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September 11, 2013

Making Copper Rings for Beading

Don't you hate it when you are looking for a certain jewelry finding or supply, but just can't find it!  That's been me lately.  I've wanted to play some more with brick stitch or seed beading around a ring, similar to what I did in these simple brick stitch hoops, but using a ring instead of an open hoop.  I've looked, but I just can't find simple rings in a base wire with the right shapes and thickness to use for what I have in mind.

Not surprisingly, I finally decided to make what I've been looking for.  These are 20g copper links - round and oval shapes.  The circles are in two sizes, 7/8 inch in diameter and 1.25 inches in diameter.  The larger ovals are 1 inch by 1.25 inches and the smaller ones are 3/4 inch by 7/8 inch.  This was just a test run - I didn't really know what size I needed or wanted.  Just that I need some beading links.  Now that I see them, I think I'll make some smaller ones, and probably some diamond - or square shapes too (depends on how you look at them!).

To make the shapes, I used mandrels from Bead Smith.  They are very handy for making rings as well as earring armatures or consistent shapes like drops.  I have numbered each 'step' on the mandrel and make notes in my sketchbook which size I used.  I thought they were a bit cheap at first because they are plastic, but now that is one of my favorite features.  They are super light weight and really easy for me to bring to softball and baseball games, which is when I do a lot of the prep work for my projects.

On another note, this is the first time I have used the easy flow paste solder I recently bought from Fire Mountain Gems.  It definitely melts quicker than the medium that I was previously using.  I really like it.  Soldering all of these rings was super quick.  And they cleaned up quick with my new file from Harbor Freight too.

A bummer from last night is that after many years of use, my tumbler belt finally broke.  I had bought a spare on my last trip to Harbor Freight (I must have known it was time), but it didn't fit well.  Maybe I didn't put it on correctly, but it wasn't tight enough so the barrel wasn't turning as much as it should have.  I ended up using a rubber band and now it is working great again.  I have lots of rubber bands, so I should be good for a while now!

And last but not least, the Orchard Supply Hardware near me is going out of business and everything is at least 20-40% off.    That was a great opportunity for me to run in and get my favorite packages of copper wire for under $3.00 each.  I think I bought all of the remaining packages.  There was (1) 18g, (2) 20g, (2) 22g and (1) 24g.  The wire itself is not the best quality - try Thunderbird Supply for that - but I love the packages for portable beading.  It has a centimeter and inches ruler on the back, the wire doesn't get tangled in my bag and the wire is sometimes square'ish which can be useful depending on what you're doing.  Of the packages I bought last night, the 18g is round, the two packages of 20g are definitely square and the other packages are round.  All fine for me.  I just finished a package of 20g on the rings, so the timing was perfect!

Oh - and did I mention I did it again?!.. I ordered more beads from FMG.  I wish I would stop - but I can't help myself!  As I get more enamored of copper, the more rustic beads appeal to me.  Of course, I should have decided that before I invested in lots of AAA fine gemstones for the past few years.  I'll post my goodies later this week.  They should be here Thursday.


  1. I have been thinking about making my own rings to for use in chain and earring design. Glad to see yours. I was wondering what solder to try. Thanks.

    1. These rings are very easy to make. There is also copper solder, but I have never tried it. Silver works fine as long as your join is close. Typically you can file it so the only thing left is a small silver line that is barely noticeable.