Fixing Wire Jewelry Mistakes: How to Bounce Back from Tool Marks, Hard or Broken Wires, and Go with the Flow

In all of my creative pursuits, mistakes have never really bugged me too much, for some lucky reason. Now after a big stinky sip when they’ve accidentally served me coffee instead of chai latte at Starbucks, I don’t react nearly so well! But I seem to be able to go with the flow when it comes to mistakes in metal or wire jewelry making and just look at them as an opportunity to alter the design to what it obviously wanted to be anyway!

“Mistakes are just new designs waiting to happen.”

But not everyone is that way. Sometimes wire jewelry mistakes can be so frustrating that the project just comes to a halt, delegated to That Spot in your studio where unfinished projects go to die. If you’re a perfectionist when it comes to your wire jewelry designs, get some stress relief and learn to fix them or go with the flow, with advice from Fine Art Wire Weaving author Sarah Thompson.

wire jewelry from Sarah Thompson's Fine Art Wire Weaving


Fixing and Hiding Mistakes in Wire Jewelry

from Fine Art Wire Weaving by Sarah Thompson

Mistakes happen to all of us. It doesn’t automatically mean a destroyed design. Here are a few ways to fix, hide, or embrace those flaws:

File the Tool Marks

The best ways to avoid tool marks is to use tools as little as possible. But when tool marks do happen, fix them with needle files. For shallow marks, a light filing is all that is needed. This gives the wire a brushed look. If desired, use fine-grit jeweler’s sandpaper to remove the brushed look. For deeper grooves, file the wire to give it a flattened look. Whatever you do, repeat it on the other side to maintain symmetry.

Coil the Base Wire

If you struggle with the shaping, you might rework the wire over and over, mangling it. The best way to cover up these imperfections is to coil the 28-gauge wire over all exposed base wires. This not only hides the imperfections but also gives the design a nice texture.

Anneal the Base Wires

Wire will become brittle and hard as you shape it. The best thing to do is anneal your base wires before working with them. This will soften them and make them easier to reshape. It will also reduce tool marks.


Take a Break

I know it’s time to take a break when my wire keeps breaking. Step back, relax, and get rejuvenated. You’ll be happier and your jewelry will be better.

Go with the Flow

When a mistake happens in shaping wire jewelry, assembling the wires, or using the improper wire length, it’s time to go with the flow. Instead of fighting the wire into submission, modify the design and work around the mistake. Be creative. Maybe adding another layer of shaped wire will balance the mistake or sculpting and molding the woven form differently will make it work. It can be as simple as embellishing with more or different beads to bring it all together.

Mistakes are just new designs waiting to happen. Some of my favorite designs were complete failures that took a new direction. It’s an opportunity to step back, think outside of the box, and get very creative. I find I become more adventurous in my designs when mistakes happen. It’s already ruined, so why not go extreme and see what becomes of it? The worst that could happen is that I have to start anew; the best is that I end up with an amazing design. For me, that possibility is worth it. At the very least, it is an opportunity to learn and grow. —Sarah

wire jewelry from Sarah Thompson's Fine Art Wire Weaving

Perfect Your Wire Jewelry

That’s priceless advice and I couldn’t agree more. Some of my favorite metal and wire jewelry designs have grown out of pieces gone wrong–or pieces that just forced me to go in a new, better direction. Much like receiving a “bead soup” mix to work with or finding yourself lacking in a particular necessary supply in the middle of a project, mistakes really are an opportunity to get creative and think outside the box, which helps us all grow as artists in any medium.

If you’d like to benefit from more of Sarah’s great advice–and be inspired by 20 stunning wire jewelry designs–take advantage of our huge Season of Savings sale and treat yourself to Sarah’s five-star-rated book, Fine Art Wire Weaving!

Get more wire jewelry tips and advice from Sarah in these other two excerpts from Fine Art Wire Weaving:

Wire Jewelry Making: 8 Tips for Wire Weaving and More

Wire Weaving: Choosing Wire Gauge and Type


Learn woven wire jewelry techniques from Sarah Thompson!


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