Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coiling Wire to Create a Crystal Ball Necklace Design

By on Wednesday, March 09, 2011 12 Comments

When I first got the latest batch of beads from Auntie's Beads' Glass Beads section, I went, "Disco ball!"  No prizes for guessing why.

The crystal encrusted wooden ball as well as some of the rondelles and bicones were a topaz color with a hint of pink. They also sent a peridot green strand of rondelles as well with a lovely AB coating which I have set aside for a future project. These lovely crystals are from China.

I resisted the temptation to make disco ball earrings because they are on the large side.  So I chose to make a coiled wire necklace using jeweler's bronze using some dark bronze seed beads of my own as well.  It's now in my Life Collection on Etsy where 100% of net proceeds goes to cancer research.

Jeweler's bronze is a misnomer because it's not bronze (copper/tin alloy) but brass (copper/zinc alloy). It's also known as Merlin's Gold - a far better term because it simulates gold in color. I really like it as it is a soft yellow hue, not at all brassy.

What's it like to work with?  Although it is a soft temper and easily workable, brass (and bronze) tend to be stiffer than soft sterling silver. It's quite springy if you let it uncoil too fast from the spool.  Will it tarnish?  Yes, because it contains copper.  So the necklace should be stored in a protective bag or sealed with Renaissance wax (see my past post, Is Renaissance Wax Safe to Use for Jewelry?).

I have a variety of coiling tools including old knitting needles but the one I like a lot is the Artistic Wire Worker set.  It's inexpensive and comes with 6 mandrels. 3 are round and should be fine for most coiling applications.  The dark bronze seed beads were picked up on the wire and coiled around one of the round mandrels. The topaz rondelles and bicones were used towards the back of the necklace.

The other 3 are triangular, square and flat mandrels. These create larger coiled wire effects which I needed to compliment the large disco ball.

The flat mandrel was used to create that gold tone spiral effect on either side of the crystal ball.  Do not coil the wire too tightly around the flat mandrel otherwise you will not be able to easily remove the coil when you are finished. The flat coiled wire springs open and looks rather haphazard when you take it off the mandrel. Compressing it leads to that spiral effect.  If you use the square mandrel, the spiral effect is less obvious.  I have not yet experimented much with the triangular mandrel.

More wire coiling tutorials
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. I have this tool and always wondered "what can I do with those odd shaped mandrels?". Thanks for the visual. Best, Lisa

  2. wow beautiful necklace!Have often wondered how to make coiled wires like that. Thanks!

  3. Pearl, you are simply awesome! I've had one of those mandrel sets for years and use the round ones all the time to make my jump rings, but never knew what the square ones were for. Now I do! I'm just going to have to try some of those coiled beads. Thanks!

  4. something new...any idea how to get those shaped coilings without a square mandrel?

  5. It really is fun to experiment with your tools - you never know what you'll be able to create if you don't try!

    Divya - I would check out a hardware store and see if there might be metal rods you can use that are square in shape.

  6. Your necklace is beautiful!
    Thanks for posting tutorials, I am definitely going to check them out :)

  7. The assortment of beads were certainly interesting and your creation turned out beautifully. I am impressed with the color of the Jeweler's Bronze, not at all brassy but very lush and rich looking. I'll also have to scope out the Artistic Wire Worker tool as it looks like a practical and useful device...and like it would be fun to play with. :D

  8. Pearl, I have been searching the net for that Artistic Wire Worker tool and either your blog has sent everybody out buying them up or I'm looking in the wrong places. A number of sites have them listed as "Discontinued", "Not Available" or "No Longer Available", while others simply say; "Out of Stock". I did find one website that carried it and had it in stock but their shipping charge was more than the price of the tool. Guess if all else fails I'll have to suck it up and pay the high shipping fee.

  9. Hmmm. I bought mine years ago so I haven't actually looked at the internet. I searched the manufacturer's site and they don't list it any more. Keep looking!

  10. Pearl - My Artistic Wire Work toy came yesterday and I'm having fun playing with it. Must remember not to coil the wire tightly around the oddly shaped mandrels because, just as you warned, it becomes impossible to remove. I've also located the "Wild Wire" book #3414 in the used book section of and have one on order. Hopefully it will have more information on the use of this cool device.

  11. That's great Anna! I also suggest you scour your local lending library for more coiled wire books for further inspiration.

    It also helps to develop an even rhythm when coiling wire.

  12. I've got bezel mandrels in various shapes too they will be good for that- though still thinking of other uses for the flat and triangular ones now