10 Essential Wire Tips: Save Yourself Some Labor in Jewelry Making


My first wireworking and metal class was years ago. I was so enthralled with the reaction of wire and heat that I never got beyond making ballend head pins with a torch. I just couldn't stop! It was like magic, so simple that even a beginner could end up with professional results in minutes. That's the beauty of a great teacher.


Denise Peck's new Metalwork Wire Essentials DVD does precisely that! You end up with fabulous wireworking results by simply watching her. I’ve put together my top 10 lessons learned from Denise’s DVD.

  1. Use 20-gauge wire when making your own ear wires. A larger gauge wire may not comfortably fit through your earring holes. Ouch!
2.  Two hands are never enough in jewelry making or curling your hair. Using a third hand to clamp your wire piece securely leaves both hands free so you can easily maneuver a torch or other tools for creating your masterpiece.
  3. Learning to make coils out of wire can be used for decorative purposes or the base of jump rings. Use your wire cutters to snip down the middle of each ring on the coil to create individual jump rings.
4.  Making your own jump rings is quick and easy. The key is to trim the inner edges of the wire so they fit together snugly and there's no gap between them.

5.  Denise uses a bevy of wire working tools and explains how one each is used so novice to expert, you know how to use them. (Sure, you've seen them before, but what to do with that ice-pick looking thing is a mystery.) It's actually an awl used to create holes in your wire and metals so you can hang a dangle.

6.  Create a pile of wire hooks, clasps, and toggles at the same time to use in later projects. This ensures that they're consistent in size and style. Making one at a time when needed leaves room for mistakes and isn't timely.

7.  Making your own head pins from wire is less expensive and much more convenient than purchasing commercial head pins. You can make any length you want and never run out. Imagine that!
8.  Ballend head pins and "S" clasps add a more artistic look to your findings. Using a simple micro-torch to melt the ends of the wire, the metal automatically forms a ball. You quench the heated metal in cold water, trim the wire, and voila, a beautiful professional-looking headpin!
9.  Hammer the curves in your wires to strengthen (work-harden) the wire. Whether making wire loops, dangles, "S" hooks or swan clasps, this gives them additional strength in the area that's been compromised by bending.

10. When oxidizing silver with liver of sulfur, you must use very hot water. If the water is cool or cold, you won't get the chemical reaction of the liver of sulfur to the metals and you'll have pale-colored results.

Have fun with all the wire jewelry-making techniques from Metalwork Wire Essentials. Once you learn the basics, your wire world will explode wonderfully!

Come bead with me.


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