A Budget-Minded Wire Choice
Penny-pinchers fear not--there’s an affordable solution to high prices that’s often overlooked or simply used as scrap metal by wire artists: craft wire. Craft wire usually has a copper core (varieties are also available with tin, bronze, or nickel), so it’s totally affordable. But the best part is that it comes in a variety of colors. Of course there is silver and gold-coated wire, but there's also a broad range in the color spectrum.
Where to Find It
Two major dealers of this colorful craft wire are Artistic Wire and Parawire. At every Bead Fest, I make sure I stock up on Parawire. I grab at least one silver spool in 20- or 24-gauge, and several colors—peacock blue, black, seafoam, amethyst, magenta, fuchsia . . . as you can probably tell, I like a lot of color in my work! And the best part about it is that it’s relatively inexpensive compared to silver and gold-filled wire.
If you’re just getting started with craft wire, or any wire in general, you must check out our latest issue of Easy Wire, chock-full of simple projects. Several projects require just a few materials, and a bunch specifically feature craft wire--so you can make and sell quality jewelry that’s easy on your budget! What’s more, you can substitute craft wire with sterling or gold-filled wire in almost any project in our Step by Step Wire Jewelry or Easy Wire magazines.
Why I Love Craft Wire
I find that the colored craft wire brings so much life to my pieces. In fact, I actually prefer colored wire to silver now. When I was making Christmas gifts last year, I had some plain silver-plated jump rings lying around. I wanted to make a charm bracelet, but it was looking kind of dull. I picked up a thin mandrel and wound a coil of magenta wire around it. Then I had one of those Oprah-patented “lightbulb moments.” I cut the coil into small pieces, and slipped one of them onto a jump ring. Instantly, I saw how the color brought life that the piece so desperately needed. And the color never tarnishes, so the wire will stay looking vibrant forever.
So, I continued on and finished the base with a coil on every other jump ring, then added the charms. When I began putting my pieces online to sell, that bracelet was the very first thing that sold!
When Not to Use Craft Wire
There are a lot of pros to using craft wire, however, there are a few cons. It’s usually only available in 16- to 30-gauges and some people may be allergic to the copper (or other) base metal underneath the coating. Also, if you have a set of worn pliers or cutters, be careful, as they may mar the color coating, exposing the copper underneath. (Dipping your pliers in Tool Magic would be helpful in this case!) Keep in mind that craft wire isn’t good for soldering or fusing projects--save those for the quality metals.
Enjoy exploring the rainbow of craft wire in your pieces. Don’t be afraid to take that creative leap! Maybe you’ll have a “lightbulb moment” too!
Coily Colored Jump Ring Chain
Add some pop to a charm bracelet by slipping colored coils onto your jump rings. A simple way to add color to plain silver chain! This 5-minute jewelry project is from the assistant editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry. Download Coily Colored Jump Ring Chain. Note: The free period for this project has ended; instructions are now available for purchase in the store.
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Sara Graham has been an assistant editor for Step by Step Wire Jewelry since its debut in 2005. She creates for her Lovestruck Jewelry line in her spare time, when she’s not indulging in music, creative writing, or planning for her upcoming wedding.