Intro: Vintage (or Walmart!) Button Cocktail Rings
Lavish soirées with a 5-piece orchestra in the corner of a grand ballroom. Black tie affairs with the well-to-do and who-knows-who. Dry martinis sipped out of a crystal glass and olives eaten between perfectly polished lips. And glittering, gleaming jewelry dripping from ears, necks and fingers.
This might be the usual setting where one might find a beautiful cocktail ring, but let's be honest, who can afford the expense every night (ok... or at all)? But now you don't need to miss out on a moment of the glitz and glamour with this instructable to make yourself an extremely fashionable, extremely durable and extreeemely affordable cocktail ring made of buttons and wire!
Step 1: Tools of the Trade
What you'll need:
- a LOT of buttons.
(Raid your button stash, your mother's, your grandmother's! They have lovely vintage buttons just begging to be used! Or if all else fails, stores like Walmart sell individual buttons or even mix bags, which give a great variety)
- some 18-20 gauge hardware wire.
(I actually bought mine at the local dollar store... for a dollar and twenty-five cents.)
- 1 or 2 pairs of pliers
(jewelers or nylon-jaw if you have them. If not, just wrap the jaws in masking tape to avoid marring the wire)
- 1 pair of hardware wire cutters
- a ring mandrel (that round, black thing) or a pen/other cylinder that fits your ring size
(slide a ring you currently have on pens till you find one that's pretty snug, or even a tad too small)
- a material placemat to cut down on "clink-clink!" noise from the buttons
Step 2: Get Ready... Set...
Spend a few minutes to make up some interesting ring combinations. You can make the rings as big or small, tall or not so tall as you want them to be. I usually pick out a few interesting beads to add to my rings too, to make a colour pop or make it a bit daintier. Don't limit yourself though; if you want a hardware washer or o-ring as a focal, then by all means!
And you don't have to make them all, you know. I didn't make all the combinations I set up, but it did give me plenty of ideas.
Step 3: Starting the First Ring
I'll be showing you how to make a few models, starting with the fastest and easiest ring to make.
First steps are to lay out your tools, including the button set you chose, your wire cutters and wire. You can then cut a piece of wire about 9 to 10 inches long (or longer, if you want to be sure, but I find 9-10" doesn't make too much waste while being comfortable to work with).
Fold the wire in half, and push it through the top button of your ring. Make sure that the part you want facing up has the wire loop on it, and is not facing the two wire ends. Next, feed the rest of the buttons on in the order that you want.
Once this is done, turn the button assembly over and cross the wires flat against the last button. Carefully twist them so that they turn around each other and end up facing the opposite direction they started in. So essentially, left wire now goes right, right wire now goes left.
Step 4: Makin' the Band
Next, place the button assembly on the mandrel, approximately where you want to size it (you can adjust this in a sec). I usually place it half a size smaller on the mandrel than I want my finished ring to be, because it always gets bigger during the making. So in my photo, I've placed it on the 5.5 size because I'm really making a size 6.
Bring the two wires around the mandrel, making sure to keep them on the same side as they were when you made the last twist (meaning, don't cross them. Keep the top wire on top and the bottom wire on the bottom). Wrap them back around to the bottom of the ring, and pass them underneath. They'll now be sticking out on both sides of the ring's "undercarriage". This will give you a nice open-concept look to your ring band.
Next, take each wire one at a time and wrap it clockwise (or counter, depending on the natural flow of the wires) around the base of the ring. You can wrap each a half-turn and then the other, then back to the first, etc. if you want, to help keep the spiral even. I find that once you get good, you can just hold the mandrel between your knees and wrap with both hands (keep it clean, people).
Once you've gone around about 2 or 3 times, cut the wires as close as you can to the spiral. Finally, take the smallest nose pliers you have and tuck in the ends, so they don't scratch you (this may need adjusting when you try it on... ouch).
And that's it! One fabulous cocktail ring, all ready to go!
Step 5: Let's Make Another!
Sucker for punishment? Well, OK! Here's a one-button model, with a little spiral on the top.
First difference from the last model is that where you pushed the wire down through the buttons in the first step, now you want to push it up. Fold the two wires parallel to each other (do not cross!), as this is the beginning of your spiral. Very gently, start twisting your wires one at a time, half a turn at a time, around in the spiral shape. I find it helps to keep your non-working thumb pressed down on the spiral to keep it from folding up.
Once you've filled up the button space with spiral, make a right-angle turn in each of the wires so that they go off the button in opposite directions.
Next, bend the wire down and around to the bottom of the button, and again, twist the wires. This will seem a little bulky, and will make the ring sit a bit higher on your finger. But if you use a small enough button, there won't be enough weight on it to fall over, and it will just sit pretty as you please on the top.
For the band, all you have to do is follow the same steps as the first ring, and twist the wires underneath to finish. In these photos, I've shown how you can also use a pen or other cylindrical object to make a suitably sized ring, if you don't have a mandrel.
Step 6: A Different Kind of Band
And finally, one more kind of band finish, called the "wrapping" technique.
This ring starts off with either of the button stringing methods, and picks up when you bring the wires down and around the mandrel. Remember how I told you not to cross the wires and STRESSED that the wires should not be crossed? Well, now I want you to cross them. What can I say? I'm fickle that way.
So essentially, you should bring the top wire to the bottom of the ring, and the bottom wire to the top of the ring when you bring them around to make the band. With me so far?
Next, cross the wire ends perpendicular over the two wires making the band, but do not continue. Instead, clip the wire ends until they're only about 1-1.5 inches long. These little wire ends now have to be pulled through the band with pliers through the ring band to the other side and up around the wire bands, so that they "wrap" around. Once you've done three wraps, cut the ends and tuck.
Step 7: In Retrospect...
These rings are a LOT of fun to make, and really quite easy. Wire is a pretty forgiving medium, and you can try all sorts of things with it, straighten it out and try again. And don't be afraid to try things that might potentially end in disaster, because that's how we learn, right?
So have fun, and show me what you come up with, wearable or not! Go on... you deserve something fancy.