Friday, November 28, 2008

Quick wire tutorial

I love to use gun metal colored wire. I have found one place that carries it all the time. It is called Artistic Wire. I buy it in 18 ga and 20 ga. Most of the time, I use 20 gauge. I do not go higher than that because it gets too thin for what I want to do. The lower the number, the thicker the diameter of the wire.

If you look at the bottom pict, the left black wire is rebar/tie bar wire. It is about 14/16 gauge. It is harder to work with. I bought it at the hardware store. I think I got it at home depot. It came as a large coil. The middle copper wire is 18 gauge. The thinner silver wire is 20 gauge. I included the packaging for the 20 gauge wire. I buy 20 gauge and 16 gauge from Joann's with a coupon. The blue label you see above if from Joann's. I buy usually copper and silver colored.

If you look at the top pict, you will see an eye pin. You can find it in different lengths where they sell jewelry supplies. I get mine from places like Joann's or shows that I go to. I use those to piece together small beads, charm, I can add them to bracelets, necklaces, and stuff like that. Leave about 1-1.5" at the end so you can create another eye. I am kinda lazy. I just take my round nosed pliers, hold down the end and keep looping it around one of the jaws until I hit the bead or charm. That way, I have two eyes and I can put a jump ring or loop around that eye.

Okay. On to the middle picture of squiggles and loose wire wrapping. This is where you get the quick tutorial.

To make the squiggles, you need 14 or 16 gauge wire. Do not go thinner. You can go thicker but it will be hard to manipulate. I prefer 16 gauge. 20 gauge wire may crack off when you are hammering it flat. Cut off 4-6 inches of wire. You will get the feel of how long you want it to be based upon how long and how wide you will want your squiggles. Take your round nosed pliers and bend over one end to create a closed eye. You want the end closed so that a jump ring or wire loop will not go through any opening. Use your round nosed pliers and grip a spot on the wire. Use your other hand and bend the wire over to make a loop. Make loops of different sizes and lengths until you are near the end. Use the pliers and make an eye at the other end. Basically, all you are doing is using the round nosed pliers and looping the wire back and forth. Experiment with different squiggles. It is a great thing to do while watching TV.

It's hammering time. Be careful during this part so you don't accidentally bang your middle finger by the nail. Yes, I did it a few times and my middle finger raised itself up at me and swore at me. You know what I mean. It used some very colorful language after I did it to myself a couple of times. Start on one end and give it some hard bangs on the bench block. You can also do it on some hard solid surface. Just be careful to not crack something. I turned it around and started banging on it from the other end. You will know when to stop. The wire is not as shiny and it is a bit more flat with some texture/indentation marks from the hammer. If your eye opened up a bit, then use a pair of pliers and carefully close the end. Repeat until your finger swears at you, you get tired, or you are done with the batch. The flattening of the wire with the hammer and bench block is called work-hardening.

Loose wire wrapping. This is a tremendously simple thing to do that adds a great look to your jewelry. You can do a variation of this with beads, charms and other embellishments. I do this with the end of a paintbrush or just round nosed pliers. The idea is to do it loosely and not perfectly to give it a funky, fine look. You can use one of those wire winders to get a perfect spring looking wrap. That is not the look that I am going for here. If you are using a paintbrush, then leave a little bit at the one end so you can do an eye loop when you are done. Wrap the wire around the paintbrush. Do not do it perfectly. Leave a little gap. Overlap a couple of rows. When you are done, leave a bit at the other end for an eye loop. Use round nosed pliers and create eye loops at each end. You are done! I would start off with several inches of wire. Adjust the size of the loops and the length according to what you want to do. You can do this with 20-16 gauge wire. If you are just using round nosed pliers, start with the eye loop and wrap the wire around one rounded jaw a few turns. Take it off and put the jaws through the other end. Keep wrapping the wire around the end of the jaws. The end that you have already done should be falling off the ends of the plier jaws you are using. Don't forget to not be perfect and let some rows overlap with each other. Finish the end with an eye loop. You can see a small silver and copper loopies in the middle pict.
Email me if you have any questions.

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