Nothing says party like rainbows and spirals. If you’re not feeling festive now, you will be by the end of this Instructable. Besides, how many projects have you cutting sheet metal one minute and crocheting a rainbow the next? Even if you’ve never picked up a crochet hook or used tin snips before, this Instructable serves as a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about making sheet metal spiral streamers. Use your skills or make some new ones and let’s get started!
Materials (For 10 Feet of Streamer)
Aluminum Sheet Metal: I used scrap metal from one of my previous Instructables that measured about 20" long. You'll need at least 10" of width. If purchasing new buy (1) 1' x 2' aluminum sheet. At Home Depot they're usually near the windows/doors.
Yarn: Anything colorful! Bulky weight or 3 strands worsted weight used together. I wish I could tell you the name and brand of what I used, but I found these skeins in my scrap bag from years ago, and the labels are long lost. Thickness and gauge doesn't really matter because it doesn't have to make a particular size. I didn't even have the correct size crochet hook for bulky weight yarn, but in the end it doesn't really matter because all you do is chain until it reaches a certain length.
(10) Jump Rings: You can find these at any art supply store in the jewelry section. They are small, unconnected metal loops that can be easily opened and closed with a pair of pliers.
Metal Wire: I had some 28 guage wire on hand, but in hindsight I would have preferred something a little thicker, maybe 26 or 24 guage. The hair-thin 28 guage meant it would slip through the jump ring unless it was super tight or overlapped.
Crochet Hook: I only have one size hook (3.5 mm), which is technically too small but it works for this application because size isn't important.
Straight Tin Snips: Aluminum is soft and easy to cut. Only straight cuts are used, so straight tin snips (as opposed to left- or right- cut snips) are all that's needed.
Needle-Nose Pliers: for opening/closing the jump rings
Cordless Drill & 1/16th" drill bit for drilling the mounting holes.
Round Objects for wrapping the metal strips around, preferably 2 different diameters. I used a flashlight for the larger diameter and a hot sauce bottle for the smaller diameter. The metal will not hold the exact diameter of your object and will spring back larger, so pick something smaller than you actually want.
Step 1: Measure and Cut Aluminum Strips
One of the cool things about making streamers is that nothing has to be very precise. I had scrap metal strips from my previous Instructable and made a couple larger and smaller than the measurements I have listed here to use up what I had. Make it work for you!
Make 10 Strips approximately 20" long:
Mark 1” in from the side on one end of the metal strip, and 1/8” in from the same side on the other end. Connect the two points with a ruler and draw a line to follow when you cut.
Info on Using Tin Snips:
When you cut with tin snips, the piece on the left side will ride up, and the right side will go down. Position the shears so the thinner strip that is being cut is on the left side and cut with them like you would normal scissors. You'll notice the metal start to curl naturally; in fact, this is how I got the idea for this project. I was trimming some sheet metal and noticed the thin strips started spiraling, so I followed the idea and went with it!
Step 2: Make the Spirals
Make 10 Spirals:
Use your round objects to wrap the metal strips around. The metal will not hold the exact diameter of your object and will spring back larger, so pick something smaller than you actually want. Use the larger diameter for the first 3 or 4 turns and a smaller diameter for the last couple turns. As a side note, the flashlight I used was 1 1/2" diameter on the widest side and the hot sauce bottle was about 1 1/4" diameter, with a taper.
After spiraling the metal, it won't look perfect. The small diameter circles will be off-set from the larger, and it will probably be more condensed than you want it. Use your hands to pull and guide the metal into the shape you want it; aluminum is easy to work with, and the edges are not super sharp (the corners can get pretty pointy though!)
Step 3: Drill the Mounting Holes
Repeat on All 10 Spirals:
Drill (2) holes per spiral, one on the upper corner of the 1" end, and one across from that on the other side of the spiral. Use a 1/16th inch drill bit. Make sure you leave a bit of space between the hole and the edge, because the aluminum will break/separate easily if you put the hole too close to the edge, especially the corner hole which is bordered by two sides.
The drill bit will go in very easily, and it should take less than a second of drilling to punch through. Hold down some part of the spiral with your thumb to ensure it doesn't spin with the drill bit.
Step 4: Make the Mounting Handles
Originally I tried mounting these with only a jump ring through a hole drilled in the metal; the result was a very cock-eyed spiral because the weight was only being held on one side. To achieve spirals that hang evenly, you'll need a center mount to balance the weight.
Repeat for All 10 Spirals:
Cut a length of wire longer than you'll need, about 2 or 3 times the diameter of the spiral
Thread it through both holes
On one hole: loop the wire back through; pull tight. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then cut excess wire and fold it over.
Repeat the same looping process to secure wire to the other hole. Important: leave some extra length in the middle so it slopes down to each hole from the center (see picture).
Step 5: Attach the Jump Rings
Repeat for All 10 Spirals:
Use needle-nose pliers to gently open each jump ring. Slip each ring onto the mounting handles on the spirals. Close the rings by squeezing with pliers.
Step 6: Secure the Jump Rings in Place
Repeat for All 10 Spirals:
Firmly hold the spiral by the jump ring, centered on the wire.
Use your other hand to twist the spiral in 3 to 4 full circles. The wire will begin to twist up which is exactly what we want. This will lock the jump ring in place and keep the weight hanging from a center point, which will result in a nicely dangling spiral that isn't cock-eyed.
Important: If using very thin wire like 28 guage, do not over-twist; Make no more than 4 full rotations of the spiral, otherwise the thin wire can snap. (Ask me how I know about that... did it on my first one and had to re-thread it.)
Step 7: Make a Slip Knot to Prepare for Crochet Chain
If you've never made a slip knot before, it's easy! There's also many different ways to do it. Here's my method:
Wrap the yarn around your index finger
Pinch the crossing point with your other hand.
Make a loop out of the working end (the yarn attached to the ball or skein).
Stick the working end loop through the first loop you made
Pull it out the other side, and tighten. Adjust the slip knot to fit on your crochet hook (Since I didn't have a proper size crochet hook for 3 strands of yarn, I just tried to keep my stitching loose).
Step 8: Crochet the Chain
Crochet 10 feet of chain. It sounds like a lot, but it goes really quickly once you get into it! And there's only one row, so once you're done, you're done.
Put the slip knot on the crochet hook. You don't want it on there very tight, because you need room to pull yarn through.
Hold the working end (yarn attached to ball) up over your left hand index finger, while using your other left-hand fingers to lightly hold the short end of the yarn.
Move the hook over the front on the left, and swing to the back and clockwise, turning the hook as you move it. (See pictures).
As the yarn is wrapped around the hook, pull back towards the slip knot and pull the yarn through, creating another loop on the hook while losing the old one.
Repeat this process for 10 feet of length.
Step 9: Finish the Chain
When you're done crocheting, cut the yarn that is attached to the ball.
Pull the crochet needle directly up, which will pull the short tail through the previous loop, locking it in.
Tie a couple extra knots for security, then trim any extra yarn.
Step 10: Attach Spirals to Chain
Use needle-nose pliers to open each jump ring and slide it over a strand or two of yarn in the chain.
I planned to have 1 spiral per foot of chain. Measure in 6 inches from one end, attach a spiral, then attach the remaining 9 spirals 12 inches apart. There will be 6 inches of loose chain on each end.
Step 11: Hang It Up!
Here's the best part! (...or should I say, party? ;) I think this design really lends itself to a zig-zag hanging pattern, but anything works with these!
Here's some tips for displaying and handling:
- You'll notice these "tangle" easily while you're transporting them. The "tangle" is worse than meets the eye, and when you get desperate, remember these words: follow the spiral. When the yarn looks impossibly intertwined in the spiral, all that really happened was it circled the metal and ended up on the inside. To un-do this, take the yarn and follow the spiral in the opposite direction, towards the outside. It'll come!
- That same "tangle" can actually make a cool vertical hanging pattern. If you circle the yarn to the inside of each spiral, it will hang right through the center which looks awesome when hanging vertically (see in the second picture).
- For storage, I would recommend taking 5 minutes to remove the spirals from the chain and storing them in a box to avoid damage to the aluminum shapes. Being easy to bend makes them a dream to make, but it also makes them very susceptible to damage if not stored properly.
I hope you had as much fun making these as I did designing them!
Runner Up in the