Top 10 Wirework Tips for the Wire Jewelry Artist
|Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making Daily.
Who doesn't love to learn a good tip or trick? You can save hours of time, lots of money, and so much frustration by implementing a clever, useful tip. These wirework tips from our wire jewelry-making editors and contributors will do all of that and more.
1. A pair of bent-nose pliers is the best tool to use when opening and closing a lot of jump rings. Hold them so the tips point straight up to the ceiling, gripping the ring on either side of the opening. This way you have good surface area of the jaws holding the ring but the tips do not obscure your work.
2. Instead of precutting pieces of wire, work directly from your spool to avoid wasting wire.
3. When snipping wire, hold your nondominant hand over the blades to keep small pieces from flying toward your face.
4. When making coils, work close to the end of the mandrel, sliding the coil back as you near the end. Make sure each successive coil is right next to the one before it, leaving no gaps. Applying tension as you wrap will help with consistency.
5. Wire becomes stiffer the more you manipulate it. That's called work-hardening, and can often be used to your advantage. If you decide to make your own ear wires, half hard wire is best. But if you only have dead-soft wire on hand, you can work-harden it by hammering it a few times with a hard plastic or rawhide mallet.
6. You can work-harden your wire pieces by placing them in a rotary tumbler with stainless steel shot and a drop of dish soap for about an hour. This will also help give your wire a nice finish.
7. For spirals, you will get a better grip on the wire if you hold the spiral back a bit from the tip of the pliers. If you are marring your wire when you are spiraling, you are either squeezing too hard or you need to softly file the edges of your pliers.
8. A ball-peen hammer has a balled side and a flat side. The balled side can be used to texture your wire with small divots. The flat side can be used to flatten and spread your wire. When choosing a ball-peen hammer, make sure the flat side has no sharp corners/edges on it. It should be gently rounded around the edges to avoid marring your metal.
9. To work-harden jump rings, hold each ring with both sets of pliers. Bring one pair of pliers toward you, and push the other pair away from you. Repeat back and forth until you feel the jump ring stiffen.
10. Silver tarnishes from humidity in the air. To help keep your silver from tarnishing, keep your wire in plastic bags and add a small silica/desiccant package that often comes with new shoes and handbags.
Good stuff, right? Want dozens more? Order the new Easy Wire CD Collection. You'll get over 205 projects in 350 pages of stylish and truly easy wire jewelry, as well as wire jewelry-making tips like these, loads of inspiring wire designs, and wirework basics tutorials. It's four full issues of Easy Wire, all on one convenient CD!
What's your favorite wirework tip or wire jewelry-making must-know trick? Please share in the comments below; I'd love to hear!