Time Tested: 6 Wire Jewelry-Making Tips from the Beginning of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry

Fanciful Figure 8 Earrings by Alice Korach

I’ve never been a big fan of gadgets, the Next Big Thing, or newfangled anything. I’m very old-fashioned and have always been drawn to old, well-worn, and classic things, even when I was much younger. As such, I love finding good quality things that stand the test of time and are always good.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I first started working for Interweave, and someone (I really should remember who, and thank them again!) sent me information on how to view electronic copies of all of our magazine back issues. That’s right friends, I was shown a place where nearly every issue of nearly every one of our magazines (jewelry making and otherwise) exists, in convenient electronic form. (If I ever disappear, just look for me there!)

Marie Scarpa’s Woven Fan Pendant

It’s fun to see jewelry-making projects and articles that were published five, seven, even ten or more years ago, to see the way trends and designs have changed and, more importantly to me, how they haven’t. Great tips are still great tips, no matter how long ago they were published–in fact, I might argue that it’s the time-tested tips and techniques that are the best. They live on for a reason: they really work!

I delved into the premiere issues of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry to see what great wirework tips and wire jewelry designs were featured in those very first issues, back in 2005. Here are a few of my favorite wire jewelry-making tips (along with some of my favorite wire jewelry designs) from that collection.

1. Don’t fight with a bad pair of pliers or cutters. If you’ve worn out the joints or blades on yours (or marred them with evil wire like I did), get a new pair or get them reconditioned. The repair or replacement costs will be worth it in the long run, financially and emotionally!

Linda Larsen’s accordion wire organizer

2. Here’s a tip for storing and organizing your various gauges and tempers of silver wire, from Linda Larsen: “I organize silver wire according to the shape, and keep it in a plastic accordion folder that holds hundreds of feet of wire.”

3. Do you ever wish you could make a tool that would solve one of your jewelry-making problems? Miland Suess, aka The Answer Man, does just that. He has invented and customized jewelry-making tools to improve them as well as to create tools that will solve problems jewelry makers have had for years. Available through his company, JewelryToolsByMiland.com, his double flush cutters save time and money by cutting wire flush on both ends–they even come with a gauge for precise lengths. His synclastic pliers and anticlastic pliers put curves in flat stock for making rings or cuff bracelets quickly and easily. Brilliant!


Marie Carter’s Isis Necklace

4. To make earrings that match perfectly, make them at the same time, one step at a time (instead of one whole earring and then the other whole earring). If the earrings have multiple loops or curved pieces, make all those components before assembling so you can make sure they are identical. (And if they still aren’t identical, see tip number 6 below!)

5. If you have certain sizes of loops that you seem to create in your wire designs most often, score your pliers with a diamond file at your favorite intervals and you’ll always make consistently sized loops. (You might want to dedicate a second pair of pliers just for this and keep an unmarked pair for every day wirework.)

Life’s A Charm (bracelet) by Connie Fox

6. And finally, my favorite tip. It’s from Connie Fox, on the subject of the little “wire warts” or imperfections that we sometimes inadvertently create in our wirework jewelry: “Our work is gloriously handmade in a world that is all too often technical and machine-made to perfection. Let at least some of these little marks have their place in our work. It’s proof that our two hands created the work.” If you just can’t get your loops to be even or your earrings to match perfectly, consider it free evidence of handmade designs!

The 2005 Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine collection CD has more than 200 pages of wire jewelry designs, projects, techniques, and information from the designers you’ve grown to know and love through the years, including familiar names such as Connie Fox, Ronna Sarvas Weltman, Dale “Cougar” Armstrong, and of course Editor-in-Chief Denise Peck. Whether you missed out on those premiere issues and need them to complete your collection (they’re out-of-print now!) or if you’re converting your paper magazine collections to space-saving electronic formats, this is a great opportunity to get all three premiere issues of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry on one convenient collection CD!

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