Intro: Tornado Bead Bracelet
This Instructable tells you how to create unique and intriguing Tornado beads, and then how to combine them to make an eye-catching, easy bracelet. You can make these beads with many types of wire...brass, silver, colored copper, or steel. Try using a heavier gauge wire such as 18 or 20 to make a focal bead...lots of possibilities! Thanks for stopping by.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
For the beads...
- 22 gauge uncoated copper wire
- Uncoated wire will patina (oxidize) with age. It will also take a chemical patina.
- Brass, bronze, silver, steel, and colored craft wires are good options for these beads
- TIP – To determine how much wire you'll need to make enough beads for a bracelet, use these average bracelet lengths to calculate the number beads. Average length bracelet for women 7 ½ - 8”; for men 8 ½ to 9”.
For the bracelet...
- 1mm leather cord - length is dependent on finished size
TIP - If you’re not sure about this measurement, use a piece of string to work it out before cutting your leather cord. Remember that average bracelet lengths for women are 7 ½ - 8”; for men 8 ½ to 9".
Total cord length = Finished bracelet length x 2 + 2"
- Jewelry wire cutters - be sure that the cutters you use are right for the wire. Cutters designated for copper usually are not strong enough for steel.
- 5/16” diameter threaded rod
- Round-nose pliers
- Small binder clip
Resources -Craft stores are a good resource for the materials and tools in this Instructable. You might need to stop by your local hardware store for the threaded rod.
Step 2: Prep Your Wire
Fine-gauge wire like we are using in this project is usually quite soft. To make beads that will withstand the wear of a bracelet, we need to prep the wire with this simple step known as work-hardening. This also helps to straighten the wire.
Hold one end of the wire tightly between your thumb and forefinger, then pull the wire between the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand. Keep firm pressure on the wire as you draw. After one or two pulls, the wire should be springy (indicating hardness) and straighter. Repeat as often as necessary to achieve a springy wire but not so much that the wire becomes inflexible as that will make it difficult to wrap and subject to breaking.
Note: If you opt for steel wire for this project, this step won't be necessary - steel is plenty hard right off the spool. You will want to be sure to have rags handy since steel comes oiled to prevent rust. It's messy but makes a very cool bead.
Step 3: Wrap It Up!
Wrap the end of the wire once around the round nose pliers to create a loop.
Thread that loop onto the threaded rod, and twist the rod to move the wire loop down the threads. Stop twisting when the loop is positioned approximately 1” from the top of the rod.
Hold the loop firmly and begin wrapping the wire into the threads of the rod for approximately ½”.
Build the bead by loosely wrapping the wire back over the previous layer of wire. Repeat the layering wraps until you have used the length of the wire. Keep in mind that to get the random look of these beads, don't try to make the layers too precise.
To secure the wire, use tweezers to tuck the end tightly under one of the coils. This will insure that the wire doesn’t catch on anything once it is strung on the bracelet.
Step 4: Optional...patina
If you want to add a chemical patina to your beads, do this before you string them.
I used liver of sulfur on the beads shown on the finished bracelet pictured with this project. It’s easy to use (but rather stinky) and creates a nice brownish patina on copper, brass and bronze. Note that chemical patina, such as liver of sulfur, will not change the finish of colored craft wire.
Otherwise, you can leave the metal to patina (through oxidation) with age.
Step 5: Make the Bracelet
Fold the leather cord in half. Holding the two strands together, tie a knot approximately ½” below the fold. This will create the loop for the hook closure.
String your finished beads onto the cords, and thread the cords through the eye of closure hook. Fasten the small binder clip onto the four cords below the hook. The clip will hold the beads in place without damaging the leather cord
Verify that you have the right number of beads for the desired length by either laying the bracelet against a ruler, or wrapping it around your wrist.
When you are happy with the length and the look of your bracelet, tie a knot securely against the eye of the hook, and clip any excess cord. Add a drop of super glue to the knot to ensure that it doesn’t work free.
That's it! I hope you like this Instructable. Please let me know any questions or suggestions.
Step 6: Variations
Here's a variation of the Tornado bead bracelet that I wanted to share with you... Steel beads paired with lovely white pearls, closed with a sterling silver toggle closure. In this version the pearls are strung on beading wire, and the Tornado beads are strung on beading chain. I'll continue to post variations on this design in the coming week.
Be sure to let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by!