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Wire-wrapped fern bracelet

Adorn your wrist with a wrapped wire bracelet
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This stunning 7-in. (17.8cm) bracelet is formed from brass craft wire. You can also use silver or gold-filled wire.
Ferns have been with us for more than 300 million years. The fiddlehead fern, named for its resemblance to the scroll at the top of a fiddle, inspired this bracelet. The young ferns are a New England delicacy and appear on menus and in markets from May to early July. A fern frond is the leafy part of the plant. The frond is divided into two main parts — the “stipe,” or stalk, and the blade.

SUPPLIES

  • Craft wire:
    • 20-gauge (0.8mm), round, dead-soft, 5 ft. (1.5m)
    • 24-gauge (0.5mm), round, dead-soft, 48 in. (1.2m)
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers: chainnose, flatnose, roundnose
  • Fine-point marking pen (optional)
  • Wooden skewer or chopstick
  • Dowel: 1 1⁄2 in. (38mm) or smaller
  • Spool or cup

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the center frond

Cut a 5-ft. (1.5m) piece of 20-gauge (0.8mm) round wire. Find the center of the wire. Bend the wire at the center point with your fingers. Place the bent wire on a work surface with the bend facing you.
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PHOTO 1
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PHOTO 2
From the center bend, measure 1⁄2 in. (13mm) to the left, and use roundnose pliers to make a 90º bend. Repeat on the right, bending so the ends point in opposite directions (PHOTO 1). You’ll use the length of wire to the right to make the right side of the bracelet and the wire to the left to make the left side of the bracelet.
Working on the right side, measure 3⁄8 in. (9.5mm) from the last bend and bend the wire 180º to point left. Measure 3⁄8 in. (9.5mm) from the last bend and bend the wire 90º. Use your thumb and finger to gently arch the wire to the right (PHOTO 2). Repeat with the wire on the left side.
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PHOTO 3

Make the frond blades

Working on the right side, measure 5⁄8 in. (16mm) from the last bend and make a 90º bend in the wire to the right. Measure 3⁄8 in. (9.5mm) from the last bend and create a tight 180º bend (PHOTO 3). Measure 3⁄8 in. (9.5mm) from the last bend and make a 90º bend to the right to complete the first frond blade.

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PHOTO 4
Repeat the series of bends to make four more frond blades, measuring 1⁄4 in. (6.5mm) between each blade and increasing the length from the base to the tip of each by 1⁄32 in. (1mm) (PHOTO 4).
Make five more blades, decreasing the length from the base to the tip of each blade by 1⁄32 in. (1mm).
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PHOTO 5

Make the fiddlehead curl clasp

Measure and mark a point 11⁄4 in. (32mm) from the last frond blade. Bend the wire 180º at the marked point. Place one jaw of your roundnose pliers in the bend and gently twist clockwise (PHOTO 5). Keep both wires flat and parallel while allowing the outside wire to adjust in length.

Finish making the frond blades
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PHOTO 6
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PHOTO 7
With the remaining outside wire, work back to the center by making mirror images of the frond blades (PHOTO 6). With the left wire, repeat making the frond blades and the fiddlehead curl clasp. There should be a total of ten pairs of frond blades on each side of the bracelet, ending at the center (PHOTO 7).
Shape the frond blades
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PHOTO 8
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PHOTO 9
Use flatnose pliers to tightly squeeze the tips of each frond blade, being careful to keep the wire flat and parallel (PHOTO 8). Spread the fronds open by pulling them slightly apart with your hands. Make a leaf shape by placing a wooden skewer or chopstick in the middle of each blade and using roundnose pliers to close each base (PHOTO 9).
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PHOTO 10

Bind the frond stalks

Cut a 20-in. (50.8cm) piece of 24-gauge (0.5mm) wire. Place the bracelet so that a curl clasp is facing you. Line each frond blade up with its mirror blade. Start with the first pair closest to the curl clasp. Leaving 1 in. (25.5mm) of the 24-gauge (0.5mm) binding wire as a tail, cross the wire over the top of a blade and wrap around both stalks (PHOTO 10).

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PHOTO 11
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FIGURE 1
Cross the wire over the top of the next blade to the left, and wrap around the base (PHOTO 11). Continue binding the frond (FIGURE 1).
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FIGURE 2
Continue the binding pattern (FIGURE 2), stopping at the center of the bracelet. Wrap the binding wire around the frond stalks twice more, ending at the underside of the bracelet. Thread the extra binding wire under the wraps, pull it tight, and then clip the excess for a smooth finish.
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PHOTO 12
Repeat binding the frond stalks on the other side of the bracelet, stopping at the center (PHOTO 12). Finish the binding wire as you did on the right side.
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PHOTO 13
To finish each half of the clasp, wrap the 1-in. (25.5mm) tail of binding wire at the end of the bracelet around the frond stalks twice, ending at the underside of the bracelet. Finish any extra wire as you did before (PHOTO 13).
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PHOTO 14

Bind the center frond

Work with the underside of the bracelet facing up. Position the extra wire from each side of the bracelet to align with the frond stalks of the center frond blades. Cut an 8-in. (20.3cm) piece of 24-gauge (0.5mm) binding wire. Keeping all four frond-stalk wires flat, wrap the binding wire twice around the frond stalks at the base of the center frond blades, capturing the extra wire from each side of the bracelet (PHOTO 14). Trim the extra wire from each side of the bracelet as close to the wraps as possible.

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FIGURE 1
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PHOTO 15
Follow the binding pattern in FIGURE 1 to bind the center fronds. Wrap the remaining binding wire around the base below the previous wraps. End at the underside of the bracelet. Finish any extra wire as you did before (PHOTO 15).
Shape the bracelet
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PHOTO 16
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PHOTO 17
Curve the bracelet by placing it lengthwise on a small-diameter dowel (1 1⁄2 in. [38mm] or smaller) and gently curving the frond tips down (PHOTO 16). Laying the bracelet right-side up, shape a sharp V by drawing up the ends (PHOTO 17)
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PHOTO 18
Click on images to enlarge.
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PHOTO 19
Gently curve the flared ends into an arch (PHOTO 18). Curve the bracelet around a spool or cup (PHOTO 19).

Adjust the bracelet’s fit

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The bracelet is flexible enough for custom adjustments. If the bracelet is too large, make the V deeper. If the bracelet is too small, make the V shallower. It is possible to stretch the bracelet by pulling gently on each side.
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PHOTO 20
Adjust the clasp to be more secure by pushing the tip of the right curl clasp backward and pulling the tip of the left curl clasp forward. This will permit them to interlock (PHOTO 20).
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