Bookmark Material: 8 Must-Know Wire Jewelry-Making Tips Plus Wire Gauge Guide
I hear good tips all the time, don’t you? But I don’t always remember them, especially at the moments I need them most. So here are eight super handy, must-remember wire jewelry-making tips to help make your wire jewelry designs even more fabulous!
- Argentium sterling silver wire makes the best balled head pins: no firescale, no lumpy balls, no pointy ends. It draws up the wire beautifully in a flame, creating a smooth round ball that is extremely tarnish resistant.
- I love working with copper-core, silverplated wire–it’s so affordable and feels great in my hands. But when the copper shows through on the cut ends of silverplated copper-core wires, it really bugs me. Leah Helmrich recommends using Krylon silver leafing pens to coat the ends with a small dot of paint. This covers the copper core for a perfect polished look, and it works with any colored leafing pen to match the outside wire–brass, gold, rose gold, etc.
- Sometimes you need to remove liver of sulfur patina from wire jewelry that’s too dark, or sometimes you just want to remove the patina in some areas to help other areas stand out. Scrub the surface with #0000 steel wool, but if it’s still too dark, you can remove the LOS with a torch. Be careful though; if you have used fine wire, the torch could melt the wire, and we all know how heartbreaking that is. (Thanks to Connie Fox for this pointer!)
- Speaking of liver of sulfur, adding a drop of household ammonia to a liver of sulfur solution can create a really colorful patina on your metal and wire jewelry-making projects.
- Cindy Wimmer has a great tip for making better wire coils: When coiling wire on pliers, work the wire from the front toward the back of the pliers instead of the more usual vice versa, so the finished coil will push out toward the tip of the pliers. This way, you can make a wire coil of any length, even if the barrel of your pliers is short.
- Protect your metal and wire: Vanessa Walilko strongly recommends dipping your pliers in Tool Magic. It will keep you from marring your metal, wire, and even crystals, but unlike bulkier methods of coating wire jewelry-making tools, it won’t take up so much space in tight areas of a project.
- If you use multiple metals in a wire jewelry-making project and want to patina to the finished piece, consider adding patina to the wire before you make the project–or try Baldwin’s Patina, a solution that colors copper without affecting nickel silver, sterling silver, or gold alloys. It creates a gunmetal effect, so you won’t get the multidimensional effect you’d get from traditional liver of sulfur, but it’s useful if you’re combining metals that are problematic when mixed together in liver of sulfur or other patina solutions.
- How to make flat head pins: Use a torch to draw a ball on the end of short 20- or 22-gauge wires, making ball-end head pins. Place the head pins ball-end up in a vise and hammer the heads flat. Thanks for that tip, Keirsten Giles!
Can’t get enough wire jewelry-making tips, techniques, and project ideas? You’ve come to the right place! Get our Wire and Jig Collection, a very specially priced selection of two wire jewelry-making video downloads by experts Brenda Schweder and Tamara Honaman, a digital wire jewelry-making book packed with info and 20 wire jewelry-making projects, plus SIX bonus wire jewelry-making project tutorials! If you love wire jewelry making, you won’t want to miss out on this special collection created just for wire jewelry lovers like you.