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Wire symmetry made easy

Shape your leaf forms two at a time to make perfectly matched pairs.
Wiresymmetrymadeeasyhero

Symmetry can be beautiful. But it can also be an annoying goal to try to achieve when you’re shaping two wire leaves by hand and trying to get them to match. I used to create one link and then painstakingly shape another in hopes of matching it. But now I’ve discovered that it’s easier to shape two links at once. To make each set of leaf forms, I fold one long wire in half and then bend both halves together, shaping them as one. When I’m done, I snip them apart at the initial bend, and I have two precisely matched forms.

SUPPLIES

  • Sterling silver wire: 20-gauge (0.8 mm), half-hard, 4 yd. (3.7 m)
  •  Pair of ear wires
  • 2–6 jump rings: 6 mm inside diameter
  • Pliers: roundnose, chainnose, flatnose
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle files

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the large leaf forms. Cut about 24 in. (61.0 cm) of 20-gauge (0.8 mm) wire. Locate the center of the wire, and grasp it with chainnose pliers. Make a U bend (A) so that the two curved sides meet and parallel each other, creating one gently curved, doubled wire (PHOTO 1).

Tip!

To create the fluid lines in this necklace-and-earring set, you’ll take advantage of coiled sterling silver wire’s inherent curve. So don’t straighten your wire to measure it. Here are tips for measuring coiled wire, to keep those lovely curves. 

Measuring along a curve can be tricky. You can’t straighten the wire out too much or you’ll lose the curve that you need. So what’s a jeweler to do? Try these suggestions, or work out a system of your own.

  • The initial longer measurements of each leaf form don’t need to be precise. Pull the wire out just enough to roughly measure it while retaining its curve.
  • For more accuracy, measure a piece of string to the length you need and hold the string along the wire to determine where to cut it.
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Photo 1
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Photo 2

Make the large leaf forms. Work with chainnose pliers, grasping the doubled wire together to make each bend. Measure 2 1/2 in. (64 mm) from bend A, and grasp the wire at that point (B). Bend the shorter end of the wire over the pliers until it touches the longer end (PHOTO 2), creating bend B. 

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Photo 3
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Photo 4
Measure 3 in. (76 mm) from bend B. Make another bend (C) so the long wire parallels the first curve (PHOTO 3). Measure 2 1/2 in. (64 mm) from bend C on the long wire, and make another bend (D) (PHOTO 4). Tighten bend D so that the wire ends overlap the leaf form.
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Photo 5
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Photo 6

Finish the large leaf forms. Holding the doubled wire together, adjust the curves until you like how they look. Use wire cutters to snip the wire at bend A — you’ll now have two mirrored leaf forms (PHOTO 5).

Establish the front side of one form. With the tip of your roundnose pliers, grasp the tip (previously bend A) of the shorter wire, and roll the pliers toward the back of the form, creating a small hook (PHOTO 6).

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Photo 7
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Photo 8

Attach the hook to the outside wire, creating a leaflike shape. Use flatnose pliers to crimp the hook closed (PHOTO 7). 

Use wire cutters to trim the longer wire end 1/8 in. (3 mm) past where it crosses the outside wire. Use roundnose pliers to make a hook at the wire tip. Attach the hook to the outside wire, and crimp (PHOTO 8).

For complete project instructions click here to download and print this PDF.

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