Woven in Wire: Tips for Better Bead and Wire Pairings

If you’re a beader looking to add wireworking to your skill set, you might be wondering if any of the beads in your stash will play nicely with wire. The answer is maybe. There are a few things that need to be considered before adding just any bead to your next wire project. For advice and tips on better bead and wire pairings, we’re turning to master wire weaver Sarah Thompson. In her book, Woven in Wire, Sarah features several beautiful projects that creatively combine beads and wire. Her beads of choice are crystals and pearls since they’re materials that are easy to find and come in standard sizes and uniform shapes. The Tidal Wave ring curves around a 5mm pearl and the Lorelei pendant frames a gorgeous, square Swarovski crystal.

Woven in Wire

Combining beads and wire in woven wire projects has a stunning end result.

If your bead stash is short on pearls and crystals or they’re simply not your favorites, fear not. Part of the fun of working with wire is that it can be easily altered and formed around almost any bead to suit your own personal tastes. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when combing beads and wire.


Woven in Wire

Look for a bead hole size and wire gauge that work well together.

1. Hole Size – The size of the hole in your bead needs to accommodate the gauge of wire you’re using. Forcing a bead onto a wire that is thicker than the hole can cause breakage, and a bead on a wire that’s too fine for the hole size can mean the bead moves and slips on the wire.

Woven in Wire

Can your bead withstand rolling around in a tumbler?

2. Durability – If you plan to polish your finished jewelry in a tumbler, be sure your beads are durable enough to withstand the agitation in the drum of a tumbler. Some AB finishes on crystals, for example, will come off during tumbling. You may also find that some softer natural stones will break in the tumbler.

Woven in Wire

Polishing patina can cause damage to some bead surfaces. Make sure your bead can be scrubbed with steel wool.

3. Finishing – Lastly, if adding patina to your piece, you’ll want to test how liver of sulfur will affect your beads before you spend hours working on a finished project. If it damages the bead, then plan to add the bead after you have finished oxidizing and polishing your jewelry, or be careful of the bead as you polish with steel wool.

Want to know more of Sarah’s secrets for better wirework jewelry? You can join her free email series “3 Steps to Mastering Wirework” any time to learn more about the tools she recommends, the basic techniques she uses, and her keys to perfecting symmetry in wirework. Here tips and tricks arrive conveniently in your inbox when you sign up!

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

Images © F+W Media, Inc. by David Baum

Learn to make beautiful wire jewelry with beaded accents in Woven in Wire!

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