5 Tips (and A Great Deal!) for Making Colorful Wire and Beaded Jewelry

Wrapping colored wire can enhance the color of dramatic pieces like Sara's Ocean Garden necklace. Photo: Michael Richardson.

Colorful wire jewelry is a great antidote for dreary, rainy days, and as the price of precious metals continue to rise past one record after another, colored craft wire and colorful coated copper wire are becoming more and more popular in jewelry making. So if budget-easy, wardrobe-enhancing, nontarnish colorful (or even precious-metal colored) wire jewelry sounds like your cup of tea, you'll enjoy Jewelry Making Daily contributor and colored-wire jewelry maker Sara Richardson's tips for working with versatile color-coated copper wire (also known as craft wire). Sara likes colorful craft wire jewelry making for all of the above reasons as well as how easy it is to find a matching or complimentary color for the beads she's using in her designs, giving her pieces extra dimension and design appeal. Here are her five top tips for making colored wire jewelry.

Sara's 5 Things to Know About Make Colored Wire Jewelry

1. Colored wire is less expensive than other metals. You can pick up quality colored wire for about $5-6 for a spool. Depending on the gauge, you can get anywhere from 40 feet to 100 feet of wire. At every Bead Fest, I stop by the Parawire® booth to pick up several spools of wire in several gauges and colors. Then I would take it home and play with it . . . pairing it with matching or complementing beads. The results were amazing to me, and if I ever messed up what I was doing, I wasn't afraid of wasting the wire due to how much it costs. The other well-known brand of colored wire is Artistic Wire®.

2. You can get colored wire in metallic colors. Colored wire is available silver, gold, rose gold, copper, and gunmetal. Because of this, I haven't had a strong compulsion to completely leave it behind and move to the more expensive metals.

You can also coil and hammer colored wire with ease and without fear or tarnishing or the color chipping off. Photo: Michael Richardson

3. You can use colored wire just like other metal wire. Another great thing about this colored wire is that you can bend it, coil it, spiral it, and wrap it to your heart's content and not have to worry about the color chipping off. You can even hammer it and still get great results!

4. There are some limitations to using colored wire. It's usually only available in 16- to 30-gauges, and some people may be allergic to the copper (or other) base metal underneath the coating. Keep in mind that craft wire isn't good for soldering or fusing projects–save those for the quality metals.

5. Be careful with your pliers when working with colored wire. If you have a set of worn pliers or cutters, you'll need to take a little extra care when working with colored wire. If you're too rough with them, they may mar the color coating, possibly exposing the copper underneath. There's an easy solution, though. Just dip your pliers in a coating like Tool Magic®. It really helps to prevent boo-boos!


I'm glad I found Sara's colored wire jewelry-making tips in the Jewelry Making Daily archives because I recently discovered Linda Jones's book, Making Colorful Wire & Beaded Jewelry, and I'm drawn to its broad appeal and range of information. Her wire jewelry projects range from playful, colorful pieces to more sophisticated and fashionable wirework styles. I especially love the wire squiggle rings and think they'd be an ideal quick, fun, inexpensive, and eye-catching project for jewelry makers who like to sell their jewelry at events and craft fairs.

The project skill levels in Making Colorful Wire & Beaded Jewelry are broad as well. The instructions are clear and thorough enough for a true beginner to wire jewelry making, and the projects are artistic enough to satisfy more experienced wireworkers. Best of both worlds! Linda provides variations on many of the projects, too–a feature I love in any craft book, because I usually want to put my own spin on designs and enjoy seeing how they look modified. Get Making Colorful Wire & Beaded Jewelry in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop!

Do you make jewelry with colored (craft) wire? Why do you like it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Post a Comment