Finnish coil-embellished apron (part 1: Making the coils)

Completed decorated apron

Completed decorated apron

For an SCA competition I wanted to re-create the coil-embellished apron I made previously, now that I had a lot more information about how extant versions looked (from my visit in November 2015 to Hämeenlinna, Finland).

I’ll be dividing up some of the how-I-did-it posts over the next few days, because I have a LOT of photos to share 🙂

Making the coils

The extant coils are made of bronze, however I read that modern brass is similar in composition to bronze of the time, and it’s certainly far more affordable and available. I was able to find wire locally, while bronze wire was much more expensive and I’d have to order it in. This became very important because this project took a LOT of wire.

After seeing an extant example, and looking at research, I decided to mostly work with 24 gauge wire. I did also purchase 22 gauge wire, but didn’t use it on the apron.

Coiling the wire on the jig

Coiling the wire on the jig

I started off trying to use a simple rod to coil the wire, however found that it was difficult to keep the wire smooth on the rod. I decided to purchase a coil-making jig online, which came with two rods and a holder which can be affixed to a table.

Coiling the wire takes a very, very long time. The jig can only accommodate 13-15 centimetres of coils at one time, so it’s not just the coiling which takes time, but also setting up the jig for each new strip of coils.

The photo to the left shows the coils in progress, and I also shared a quick Instagram video – below.

Assembling all of the completed coil strips

Assembling all of the completed coil strips

I made a lot of coils in preparation for this project. There are a number of strips made from 24 gauge wire with the large and small jig on the left of this photo, large and small diameter 24 gauge wire coils with a non-tarnish brass wire in the middle, and large-diameter coils in 22 gauge wire on the right.

For the most part, I did the coiling entirely by hand. I did try using an electric drill to rotate the jig, but found that it was hard to maintain the consistency of the coils with the drill.

I also used a knitting needle with the same diameter as the large coils to try to expand my production speed. I was able to use the same jig holder, and used tape to fix the wire to the knitting needle. Turning the needle was a bit more tricky than the jig rod, but not terrible.

In the photos above I have a closer photo of the large and small diameter in the 24 gauge brass wire. Additionally, I have a photo showing my early attempts at coiling the wire (on the bottom) and later example when I got the hang of it a bit better.

Next up… I’ll show some of what I did with the coils!

2 comments on “Finnish coil-embellished apron (part 1: Making the coils)

  1. […] Coil-embellished apron (second) […]

  2. […] I continued to make additional coils, after having already made….. a lot…. for my embellished apron. These were hand-stitched onto the top and bottom edges, leaving a break in the centre front at the […]

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