greenlantern

Wire:

The wire combos that I use are 16ga core with a 26ga weave.

OR 18ga core with a 26ga or 28ga weave.
24g is also a good choice for weaving, wraps faster, but is chunkier in appearance.

You will need a 2 inch piece of wire for the hinge that is one gauge larger in size than your core. It’s very difficult to make a good hinge unless your hinge wire is slightly stiffer than your core.

Copper: is an excellent choice of metals for this project due to it’s malleability.

Fine Silver: is my preferred choice in wire due to it’s great malleability and that it is easier to keep it from kinking in long lengths and won’t work harden as quickly as sterling.

Sterling silver: I’m sure it can be done in sterling but I have never tried it.

Cut about 2.5 feet of your core wire. You should straighten it and do any other prep you normally do.

Using your round nose pliers, begin a spiral at one end. You may want to mark the pliers in order to use the same spot when you start a matching lid later on.

Spiral your core wire around for 1 whole coil. Begin to wrap on your weaving wire on the second coil. I cut my weaving wire at 5 foot lengths. Wrap on for about 3/16″ or a 1/4″.

Continue shaping your wire around the spiral. Loop once around the inner coil.

Continue on like this until you have coiled around 3 whole times. Normally I would go 4 times around, but I’m trying to keep this project short. When you have trouble slipping the wire through, use a sewing needle to spread the wire apart and make a path for your weave. I recommend that you loop around the inner coil roughly every 1/4″.

Notice that the spiral in my picture below is a symmetrical spiral. I marked where the start position is with permanent marker. If you want the cup and lid of your box to fit nicely together, you need to understand the principle of a symmetrical spiral. The principle is also useful for more advanced weave designs.

You can learn about symmetrical spirals here…{{{Add link}}}

Now start building the walls of the box. I shoved my core wire over to sit on top of the third coil like this:

Now you can keep going with that same weave through the entire design if you like. It can take 4-5 hours to do all this weaving. So I recommend that until you feel confident, that you move to an open and erratic weave for now, so you can move ahead to practicing the hinge and the clasp. My open weave looks like this:

Continue to spiral around until you like the height. Always complete each coil of the spiral so that you stay symmetrical. If you are happy with the height, go another one half way around your last coil. My project went around 6.5 times.

I transferred my ‘coil start’ marking to the top of my wire. The marking at the top of the picture is the start of my next coil. The one at the bottom is the half way point. The more precise you are able to do this the nicer the fit between the parts will be. Basket makers use a circle template with degrees marked off to help them. Or you can use a protractor. Or you can eye ball it. I often just use my eye.

Use your flat nose pliers to bend your wire outwards at least 90 degrees or more. Be sure you don’t bend it right at your half way mark, but slightly to the right of that.

Use your round nose pliers to loop the wire back again.

Use flat nose pliers to make a second bend on the left side to get your wire back to spiraling again.

Take a piece of your core wire and bend it in half. Slip it through your loop to ensure that it will fit. This is your last chance to make adjustments to the width of the loop if necessary.

Continue to weave your spiral back up near the start position and set it aside for now.

Now you get to do that all over again! When you make your lid, spiral in the same direction, and build your wall in the same direction that you did for your box bottom.

My lid is 5 coils high. So I went around 4 1/2 coils. I’ve transferred all my ‘coil start’ marks to the top where I can see them. Use flat nose pliers to bend your wire 90″ away from the spiral, just slightly to the right of the half way mark.

Bend your wire back so that you leave about 1/2 inch tail. Normally I would use a 5/8 inch tail, but this project is extra small.

I like to add on a bead here as I carry my weaving to the other side. It covers up a tiny gap I don’t enjoy, and gives the project a more complete look.

Finish your weaving up near your start position.

Now is a good time to hold your box and lid together to see if all lines up as you hoped. You can redraw the line of your start position or make adjustments needed. Every box is custom fitted and you have to use some judgement as you make it.

Now bend each wire out 90 degrees from your spiral using your flat nose pliers. The bend point will always be just off center about the width of your wire.

Take a moment to straighten out your wires, so that they will lay nicely next to each other when box and lid are in place.

Begin to make your hinge coil about 1 1/2 – 2 inches away from the box. For the mandrel wire use one gauge larger than your core wire. Keep the wire coming from the box at 90 degrees to your mandrel. Let the tail part rotate off to the side so you can get a good grip on the mandrel, like this:

Now grab your mandrel and coil and move the mandrel towards the box to continue coiling. This method allows you to make a coil that will butt right up next to the box and puts minimal stress on your box and weave.

Now do that to both the box and the lid so that they look like this:

Now is the time to finish any weaving left and cut your tails. I often add extra loops at the stress point of the hinges and the clasp to help strengthen those areas.

Now you have to adjust and custom fit your hinge in two different directions. Mine look like this right now.

 

Line up your hinges with each other. I used my flat nose pliers to help with this. When you get close to what you want, thread the mandrel back into the hinge and check out how the box and lid fit together. You can do more custom fitting and shaping with your fingers so that the lid likes to fall nicely up and down over the box.

The more you do a good job on shaping and weaving your original spirals, the less custom fitting is required at this point.

When you are happy with how it looks, trim your coils to an attractive length.

 

Thread your mandrel back through the hinges. Sometimes it is difficult to thread it back through, but a tight fit is a good thing, so be patient. The tighter the mandrel fits in the hinge the nicer the box and lid fit together. Finish the ends of your mandrel with a loop and trim.

Now for the clasp. Bend an arc near where the tail and lid meet. I used a 2mm knitting needle to accomplish this.

The other end of the tail was bent back with flat nose pliers.

Now custom fit that shaped tail so that it will fit neatly inside the loop on the box bottom. You may need to angle the entire tail up or down, or reshape certain aspects of it so that it flows neatly through the loop and so that the high point on the arc will catch just underneath the loop.

The loop itself can be angled up or down with flat nose pliers to assist with the fitting. I often angle it up slightly so that it will just sit over the high point of the arc.

DONE

Final comments:

This box would have fit much better if I had not allowed the walls of the bottom spiral to flare out. If they had stayed straight it would have been the same diameter as the lid and I would have a much better fit.

Making these boxes takes practice and patience. I’ve messed up tons of them and find new ways to make mistakes every day:) With practice and patience you can do this too.

2 Comments

  1. I soooo wish I’d had this tutorial when I did my first wish basket after having seen your remarkable work. I would have struggled with it a good deal less.

    Oh and they can definitely be done in sterling. Though I usually prefer to use sterling as the core because it will work harden and add in some stability. .999 fine does work best on the wraps, though I’ve done that with 28g and with 30g sterling as well. So definitely doable.

    Lady M

    • I actually agree with your comment on sterling. Two years later I would work the core wire in sterling if I did it again. It would give more stability to the hinge area than fine silver can

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