Basic Wire Curls
Curls are an integral part of wire wrapped jewelry and a skill every wire artist should have in their wheelhouse. While they appear deceptively simple, there are a lot of poor ones out there. Beyond all else, I must caution you with the placement of your curls and how they are secured. Loose wire ends will catch on hair and clothes if you aren’t careful to secure them. I will not be covering that today, however please take it into consideration when making your jewelry pieces.
When making a curl, one thing to consider is that you do not want a raw wire end sitting in the curl. It doesn’t look nice and it’s very likely to cause problems with your piece. It’s better to head off as many issues as possible. So my steps are as follows:
First, I file the end of the wire so that it is as rounded off as possible. It looks better and it behaves better. Filing only takes a few seconds and leads to a much nicer result. Then, using my chain nose pliers, I squeeze the very tip of the wire flat. Yes, I crush it. This is a slight maneuver that doesn’t show up well in a photo, however when you’re working on your wire up close in person, you will be able to see the difference between doing this and not doing it. Do try it both ways and see for yourself.
Then, I fold that tiny end of the wire around the very tip of the chain nose plier and make a very small loop in the wire end.
Next, I squeeze that end in the tip of the pliers to close it up tightly. How tight you go is up to you, and when making a spiral you will want to close this loop as completely as possible for the tightest look. However, because I’m doing a decorative curl I’m ok with a slight opening in mine.
From there, I hold that folded end in the plier jaws and begin to form a circle around it. The size of your finished curl will dictate how loose or tight you wrap around, but using a turning motion will create a gentle loop in your wire. Think of it as similar to the action of a key in a door.
If I need a curl to be a very specific size, I will actually form the outer edge of the curl and then finish the end of the wire, reversing the order of steps. This takes some practice as you need to know where to cut your wire and begin the end of your loop to get it to sit exactly right. Like all things, this comes with experience. Making a thousand curls should get you close to proficiency. As a side note, curls can really have an interesting look when they are hammered, either on one edge, or all the way across. Try some variations and see how much it adds to the finished look of your work. I hope this has been helpful!