Wire Jewelry-Making Quiz: Are you a wire wizard or a wire wimp?

Tammy Jones editor Jewelry Making Daily  
Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making Daily.

What's your wire jewelry-making IQ? Answer these 10 wirework questions and compare your responses with the answers at the end. Then count up your correct answers and see if you're a wire wimp or a wire wizard!

 

Unexpected Pearl Earrings
by Denise Peck, from
10 5-Minute Wire Jewelry Projects

 
Swirls and Whirls Bracelet
by Pepper Mentz, from
10 Wire Bracelet Projects
 
Kumihimo Crystals Bracelets
by Vanessa Blevins, from
10 Wire Bracelet Projects
 
Easy Loop Post Earrings
by Cindy Gimbrone, from
10 5-Minute Wire Jewelry Projects
 

1. You have an 8' to 10' piece of wire that needs to be straightened. How do you do it?
2. You have a short piece of wire that you want to straighten but not harden. How would you go about it?
3. You want to soften (anneal) your work-hardened sterling silver wire. What do you do?
4. You have 3' of 20-gauge dead-soft wire that you would like to use for ear wires. How do you make the wire half hard (a better choice for ear wires)?
5. A wire jewelry tutorial tells you to use #2 16-gauge wire. What does this mean?
6. You want to make a flat, sterling silver spiral. What type of wire do you use, dead soft or half hard?
7. You need a lot of jump rings for a chain project. What alternatives are available to you?
8. If you want to make crisp angles with your wire, what is a better choice, dead-soft or half-hard wire?
9. How would you keep very fine wire on a spool from tangling or unraveling when crocheting/knitting?
10. You have added a patina of liver-of-sulfur to your wire followed by a rub with #0000 steel wool, but it is still much too dark. What do you do?

Answers:

1. Secure one end in a bench vise and the other end in draw tongs, a vise grip, or in pliers. Gently pull on the taut wire until straight.

2. Use a nylon mallet on a flat wood surface. Using a steel anvil will tend to harden the wire.

3. 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° kiln for 3 to 5 minutes. For heavy-gauge wire, form a compact coil, place it in an annealing pan, and use a large, soft flame to evenly heat the coil. The ends will turn red (in a darkened room) when annealing is complete. In both cases, quench the hot coil in water and then pickle.

4. Run the wire through the jaws of nylon flat-nose pliers. The wire will evenly harden in no time at all.

5. Wire hardness is designated as #0 (dead soft), #2 (half hard), and #4 (hard).

6. Spiral curves will conform more easily if you use dead-soft wire.

7. a. Make your own using flush cutters. Advantage: rings can be made with just a couple of hand tools. Disadvantage: the slice is not perfectly clean and may be visible.
b. Jump-ring-making systems. Advantage: a lot of rings with a clean slice can be made in very little time. Disadvantage: the systems can be pricey.
c. Use a cut-off wheel (make sure you wear safety glasses). Advantage: not very expensive but a flex-shaft motor or a Dremel is required. Disadvantage: breaks easily and only one ring at a time can be made.
d. Use a jeweler's saw. Advantage: clean slice. Disadvantage: one ring at a time, plus watch out for your fingers!
e. Purchase the jump rings. Advantage: beautiful rings are readily available from reputable suppliers. Disadvantage: higher cost than making them yourself.

8. Half-hard wire will make a clean, crisp turn without the slight curve you get with dead-soft wire.

9. Place the spool in a Ziploc bag. Leave 1" unlocked where the wire can exit.

10. Prevent the problem from occurring in the future by using just a pea-sized (or smaller) piece of liver of sulfur in a couple of cups of warm to hot tap water. Dip the jewelry in and quickly remove, followed by a dip in clean water. Use gloves and don't inhale fumes. Repeat until you get the color you desire. The patina is affected by the heat of the water, the amount of liver of sulfur, and the type of metal. Sterling silver and copper patina easily; fine silver patinas much less, if at all. For a piece that is too dark, you can remove the liver of sulfur 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.

So, how did you do?

Wire Wizard: 8-10 correct
Wire Wit 5-7 correct
Wire Worker: 1-4 correct
Wire Wimp (but we still love you) = 0 correct answers

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Want a great way to learn more about wire jewelry-making and working with wire? How about instant access to some great wirework projects, including bracelets, five-minute wire jewelry projects, and chain maille (chain mail) designs? Whether you're a wire wizard or a wire wimp, you can work wire magic by instantly downloading and making the wire jewelry projects in our three new wire jewelry eBooks, 10 Wire Bracelet Projects, 10 5-Minute Wire Jewelry Projects, and 10 Chain Maille Designs.

 By Connie Fox. Republished from the June/July 2010 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry.

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