Take the Leap–5 Things You Need to Know About Working with Colored Wire!

Sara Richardson
is the associate editor
for
Step by Step
Wire Jewelry
and
Lapidary Journal
Jewelry Artist
.

More often than not, I choose to work with color-coated copper wire or "craft wire." Part of the reason why, I'll admit, is because it's way

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

easier on my budget. But the more important part is because I like the boldness and the brightness of the colors. I'm not really that into liver-of-sulfur. And I'm not a big fan of polishing tarnished pieces. Since this kind of wire is non-tarnish, I never have to worry about polishing…and the people I make jewelry for don't have to worry about it, either.

I find that craft wire gives me more dimension to my pieces. I can usually find a matching or complementing color to the beads I'm working with, and it gives the whole piece extra oomph!

5 Things to Know About Using Colored Wire
1. It's 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,

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

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 it 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.

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 cons and limitations. 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. 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!

Want More Inspiration to Use Colored Wire?

Kerry Bogert's Flying Trapeze Bracelet from Totally Twisted.

You can master the basics of working with colored wire pretty fast, but you can spend a lifetime exploring the use of color in design. For this, I look no further than Kerry Bogert's new book, Totally Twisted. She loves working with color as much as I do, whether it's her use of bright lampwork beads (either ones she made herself or from other talented artists) or the colored wire and anodized aluminum jump rings she employs in her fun designs.

One of my favorites that I'm just dying to try is the Flying Trapeze which gives you a new way to showcase a brilliant lampwork bead by using it as a unique pendant. Timeless is a project great for those flat lampwork disc beads that you have lying around. (I've always had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with them!) The Twirl-A-Gig Necklace also shows you an alternate way to use the disc beads by making fun links with colored coils and orbiting loose sterling coils.

Totally Twisted is now available in the Interweave Store. Discover how Kerry uses color, then take the leap yourself! Believe me–you won't be sorry you did!

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