Join the Cure: 8 Great Ways to Make Better Wire Jewelry and Find a Cure for Breast Cancer

Whenever our "Best of" issues come out, the tip-collector part of my brain gets all jumpy. I love learning a new perfect tip that fixes a problem I've encountered while working with wire or helps me make wire jewelry faster/easier/better–and I especially love sharing those great tips with you. Our new special issues, The Best of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry 2012 is hot off the presses and bursting with reader-favorite projects and dozens of little tips (epiphanies, even) to make better wire jewelry. Here are some of my favorites and the contributing authors and designers who shared them.


1. How to make flat head pins: Using the torch and 20- or 22-gauge wire, make 3" ball-end pins. Place the head pins ball-end up in a vise and hammer the heads flat. -Keirsten Giles 

2. To anneal hardened but thin sterling silver wire: Thin wire should be annealed (softened) in a kiln. Wrap the wire into a compact coil. If necessary secure the coil with pieces of the same type of wire. Place the coil in a 1200°F kiln for three to five minutes. Quench the hot coil in water and then pickle. -Connie Fox


3. Easy file: If you don't have a metal file on hand, an emery board can be used to smooth the ends of ear wires.-Nancy Wickman

4. Protect your wire: I strongly recommend that you dip your pliers in Tool Magic. It will keep you from marring your sterling rings or scratching the crystal squares, but unlike bulkier methods of coating your pliers, it will give you the room to weave the small rings in tight areas of the project. -Vanessa Walilko


5. When your silver- or gold-colored copper-core wire shows copper on the cut ends: Use Krylon gold and copper leafing pens to coat the ends with a small dot of paint. This covers the copper core for a perfect polished look. -Leah Helmrich (That's Leah's Blossoming Lotus necklace on the cover, below, and the first project I'm going to make from this special issue!)

6. To remove liver of sulfur that's too dark: You have added a patina of liver of sulfur to your wire followed by a scrub with #0000 steel wool, but it's still much too dark. What do you do? You can remove the LOS with a torch. Be careful though, if you have used fine wire, the torch could melt the wire. Dips that remove oxidation are often harsh on the metal. Chemicals designed for oxidation removal in an ultrasonic cleaner may be helpful. -Connie Fox


7. Keep chain maille in order: When beginning a chain maille project, use a twist tie on the first ring to keep your place. -Lorraine C. Menard

8. While doing chain maille, remember: Horizontal rings mean that the hole is facing you when looking straight at the piece. Vertical rings mean that the wire of the ring is facing you. -Vanessa Walilko


The 2012 Best of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry is packed with great tips and dozens of popular wire jewelry projects in wire wrapping, chain maille, and more, plus a social media how-to that will help you sell your jewelry online and more. As if you needed another great reason to get your copy of The Best of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry (pre-order a print copy or download instantly), here's the best reason of all: In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, 30% of all Jewelry Making Daily Shop proceeds go to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation (through 11:59 PM MST on 10/5/12). Shop for the cure!

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