Are you getting your wires crossed? Not anymore!

technique

Wire plays a huge part in creating jewellery pieces. May it be for stringing, wrapping or creating individual pieces just from wire, there is a vast choice of different wires on the market today.  But which wire goes best with what idea? We thought we would try to shed some light on the maze that is beading wire. Our info will include some details on wire sizes, wire types, their suitability, tools and some jewellery making techniques.

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WHAT SIZE WIRE DO I USE?

Wire measurements can be in either mm or gauge (American denomination) whereby the smaller the number for mm the higher the number for gauge. Just to confuse us even more.

  • Wires up to 0.5mm (24 gauge) – They are great for wrapping and threading. Perfect for wrapping around gemstones, for threading on beads or for intricate wire work as the wire is easy to work with and can be manipulated. But of course the higher you go within this size range the stronger your design will be.
  • Wires between 0.5mm – 1.5mm (17 gauge) – Ideal for creating your own findings and larger wire shapes.
  • Wires between 1.5mm – 3mm (11 gauge) – Good for making your own rings, bracelets and bangles or for framing and structured wire designs.
  • Wires between 3mm – 4mm (8 gauge) – Good for bangles or cuffs and perfect for chunky statement jewellery. To note though is that this wire is rather strong and it can be quite tough to work with. So it will require some getting used-to and some elbow grease.

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DOES WIRE COME IN DIFFERENT SHAPES?

The answer is YES. Wire can have different shapes. Here we have listed the most common ones.

  • ROUND WIRE

Round wire is THE most commonly used wire shape and it is available in many sizes. It’s popular due to its versatility as you can pretty much use it for anything. A lot of jewellery making techniques are based on it and you can also use it perfectly for making own findings.

  • SQUARE WIRE

Square wire is almost equally as versatile as round wire and it is commonly used for making bangles and rings. However it is stronger that its round counterpart and therefore preferred when a thicker, sturdier frame is required.

  • BEADED WIRE

This wire is ideal for stacked rings and creating your own jewellery findings.  It will also add a nice touch to designs that require silver-smithing, for example to set a decorative accent around a bezel.

  • HALF ROUND WIRE (D-Shape)

This wire is a favourite for projects involving silver-smithing and for making your own rings and bangles.

 

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SELECTING YOUR WIRE

hardness

Now this is the part where it gets tricky as the chosen wire will have a monumental effect on your design. Here is a little list of different wire varieties.

  • Fine Silver

Perfect if working with a flame as this wire will not stain when heated. Fine silver is softer than sterling silver, so people often use it for wire wrapping designs.

  • Sterling Silver & real Gold

Precious metal wire adds value to your designs and it has a lasting quality. This will also be reflected in the price when you buy this wire. We would therefore recommend to practice with standard wire first before you start using this precious metal.

  • Eco Silver

Eco Silver is a round wire made from recycled Sterling Silver. It works and feels just the same as the above precious metal, but it is kind to our environment.

  • Silver Gold Plated

Plated wire consists of a copper core with a high level plated coating. Plated wire will give your designs the look of real Silver or Gold for the fraction of the price. This wire is easy to work with, however it is a little stronger than wire made of Sterling Silver as that wire has been softened.

  • Copper Wire

Copper wire has a lovely rich red tone and works perfectly with colourful designs. As it is probably the most cost effective of all wires we would recommend you start with it on your path to wire design perfection.

  • Brass Wire

Brass wire has a wonderful deep golden colour and works beautifully in many designs. Brass is a little stiffer than other wires and a little harder to work with. However, it does give designs a glorious finish.

  • SILVER SILK

SilverSilk is a uniquely knitted chain made of 99.9% pure enamelled copper wires that are almost as thin as a human hair. The chain is soft to the touch, light as a feather and incredibly durable.

  • Bead Stringing Wire

The bead stringing wire is composed of tiny wires that are twisted together and coated with nylon. The number of tiny wires, also known as strands, will determine the flexibility of the wire. The larger the number of strands, the more flexible the wire will be. Therefore, 49 strand beading wire is more flexible than 19, and 19 will be more flexible than a 7 strand beading wire. So before you choose be clear about what you want to use the beading wire for.  If you are unsure start with the 19 strand beading wire. Let’s see what Beadalon, the supplier of all our wires, recommends:

recommended

 

 

 

 

 

To see our vast selection of all things wire please see HERE.

TIP:
Plated, Copper and Brass Wires are metal-based and may tarnish over time. Do not expose the wire or finished design to creams, perfumes or any factors that could potentially start the tarnishing process. Most wires will be labelled as Tarnish-Resistant  which in other words means the wire will hold on for as long as it can before it will succumb to changing its colour. Try to go for the Non-Tarnish option. However, do not fret! You can get an acrylic lacquer which, when applied to your design, forms a clear barrier and protects the wire from tarnishing.

 

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR WIRE WORK

 tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(from left to right – flat nose pliers, side cutters, round nose pliers)

 

It’s always useful to have a good selection of tools that will help you to make the creation of your wire design easier. Here is a list of tools that any wire worker should have.

 

A must-have! Use these for rounding wire, making loops, creating jump rings and individual findings.

Use these for bending metal sheets and wire. Their clamps are conically shaped and some even have a tilted peak which helps to close jump rings in tight spots.

  • FLAT NOSE PLIERS:

Ideal for gripping wider surfaces, bending wire at an angle and holding small beads.

These are amazing as they will not damage, mark or scratch the wire surface. They are particularly useful for straightening out kinks in wire.

They are essential for cutting and trimming with minimal effort.

To view all of our pliers and wire cutters for jewellery making click HERE.

 

There are also some little helpers that you can use for manipulating your wire into certain designs.

THING-A-MA JIG: Allows you to form your own elaborate wire designs by placing pegs within slots and wrapping your wire around them for the desired effect.

ARTISTIC WIRE 3D BRACELET JIG: Similar to the Thing-A-Majig, you can create a bracelet with a creative wire design by placing pegs around the bracelet jig and wrapping your wire around them.

ARTISTIC WIRE STRAIGHTENER: As the name says, this little tool will help you even out even the most stubborn of wire kinks.

 

 

 

 

 

(on the left – components made with Thing-A-Majig, on the right – wire wrapped bangles)

 

TOOL TIP:
If you would like to use a thicker wire when working with beads but the holes are not big enough, a bead reamer is a great tool to easily enlarge bead holes. To view our bead reamers click HERE.

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Now that you know more about sizes, wires types and tools we will list the most frequently used wire techniques.

 

DIFFERENT WIRE WORKING TECHNIQUES 

wire works 

 

 

 

 

 

(On the left – wire bracelet, on the right – wire Alice Band)

 

WIRE WRAPPING

Wire wrapping refers to a technique that involves wrapping objects such as stones and components into part of a design. This can be done by wrapping the wire fully around the object in the sense of creating a cage and/or wrapping it around the object in a way as to create a bail. It is also a technique used to make connections and findings.

WIRE WEAVING

Wire weaving is when a thinner piece of wire is woven in between at least two thicker pieces of wire or components. Weaving gives designs new dimensions and it has a beautiful smooth texture. Make sure that the wire you weave with is fairly soft so you can manipulate it easily.

COILING

Coiling is kind of a mix between wrapping and weaving. Soft wire is wrapped around a strong wire frame. It can be used to add loops or it can be a feature within the design. Coiling in a design can have a stunning effect and it is often used together with wire weaving.

These are only a few of popular techniques, but the list goes still on as you can use wire also for Stringing, Looming, Chain Maille, Knotting, Kumihimo and Crochet.

Here is a summary of the different techniques and what wire is suitable for them:

techniques full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ourselves have tried to get creative with wire and put together for you a DIY creative idea for our sparkling Alice Band which will add extra sparkle to any occasion and designed a kit for a set of gorgeous ear hoops.

DIY Alice Band Annabelle – click HERE to purchase

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Aurora Earring Kit – click HERE to purchase

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You can also find some books that will introduce the art of wire wrapping and Chain Maille to you – please click HERE.

Now go and get all wired up! :)

For our full product catalog please visit www.i-beads.co.uk