Learn to Master Thin Wire

Apr 7, 2010
Jean Campbell Don't sweat the small stuff-
I
know many people who can’t imagine working in the scale we do as jewelry makers. You know, the type of person who’s more comfortable with tongs than tweezers. They couldn’t imagine twisting a tiny wire loop or picking up a seed bead.

We love these people. They are our coworkers, family members, and friends. And they are often amazed by the prowess of our digits. We smile and nod and take pride in that. But our little secret is that even those of us so attuned to the smallness of things eventually come across a nemesis, a material or technique that makes us feel like we’re all thumbs. Our usually nimble little fingers might as well be Johnsonville brats right off the grill.

Learn from the wire pros
For many of you out there, your secret nemesis may be wirework. What's the best thing to do for this problem? Look that monster in the face and subscribe to Step by Step Wire Jewelry, where you’ll get tips and tricks from the pros in every issue. With practice and patience, you’ll be nimble in no time. And if wirework is already your friend, chances are that working with very thin wire might be your nemesis.

Here are 5 tips for storing and using thin wire:

pop top box for thin wire

1: Keep thin wire tightly rolled so it doesn’t kink. I keep mine in small plastic pop-top boxes, but even a zip-top plastic baggie that’s close in size to your roll will help.

nylon-jaw pliers

2:
If you get a kink in your thin wire, just use a pair of nylon-jaw pliers to straighten it. Keep in mind that the wire, especially non-precious-metal wire thinner than 24-gauge, weakens greatly at the kink point, so do your best to keep it straight.
Cecelia Guastaferro’s Tiny Wrappings.

3:
Wire thinner than 24-gauge is obviously not as strong as thicker wires, so avoid using it for weight-bearing loops unless you’re doing some kind of tricked-out design like Cecelia Guastaferro’s Tiny Wrappings.
4: Because thin wire is so easy to bend, it may be tempting to work more quickly with it than you might with thick wire. Don’t. Work slowly and make purposeful bends, wraps, coils, and loops.
5: The upside to thin wire is that you can easily manipulate it with your fingers. For instance, there’s no need to grasp it with a chain-nose pliers to coil it or wrap it. In fact, it’s probably better to use your fingers or nylon-jaw pliers to handle thin wire so you don’t mar it. 

With Step by Step Wire Jewelry, you'll learn not to sweat the small stuff or any nemesis. Please share your triumphs with us on Beading Daily.

 


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