This is a version of one of those cool flip-folding wire balls that change into a flower or planet, or tube-like shape. The first time I saw one of these was when my sister's elementary class visited NYC and one of the chaperones had bought her one, possibly from a street vendor. I have since seen them in toy stores and craft fairs.
The idea came to me in a chance sort of way. As often happens, I googled "wire ball folding bead toy" in a fleeting moment of curiosity. I finally learned it was once marketed by Natural Wonders stores as a "Heaven's Orb" and I also found a few pictures of the normal-sized one. I also learned that Natural Wonders sold a smaller "Heaven's Pendant" and that was what got me thinking, "Hmmm.... Little Tiny Challenge... Cousin's Birthday coming up.... Where are those pliers....?"
So I am so excited to show you this!
Modeled by my preschooler:
I used #10 paperclips (the small ones). The main ring structures are made from whole clips and the 'petals' are half paperclips. I used some brass wire to attach the two halves.
I didn't figure out that I should have pre-bent the wires until I did the second half of it... and I'm not a jewelry maker so it's a little sloppy. But I am really happy with it, and that is what matters!
Before it was done it looked like a ball of barbed wire but I tucked in the wire ends and it is now relatively safe even for my toddler and preschooler to fight over... um... I mean share and play with.
As for a tutorial: I figured someone must have already deposited something somewhere in the vast font of all knowledge (aka the web), so I googled in a more obsessive manner and finally discovered a whole bunch of video tutorials online. They are generally instructions for larger ones, some quite beautiful. The proper term seems to be "Wire Mandala." Here's a rather nice video example: http://www.equinenow.com/video-num-4254527.htm
Thanks for looking! Can't wait to see what you all did!