Making Wire Jewelry: What Tools Do I Need?
Many of us enjoy wearing jewelry. But the thought of making our own might make us cringe. Stringing a basic beaded bracelet or necklace is easy enough, but what if we prefer metal jewelry like that we find in stores?
Wire jewelry can take on many forms. Some pieces are very intricate and take a great deal of skill to make. But no one is born knowing how to make wire jewelry. There are projects that are appropriate for beginners, and once you have the basic techniques down, you can move on to more elaborate designs.
To get started making wire jewelry, you will need some tools. Here are the basics.
Obviously, you can’t make wire jewelry without wire. There are many different kinds from which to choose, but simple, inexpensive wire is the best choice for your first few pieces. If you mess up, you won’t have lost a great deal of money. Galvanized wire is plain and inexpensive, but it’s not particularly pretty. However, if you’re looking for something to practise with, it’s great. Copper is also fairly inexpensive, and it looks nice with earth-toned beads and jewels. If you want a gold or silver look without breaking the bank, try gold-filled, sterling silver or gold- or silver-plated wire.
There are many different types of pliers used in making wire jewelry. But to start with, you should need no more than three of them. Flat-nose pliers are used for a variety of purposes, and should be in every jewelry maker’s tool kit. Round-nose pliers are used to make loops and chains, and to open and close jump rings. And nylon-nose pliers have nylon jaws that make them suitable for working with soft and delicate materials.
When working with coiled wire, and often when working with wire strips, you’ll need to use wire cutters. Flush cut wire cutters make the straightest cuts and require the least finishing, but they also tend to be rather expensive. Bevel cutters cut at an angle and require filing of the cut ends, but they are usually fairly cheap.
When making wire jewelry, filing the ends is very important. Jagged edges and burrs could cause injury to the wearer. There are special files made just for use in jewelry making.
One type of file that is especially useful is the cup burr. It has a small cup at one end that contains teeth. You simply place the cup over the end of the wire, rotate it back and forth, and the wire comes out nice and smooth.
There are a few other things you may find useful when making wire jewelry. One is a tape measure, which is used to measure lengths of wire. Jeweler’s glue may be needed to fix certain pieces in place. Clamps and hand drills may be necessary for certain projects. Special hammers can also be useful when working with hard wire, but they’re not usually necessary for beginners.
Making wire jewelry demands dedication and attention to detail. But just about anyone with the desire can learn how to do it. Starting with the right tools will make your first few projects easier and more pleasurable.
Five Beginner’s Wire Jewelry Projects
Wire jewelry comes in many shapes and sizes, and in lots of intricate designs. But not every project requires absolute precision and knowledge of complicated techniques. There are plenty of projects that someone who has never made a piece of jewelry can do. Here are five ideas that are great for getting your feet wet.
1. Rings – Rings are among the smallest pieces of jewelry, but they also make up some of the simplest projects. Adjustable rings are especially easy to make, because they do not require soldering. In fact, there are plenty of designs that require nothing more than a piece of wire, a pair of pliers and a file to make. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even design your own simple ring.
2. Dangle earrings – Some wire earring projects are very complex. But many are easy enough for the newest of newbies. Ear hooks are great for making dangle earrings, and they are easy to work with. You can string beads onto wire to make a straight vertical design, bend wires for a geometric dangle, or combine wire and beads for a simple yet elegant earring design.
3. Hoop earrings – If you love hoops, you’ll be happy to know that you can use wire to make some lovely charm hoop earrings. You can buy earring hoops at jewelry supply or craft stores. Purchase some pretty beads and head pins, and you have the makings of a fun and beautiful earring project that you can complete in no time.
4. Bead and wire chains – Making bead and wire chains is a bit more complex than the ring and earring projects, but it’s a great way for beginners to learn some frequently used techniques. You don’t need a lot of tools to do it, either. Wire cutters, round-nosed pliers and chain-nosed pliers are sufficient, although some may find that they prefer to use bent-nosed pliers.
5. Bangle bracelets – Wire bangles are not nearly as difficult to make as you might think. You can make a simple one with just some wire, clamps, wire cutters and round- and flat-nosed pliers. Most experienced bangle makers shape them with a mandrel, but if you’re not ready to invest in one of those, a tin can will work.
For those who have never tried, the idea of making wire jewelry may seem impossible. But with the right tools, anyone can make a simple ring, toe ring or pair of earrings. Once you’ve completed a simple project, you can try something a little more complicated. Before you know it, you’ll be creating beautiful bracelets, necklaces and earrings that rival those found in a jewelry store!
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