Wireworking Tips: Before I Read Wire Art Jewelry Workshop, I Didn't Know. . .

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

One of the best perks about my job is all of the great jewelry-making books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs I get to review—especially the advance copies. I feel like someone has just told me a wonderful new secret every time I get one, and the best part is, it's a secret I can share! And I'm happy to share all of the great wire jewelry-making tips I learned just by flipping through some advance proofs of Sharilyn Miller's gorgeous new book, Wire Art Jewelry Workshop.

Before I read it, I didn't know. . .

. . .about wire clasp gauges: Never use wire in a finer gauge than 18 for making clasps because it won't be sturdy enough to hold a jewelry piece together securely.

. . .about jewelry tumbling: Twenty minutes is a good all-around time for tumbling jewelry, but it can vary, depending on what kind of beads or gems are used. Jewelry with relatively softer, less hardy gems such as pearls, turquoise, and coral shouldn't be tumbled more than twenty minutes, but all-metal jewelry (including wire-wrapped jewelry and other wire jewelry designs) can be tumbled longer—even for hours, if necessary.

 

. . .about cleaning dirty wire: Always clean wire thoroughly before using it to make wire jewelry because it's rarely clean right out of the package. Surface oxidation, regular dirt, and sometimes tape residue could all be on your wire. Sharilyn uses 0000 superfine steel wool (or jewelry polishing cloths) to clean wire for her wire jewelry designs. Simply pull off a wad of it, roll it into a tight ball, wrap it around the wire, and pull the wire through it, squeezing firmly as you do. Repeat if necessary. This process not only cleans but also straightens, polishes, and slightly work-hardens the wire. Remember to clean your wire before using it to make wire jewelry designs—it's much easier to clean straight wire than to try cleaning a finished piece of wire or wire-wrapped jewelry!

. . .about making custom head pins: You can use a torch (even a micro torch, also known as a kitchen torch or a crème brûlée torch) to form balls on sterling silver, fine silver, or copper wire ends and make head pins out of any wire gauge and in exactly the right length you want for your wire jewelry designs. Zero waste!

 

. . .about polishing wire with steel wool after using liver of sulfur: After you blacken wire jewelry with liver of sulfur, clean it with steel wool and then polish it with a jewelry cloth or tumble it with stainless-steel jewelry shot and burnishing compound. High areas will turn bright and shiny again, but any areas that your steel wool couldn't reach will remain dark. If you skip the steel wool cleaning and polishing and go straight to the tumbler, your jewelry will remain black all over, even after hours of tumbling. So, it's important to remember that you must polish first with steel wool.  

. . .about finishing jewelry well before adding patina: Remember that using liver of sulfur to darken metal will enhance its details—even ones you don't want enhanced, such as stray tool marks and any other mistakes that you don't polish away first. Therefore, it's important to finish your piece as much as possible—including filing, sanding, buffing, and polishing it well–before applying liver of sulfur.

 

Isn't that a beautiful wire-wrapped necklace on the cover? Sharilyn admits that showstopper is one of her favorites but also quite expensive to make, because of all the sterling silver wire used in the wire-wrapped jewelry components and bead dangles, jump rings and other findings, plus fine-silver beads, Peruvian opals, pearls, and turquoise pendant. It's a wire-jewelry masterpiece for sure, and it prompted Sharilyn to share what I think is the best advice in the entire book: "Every jewelry artist should have at least one very special piece to wear and treasure always." So true!

Yes, I learned all of that, just by thumbing through Wire Art Jewelry Workshop! Imagine what more you could learn if you actually owned it and made the wire jewelry projects? Plus, there's a bonus DVD! Preorder yours now! What will your masterpiece showstopper be?

 

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