Back in the 1970’s, spoon rings were all the rage. They were very popular at flea markets and craft sales, where sellers would advertise them as “authentic Hippie spoon rings” for a few dollars each. For no extra charge, your new ring could even be fitted to your hand-easy to do, due to the nature of the ring’s design.
You don’t have to be a hippie to enjoy spoon rings. You don’t even have to have an appreciation of the 1970’s. Spoon ring patterns range from simple to elaborate, from delicate to sturdy, depending on the type of spoon used. The variety of spoons available provides a suitable selection for almost any taste. Best of all, these rings are relatively simple and inexpensive to make.
Most of the equipment you will need to get started making spoon rings is inexpensive and is readily available on the Internet. In addition, many specialty craft shops also carry, or will order, what you need. Here is what you will need to get started.
Spoons: It seems to go without saying that you’ll need spoons to make spoon rings. But not every spoon will do. You will need to make sure that your spoons are silver, not stainless steel. Steel spoons will be harder to work, although they can be used if need be. Sterling silver spoons are more malleable than steel spoons and aren’t significantly more expensive, particularly if you pick them up at swap meets, second hand stores, or tag sales. And if you find a good price on silver cutlery, but the lot contains a number of forks, don’t despair. You will be cutting off the tines, anyway, so no one will know that your “spoon” ring is an impostor!
Mallet: You will need a soft-faced mallet of some kind, to shape your ring. The most frequently recommended mallet is made of rawhide leather. Wood, polymer, plastic, and nylon mallets are also available. If you like a rawhide mallet, but prefer a slightly heavier mallet, you may want to consider one that is lead-filled. A soft-faced mallet will allow you to size and bend your spoon rings without stretching them. A variety of soft-faced mallets are available at jewelry- or leather-working specialty shops or outlets and are easy to find online.
Ring Mandrel: A ring mandrel is essentially a narrow, rounded cone, usually made of metal. Mandrels are usually marked with ring sizes. They may be grooved or ungrooved, as well. Ring mandrels can be used by themselves or paired with mandrel stands or anvils. Although it is possible to shape a ring without using a mandrel, using one makes it easier to shape the ring into a smooth circle. In addition, it allows the crafter to make rings with consistent sizes.
Grinder/Polisher: You can select from a number of tools to polish the cut end of a spoon ring. Shaping the cut end with the mallet and polishing with emery cloth or a half-round ring file works fine; however, if you prefer a more high-tech tool, then you might want to consider an electric or pneumatic grinder or polisher. Your local specialty shop or supplier can best advise you on what tool and attachments best suit your skill level and your crafting needs.
Hacksaw: At the very least, you will need a hacksaw to remove the bowls from your spoons. Using a hacksaw will not provide the smoothest edge, however. Your local craft supplier or hardware store would be able to advise you about the best too to use on sterling silver or silver-plated spoon.
Wooden Block/Anvil/Stand: You will most likely need something to support your ring mandrel while you work. If you choose not to make the investment in either an anvil or a mandrel stand, then you can get by with a block of wood for support. Select a block that is large enough to work comfortably on. A wooden block should be grooved with a router to accommodate the mandrel.
Preparing the Spoon for Shaping
First, be certain that you are selecting the best ring for your project. To begin with, the style should be appropriate for the need. That is, you should not use a very wide spoon handle for a ring intended for a very small finger, for example. You will also want to be certain that the spoon you have selected is made of the appropriate metal. Again: stainless steel spoons can be used, but they will be more difficult for you to work. The best spoons for ring making are made of sterling silver. Silver spoons will be marked with the word “sterling” or the number “925.” You will often find this inscription along the back of the handle, although it may also appear along the back of the spoon’s bowl.
Once you have selected your spoon, you need to remove the bowl. To give yourself the most handle to work with, make your cut at the point where the neck of the handle is at its narrowest, immediately above the bowl. You should be left with about six inches of metal, depending on the style of the spoon you selected. If you are using sterling silver spoons for your project, you can save the bowl to sell for scrap metal later.
After the bowl has been removed, you will want to smooth and shape the cut edges. If you are using silver, you can use your mallet for this purpose. If you prefer a “higher-tech” approach, use a piece of emery cloth, file, or grinder. However, it is important to remember to be very careful when using any smoothing technique that removes metal from your project. Removing any excess metal is a permanent mistake; you can not fill the area later. Nevertheless, this step is necessary to prevent injury, either when you’re working it, or later, when wearing the ring.
Shaping the Ring
Now you are ready to shape the ring. Beginning ring makers may find it easiest to start by securing the ring mandrel to the wooden block, stand, or anvil, to free both hands for working. Because spoon rings are not soldered into a final form when finished, selecting a size for your ring is not as important, so you can select a position on the mandrel that is comfortable for you to work from.
The next step is to wrap your spoon handle around the mandrel. If you are using a sterling silver spoon, you may be able to begin the process manually, since the metal is somewhat soft. You will not need a torch to soften the metal before bending it, as long as you are using sterling silver spoons. To shape your ring, tap the metal with your soft-faced mallet, taking care not to mar the surface. When you are finished, the ring should have a smooth, circular shape.
Finishing the Ring
After shaping the ring, take a moment to inspect it for any rough edges. You may wish to polish it with some silver polish or chamois cloth, to remove any dirt that may have accumulated while being worked. Now, compress it or expand it to fit the desired size.