When I was in high school, I got bit by the jewelry-making bug. I had
been experimenting with making jewelry from beads, paper, fibers,
buttons and anything else I could get my hands on. A friend of mine was
doing a lot of wire-wrapping with polished rocks and stones, and her
pieces looked so beautiful that I just had to give it a try. So I bought
some tools and some wire and a book about wire wrapping and sat down to
teach myself how to do wire-wrapping.
Sixteen mangled rocks later, I discovered that I wasn't so good at
wire-wrapping, and I gave up. When I started getting into beadwork a few
years later, I shied away from any project with wire because of my past
experiences with it. Then a beading friend showed me just how easy it
was to create wire-wrapped loops and make my own jump rings. Eureka! I
realized that yes, I could still do simple wire work and create lovely
and unique handmade components to accent all of my beaded creations!
Then I tried Viking knit with colored craft wire, and, well, I was
totally hooked. The infusion of color into my finished beadwork was just
what I needed to give my work a signature look, and I've now become a
If you're ready to jump into making your own wire jewelry findings,
here are a few tips from the Boy-I-Wish-I-Knew-This-Before-I-Started
1. Practice with craft wire. Before you go diving in with the
expensive precious metal wire, practice your techniques on inexpensive
copper or brass craft wire. You won't waste anything if you make a
mistake, and one of the nice things about craft wire is that it comes in
a wide range of colors. Make up a few wire jewelry findings with
colored craft wire to add an unexpected bit of color to your
2. Buy the best tools you can afford. I've heard this from
many other jewelry artists, and they are all right. When I first started
making beaded jewelry, I used cheap wire working tools. They were fine
at first, but as I started to do more and more beading and wire
jewelry-making projects with them, my hands started to hurt. When I
finally invested in a great set of European-made wire working tools, the
difference was like night and day. Ergonomic tools are even better if
you do lots of repetitive-motion activities like making wrapped loops
and opening jump rings.
||Knowing which wire tool to use for which task can be crucial. Always buy the highest-quality tools that you can afford!
3. Protect your eyes. You wouldn't necessarily think about
protecting your eyes when making wire jewelry, but flying bits of wire
coming from your wire cutters can pose a danger to your eyes. To
minimize the risk to your eyes, either wear a pair of lightweight
plastic safety glasses (available at any hardware store) or make sure
that you cover your wire with one hand while cutting with the other.
Don't learn the hard way on this one - your eyesight is too important!
4. Work right from the spool. When you do finally go in and
start working with precious metal wire, you can minimize waste by
working right from the spool or coil of wire. Instead of cutting larger
pieces of wire that might leave you with unusable leftovers, just start
working right on the end of your spool or coil of wire.
5. Use the right tool for the job. After you've invested in a
good set of wire working tools, you'll want to make sure that you know
what each tool is for and how to use it. As a general rule, don't use
your regular wire cutters for things like memory wire - the memory wire
is too stiff and will ruin your cutters. If you think you'll be doing a
lot of work with memory wire, invest in a special pair of memory wire
cutters. Your hands (and your regular wire cutters) will thank you!
If you want more great tips and information about working with wire, visit our new Wire Jewelry Making Topics Page here on Beading Daily. You'll find some handy information for getting the most out of your wire working tools and supplies, as well as comprehensive lists of all the great resources like books, magazines and videos available all about making wire jewelry! And if you're looking for a great starter reference book, you definitely need to check out Denise Peck's new book, Handcrafted Wire Findings. Denise shows you how to create your own wire jewelry clasps and wire earring findings with clear, easy-to-follow directions and photographs.
Have you ventured into the wonderful world of wire jewelry findings yet? What have you learned that you want to share with others who are just starting to work with wire? Share your tips and hints here on the blog!
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