7 Tips to Help You Weave, Wrap & Coil Your Way to Pretty Wire Jewelry
As you might have discovered while reading previous Jewelry Making Daily posts, I’d never been a fan of wire wrapping and wire jewelry making—until I saw this book. I love the flourishes, spirals, and curlicues! Wire-wrapping always seemed to produce wire jewelry that was more contemporary and modern than I like (I’m such an old-fashioned girl), but the designs in Weave, Wrap, Coil are contemporary while also being classic and pretty.
Weave Wrap Coil not only opened my eyes to a softer, more feminine side of wire jewelry making—it was conveniently there to teach me how to do it. Here are seven tips and ideas I found enlightening as I ventured into wire wrapping and wire jewelry-making with Weave Wrap Coil:
- Have you ever wondered why wire gauges are numbered backwards, so that larger wires have smaller numbers, and vice versa? Jodi shares why, and I was so happy to learn! Now I never forget. She explains that a wire'’s gauge “relates to the number of times the wire is pulled through holes in steel plates. Each time the wire gets pulled, it goes through a smaller hole to reach the desired gauge. Theoretically, that means 28-gauge wire is pulled through steel plates 28 times to get that small.” Aha! Did you know that?
- You probably know that wire comes in different tensile strengths: dead-soft or soft (very malleable and easy to work with), half-hard (a little stiffer), and hard (very rigid and firm) wire. Something you might not have discovered is that even when you’re using dead-soft wire, a larger wire gauge will be somewhat stiffer, just because of its thickness.
- Some wires are naturally stiffer or harder than others, just because of the nature of the metal they are made of; for example, dead-soft sterling silver wire is a little stiffer than copper wire or craft wire, and dead-soft brass wire is even stiffer than all of them.
- Dead-soft fine silver wire is very, very soft and must be worked carefully to avoid breaking. It isn’t recommended for most jewelry, except perhaps in a pendant or earrings that won’t get much wear.
- Brass wire can be more difficult to work with than silver, copper, or craft wires because brass wire is generally stiffer than other wires. Jodi points out that brass wire’s stiffness makes it “more springy,” and springy wire “tends to curl more and curls lead to kinks.”; The only thing more heartbreaking than kinks when making wire jewelry is a full-on break (see fine silver wire in #4 above).
- Top tip for beginner wire-wrappers and wire jewelry makers: Use craft wire for making “mock ups” and first attempts of wire jewelry designs. It’s less expensive than sterling and even copper wire, so if you make a mistake, it will cost pennies instead of bucks.
- This one is so logical, but if I hadn’t read it, I would have struggled with the issue: When you’re weaving on an angled frame, start at the narrowest end or point of the frame and weave toward the widest point. If you weave from the widest to the narrowest point, the wire will slip down the angle. As my friend would say, well duh! But it wouldn’t have occurred to me until I was pretty flustered from struggling with keeping the wire from slipping down the frame.
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