The Dos and Don'ts of Twisting Wire

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a
contributing editor to Beading Daily

I remember working with wire for the first time. I was all thumbs. My coils were sloppy, my bends weren't sharp, and my loops were kinked. I truly thought I'd never get the hang of it. Feeling the wire in my fingers felt foreign after working so often with a needle and thread. It wasn't until I took a wireworking class, where I learned basic tips and tricks to make clean wirework, that I truly felt confident.

I was recently going through my old jewelry boxes and found some of those early wireworked pieces. Nothing to write home about, that's for sure. But what I did feel good about seeing is how the quality of my wirework has improved. It's from a lot of practice, yes, but also from spending the time to learn from teachers, books, and magazines like Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry.

When I was going through these old pieces, I was struck most by seeing the "bad" version of, say, a wrapped loop next to the "good" version. I realized what a lesson that can be in itself! So today I thought you might like to see a technique–twisting wire–showing the "right" way and the "wrong" way side by side. First we'll look at the right way so you can do it right the first time:


Twisting Wire–the RIGHT way

1) Use a round-nose pliers to form a loop in the center of the wire. Splay the wire ends out evenly on each side of the loop.

2) Grasp the loop in your dominant hand and the place where the wires cross in your non-dominant hand. Keep the crossed wires pinched tight as you turn the loop.

3) Is the twist clean? If so, keep twisting. (If not, untwist and try again.) With clean twists, you'll end up with even, clean wirework.

Twisting Wire–the WRONG way

1) You see how the photo below shows that when I made the loop I didn't swing the wires evenly out from one another? One is sticking down, the other is out to the side.

2) So now, because I didn't have the wires set up properly, when I twist the wires together, one will end up swirling down the other instead of twisting evenly.

3) Yuck!

Pretty amazing how just one little swing of the wire can mean the difference between neat and messy, isn't it? You'll find other great tips, techniques, and intriguing projects for all your wireworking interests in Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry. Now get out there and make some nice wire twists!

Happy beading-

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About jeancampbell

Jean Campbell is the founding editor (and currently the senior editor) of Beadwork magazine and has written and edited more than 45 beading books. She has written for Beading Daily and has appeared on the DIY Jewelry Making show, The Shay Pendray Show, and PBS' Beads, Baubles, and Jewels where she gives how-to instructions, provides inspiration, and lends crafting advice. Jean teaches jewelry-making workshops throughout the United States and calls Minneapolis home.

One thought on “The Dos and Don'ts of Twisting Wire

  1. Here’s a fun and easy way to twist wire; Bend your wire in half, with the bend point being a soft fold. Put the cut ends of the wire in a bench vise and secure. Use a rod of some sort, (I’m a beadmaker, so I use a stainless steel mandrel that I have handy), Put the rod into the bend, add some tension and twist! The more you twist, the tighter the result.

    This can be done with any gauge wire, for a straight even twist. Heavy wire twisted in this way, then hammered, shaped and annealed, add some patina and you have a wonderful cuff bracelet!