Project: Colour Wheels

Use a simple weaving technique to create woven spirals in multiple colours. By Sue-Mason Burns


Sue is a wirework designer and maker, originally from New Zealand, now living and working in Birmingham where she creates her unique range of wirework jewellery from her home studio. With this design, Sue has found a way to use up all those scraps of wire that might be hanging around in your workroom. Each section of colour uses a short piece of wire, which you could also mix up if your scraps are longer or shorter for a different effect. There is great scope for variation with this design. You could use a single colour for each spiral, and get the multicolour effect from using different coloured wheels. You could also use shorter or longer lengths of colour for more or less colour effect. The possibilities are seemingly endless.


  • 3m x 1mm (18 gauge) copper wire 
  • Approx. 60 x 40cm lengths of 0.4mm (26 gauge) coloured wire
  • 5mm, 8mm and 10mm copper jumprings
  • Flush cutters
  • Round nose pliers
  • Flat nose pliers
  • Medium bail-making pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Tronex angled flush cutters


  • Be careful with the tension of the weave. If it is too tight you will have trouble getting the weaving wire through at the next level.
  • Pull the weaving wire through the previous level of weaving very carefully to avoid removing the coloured plating from the wire.
  • If you find the previous layer of weaving too tight to fit the weaving wire through, use the tip of a bead reamer to part the wires slightly and thread through the gap.




Cut two 30cm lengths of 1mm copper wire. Use round nose pliers to make a tight loop at one end of a length of wire, then continue forming the wire around this loop to form a closed spiral. Hold the spiral with flat nose pliers and use your fingers to guide the wire around the spiral. Repeat for the remaining piece of wire, making this spiral slightly smaller than the first.



Cut a 40cm length of coloured wire. Coil five times around the frame wire with the smaller spiral. Position the wire with the larger spiral so that it covers the smaller spiral and the straight end sits parallel with the wire underneath. Coil the coloured wire around both wires together, then five times around the lower wire. Repeat this pattern, coiling five times around the lower wire and once around both wires.



As you continue weaving in this way, begin to shape the woven wires around the central spiral so that they follow the spiral shape. When you reach the open part at the end of the central spiral, on the third coil of the five coil set, thread the wire through the previous layer to hold the shape together. Continue weaving as before. Attach the wire like this every fifth set of weaving.



When you reach the end of the length of coloured wire, add a new colour. Coil twice in the set of five coils with the existing colour and leave a short tail. Add the new colour, again leaving a short tail, and continue with the remaining three coils of the set of five. Continue weaving as before with the new colour. Repeat until the circle reaches the desired size.



Wrap both 1mm tail wires around the smaller jaw of medium bail-making pliers (or a 7mm mandrel). Ensure that the wires remain parallel as they are wound around the mandrel. Form a full circle with both wires and take the tail wires to the back of the spiral. Remove from the mandrel and hold the formed loop firmly with flat nose pliers.



Wrap the 1mm tail wires around the base of the loop, finishing again at the rear of the spiral. Keep the wires parallel by wrapping them separately, in turn. Make sure you keep a firm grip on the loop as you wrap with the flat nose pliers to stop the loop from distorting as you move the tail wires. Trim and secure the tail wires at the base of the loop.



Lay the spiral flat and face down. Pull each set of two tail wires where you added new colours straight and flat. Trim as close to the frame wire as you can and ensure that the ends lie flat against the frame. Repeat for each set of tail wires. Repeat these steps to make three further spirals in this size, and three in a larger size, beginning with 50cm frame wires.



Make a chain using 10mm, 8mm and 5mm copper jumprings. Use two 5mm rings at each connection to connect 10mm and 8mm jumprings alternately. Continue until the chain is the correct length to hang at collarbone level on the wearer (usually around 40cm). Finish with the smaller jumpring size and attach the components of a toggle clasp to each end of the chain with a 5mm jumpring.



Find the centre of the chain. Use two 5mm jumprings to attach a large spiral to this jumpring. Moving out from the centre on both sides of the chain, skip one jumpring and attach smaller spirals to the next jumpring on each side. Repeat this for the two remaining large spirals and finally for the two remaining small spirals.


Make a pendant and earrings



Make a large spiral and hang from a handmade chain made with linked 5mm jumprings. Finish with a toggle clasp.




Make two smaller spirals, one a mirror image of the other. Hang from handmade earwires.


Copper wire, coloured wire:



Laurel Guilfoyle, Sue Mason-Burns




Article Details

  • Date 10th March 2017
  • Tags Project
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