5. Double Spiral Earrings


An introduction to chainmail

by Marilyn Gardiner

IntroductionThis is the fifth project in a series of chainmail earrings for beginners. 

This month’s chainmail weave is called Double Spiral. You may see references to its other name, Double Rope.

There is indeed a Single Spiral chain, but it doesn’t hold the spiral shape well.

As with most weaves, changes in the size of the wire and the rings can produce very different looks—just see the short and long pairs of earrings at the right.

Additional photos are at the bottom of the page.

Double Spiral Chainmail Weave

This weave is part of the Spiral family of chainmail weaves. Take a look at this website to see other weaves in this family.

The Care & Feeding of Sterling Jewelry

The most important thing you can do to care for your sterling jewelry is to store your sterling pieces in ziplock bags when you are not wearing them. Adding a anti-tarnish tab to the bag is also helpful. When I polish a chain (with no pearls or gemstones) I use a tumbler with steel shot. This method is not available to the average person, so I have been searching for alternatives for my students. A jewelry polishing cloth only cleans the outside of the chain, not all the spots where all the tarnish might be. Using a paste means scrubbing with a toothbrush. I like the idea of a more liquid product that will get to the inside of the crevices of a chain.

Instead of giving you a limited overview of solutions, I will point you to some websites that have excellent information.

First is Southwest Affinity.

Another is Robyn A. Harton Creative.

A third is an eBay Guide.

Supplies

The jump rings for the short earrings in the top photo are made from 1.0 mm diameter (18 gauge) round sterling wire.
The inside diameter (I.D) of the rings is 5 mm.
Quantity: 28

You also need 2 jump rings, 1.0 mm (18 gauge) wire, with I.D. of 3 mm. These rings are used to attach the earring finding to the earring itself.

1 pair of earring findings
• french wire, • post, • lever-back, • clip on
See: Earring Findings for examples.

Tools

2 pairs of smooth-jawed jewelers’ pliers

See Earring Project 1 for more information about pliers.

Twist tie or 3″ piece of wire

Once you have made these earrings, it would be easy to work on a more challenging project such as this bracelet.
Once you have made the bracelet, another challenge would be to use tiny rings to make these long, delicate earrings. Use 0.8 mm (20 gauge) jump rings with 2.8 mm ID.
How to: OPEN AND CLOSE JUMP RINGSTo Open a Ring
Use 2 pairs of pliers to hold the sides of a jump ring with the opening at the top (12 o’clock). To avoid warping the ring, cover most of the ring with the 2 sets of pliers. 

Hold the ring steady with your one hand while you rotate the wrist of your other hand, twisting the pliers tip away from you.

Never open up the loop by pulling it side to side—you won’t get it back into a true circle.

To Close a Ring
Use 2 pairs of pliers to hold the sides of a jump ring with the opening at the top (12 o’clock).

Pull the ring ends back together by rotating your wrists and exerting a bit of inward pressure. You may hear a “click” as the ends meet.

The goal is to have the two ends lined up exactly, with no space between them.
Move the ends back and forth by small amounts to adjust the fit. If you go a bit past where they are even, they will spring back and match exactly.

Spend the time to close each ring carefully—this will be the mark of a professional finish to your work.

Before starting your first chainmail project, practice opening and closing rings until you feel confident. After opening and closing a whole lot of rings you WILL find it easy, you WON’T leave marks on the rings, and you WILL find that the pliers become an extension of your hands.
The Project: DOUBLE SPIRAL EARRINGS
Overview: The Double Spiral Weave
The Double Spiral chain mail weave has each pair of rings placed through the previous 2 pairs. 

Notice the third pair of rings from the beginning. This pair passes through the first and second pairs of rings.

Step 1: The First 4 Rings
Close 2 rings (JR-1&2) and open several more. 

Put an open ring (JR-3) through the 2 closed rings & close it.

Put another open ring (JR-4) through the first 2 rings, and close it too.

Put a twist tie or piece of wire through the first two rings so you have a “handle” to hold onto.

Your rings should look like this photo.

Step 2: Find the Hole
Hold the twist tie & the edges of JR-1&2. 

Flip JR-3&4 upwards, and notice the hole, marked with an X, where the two pairs overlap.

See the photo.

Step 3: Add Ring 5
Insert JR-5 into that “hole”. 

See the photo.

Tip: Be sure to open the rings wide enough so that you can maneuver them into place easily.

Step 4:
Arrange Ring 5
Close the ring. 

Let it flop downwards so it’s out of the way.

See the photo.

Step 5: Add Ring 6
Insert JR-6 into the same “hole”, just above JR-5. 

See the photo.

Close the ring.

Tip: Be careful not to go through JR-5 by accident.

Step 6: Observe Rings 5 & 6
Notice in this photo that JR-5&6 go through the previous two pairs of rings.
Step 7: Find the Hole & Add Ring 7 

Push JR-5&6 upwards against JR 3&4.

You will see the hole through the center of these four rings.

Insert JR-7 into this opening.

See the photo.

Close the ring.

 

Step 8: Add Ring 8
Insert JR-8 in the same hole, just above JR-7.
See the photo.
Step 9: Observe the Pattern
This photo shows the first 4 pairs of rings. 

You can see the spiral pattern developing

Step 10: Continue the Pattern
This photo shows the first 5 pairs of rings. To keep the spiral pattern, always push the most recent pair upwards to expose the hole for the next 2 jump rings. 

Tip: The word “upwards” makes sense if the twist tie is in your left hand and the chain is horizontal. If you hold the chain and let it dangle, then you will be pushing the last pair of rings “to the right” or “clockwise”
Continue this pattern (steps 7 & 8), always adding 2 rings through the previous 2 pairs.

Stop when you have a total of 7 pairs. This is the first earring.

Make a second earring identical to the first.

Step 11: Add the Ear Wires
Use an 18 gauge, 3 mm jump ring to connect each earring to an earring finding.
Variations
Here is an interesting necklace that was a challenge to make. Six different sizes of jump rings were used to make a graduated necklace—the rings close to the clasp are smaller and made of lighter weight wire. The rings change size and weight gradually until the largest and heaviest are at the center.
VariationsThis is the pair of earrings shown above, but large, size 8, hex-cut Delicas have been added to each ring. A great way to color-coordinate earrings to wear with with a favourite top!
Copyright 2006 Marilyn Gardiner.
All Rights Reserved.

HOME l SHOP l BLOG l MAKE JEWELLERY l SHOWS l CLASSES l GALLERY l FAQ's l ABOUT l CONTACT