Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Coiling crazy!

By: Cindy Goldrick

Third time's the charm. I know, it's an inside joke for me. I started this blog twice yesterday and lost it both times during the upload from my iPad. So today, I'm working from a different device and hoping it all works out.

I know many of you have a wire coiling device somewhere in your stash. You either bought it and played with it for a while or you bought it and never took it out of the package. I know this, because lots of my wire work students have confessed this fact to me over the last few months. So I thought it was time to bring the coiler out of the basement and show you how versatile it is.

There are several kinds of coilers available at a variety of price points. For those of you with a Lazee Daizee Viking knitter, you already have a small wire coiler. It can be used to create wire end caps for your Viking knit creations. Or anything else, as you'll soon see. I've copied a picture from Stephanie Eddy's gallery at her site so you can see how she incorporates coils into her work.


There is the Coiling Gizmo by Artistic Wire, which you can pick up through Beadfx by clicking here. There's a useful video on using the tool which I embedded above.

Parawire has a tool called the Cobra Coiler, which is a great tool for the price, but it is about twice the price of the Gizmo. You can order it here. You can also insert steel rods into the chuck of a power drill and turn it on -- be vigilant, as the wire will coil very quickly!

Here's a quick guide to how to use your coiling tool and what you can do with it to create interesting beads that will enhance any jewellery design.

Use 24 or 26 gauge wire in the colour of your choice. My preference is Parawire - I find it kinks less and doesn't break as easily as some other kinds. Leave it on the spool and, depending on your tool, wrap some wire around the handle where you crank or insert it securely into the drill's chuck, alongside the mandrel.

Hold the wire between your thumb and first finger in your non-dominant hand, crank with your dominant hand and use the pressure of your fingers to control the flow of the wire around the mandrel, ensuring that the wraps lie flush beside each other. Wind on as much as you think you'll need. To release the wire from the mandrel, snip the wire at the spool end as flush as possible to the mandrel and flush cut the wire at the beginning of the coil close to the mandrel. Tug the wire gently off the mandrel so it maintains its tight coil (or not, if you want it to be a wonky coil...)

Here's a video on using the Cobra Coiler.

Now for the fun part. Thread your coil on heavier gauge wire. I like 20 or 22 gauge. Set the wire up on the mandrel as outlined above and hold it in a similar manner. Wind 5 - 7 coils tightly. Then move your coiled wire up to the mandrel and gently help it feed around the mandrel. You will see the wire coils spread and reveal the base wire. Keep coiling until you reach the end of your coiled wire and finish with 5 - 7 more wraps of the heavy gauge wire. Trim flush to the mandrel and remove. You can use your flush cutters to ensure you have the same number of wraps at each end and trim up any wire sticking out.

And that's it! You have a component to add into any jewellery design. Try varying the wire gauge, wire colour and lengths. Add beads or even crystals to create blingy beads. Treat your components as beads and string them with semi-precious beads or other things.

If you make things with your coiler that are interesting or unique, please share your creations in the comments below. Or if you have any suggestions for using the devices, please share that too! Happy coiling...

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