Coiled terminal wire bracelet

February 6, 2012

What is more fun that recreating a piece of jewelry commonly worn during the Magyar conquest era?   This project uses a minimum amount of tools and is really quite easy to complete.  Lets get started!

Bracelets were a common item of jewelry in the Magyar Conquest, worn by both men and women at all levels of society.  They were commonly worn in pairs, even multiples, and were often used to gather wide sleeves of their garments.  Wire bracelets were made of silver, bronze or iron and from a single rod.

Coiled terminal wire bracelets conquest era graves

Photo credit courtesy of Ancient Hungarians, pub 1996. pg 314

Recreated conquest era magyar bracelets.

Recreated conquest era magyar bracelets.










In reading through Ancient Hungarians, I was unable to find a modern wire gauge measurements for any of the bracelets.  One of the wire bracelet artifacts measured .3 cm which works out to about 8 gauge.  When I talked to my jewelry guy, he thought I was crazy.  At his recommendation,  I purchased 14 gauge, dead soft sterling silver wire to make my recreations.  While there, I also purchased some 14 gauge copper wire to with which to practice.


To complete this project, you’ll need:

  • Two 1/4 inch (ish) wooden dowels.  Pencils would probably work.
  • Wire cutters (semi-flush)
  • rawhide hammer
  • steel block (on which to planish)
  • planishing hammer (to flatten the ends)
  • half round, half straight pair of pliers (to curl the ends)  Could also use round nose pliers.  I don’t think I would use chain or flat nose pliers.
  • Bracelet mandrel (because I happen to have one, not because you really need it)
  • Approximately 28 inches of cheap wire with which to practice.  Same amount of good wire for the actual  product.

The first thing to do is cut your wire and fold it roughly in thirds leaving a couple inch “tails” as in the photograph below.

folded wire

Pick up the wire.  Place the dowels or pencils in the bends of wire and hold on to them as if they were handles, letting the wire come through your fingers.  The tails should be in the palms of your hands.  Keeping the wire under tension by pulling gently outward, begin twisting the wire wrapped dowels in opposite directions.  You will need to reposition your hands every 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

The more you twist, the more work hardened the metal will become, making it more difficult to twist.  Remember to control the tails, because they will want to wrap around the twisting wire.

If you have the ability to anneal your wire to soften it, you may do that once or twice during this process to get a really nice tight twist to your bracelet.  I’m not set up to do that right now.

planishtailbraceletOnce you have the desired amount of twist in your bracelet, planish the ends of the wire for the coiled terminals.  Using your planishing hammer and steel block, flatten the wire close to the loop as possible without marring the loop wire. (Tool marks are really noticeable.)

Cut off the extra wire of your tail.


024Use your round nosed pliers to coil the wire ends and  nudge them inside the wire loops to create the coiled terminals.

If you have a bracelet mandrel, wrap your twisted wire around the mandrel at the correct size for your wrist and gently hammer into shape using the rawhide hammer.



One Response to Coiled terminal wire bracelet

  1. Daniel Morgan
    June 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Enjoyed making this bracelet. Very easy should do well in my wire wrap class. I too enjoy the SCA. Thanks Daniel Morgan (Talan Gof).

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