they won't lay nicely and won't be as comfortable to wear. You can wrap from both sides and meet in the middle - which is what I did, or, if you have enough wire still available, you can just wrap from one side to the other.
    BTW - this is where the ring really starts shrinking. I try and keep stretching it as I go by pushing it down on the mandrel.
  • Trim the wire ends when you have finished wrapping the rink shank. Trim them on the OUTSIDE of the shank unless you like being poked by the wire ends.
  • To get some of your size back in the ring, and to make everything nice and tight and smooth, take a rawhide mallet and gently stretch the ring by lightly hammering it with glancing blows, pushing it up the mandrel to the wider end. This is will tighten up the wire and settle everything into place, and make it larger again.
  • If you didn't have enough wire left to wrap the shank - you can start another piece of wire and use that to wrap the shank. I really prefer these wrapped ring bands to the ones that are just wires side by side - they feel more substantial and are stronger, less likely to snag on something, and look more professional. IMHO. ;-)
Et voila! Your Jolly Roger skull and crossed bones pirate ring. Arrrrr Maties? Whose up for some grog?



Go to our components list for this project and to buy what you need!
Need some help with some of the techniques? Check our tips page.

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