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LEARNING TO WIRE-WRAP USING TUMBLED ROCKS
Try starting out by watching the many of the DIY tutorials available on youtube. There you can learn some of the basics and which techniques seem “right” for you. As with everything, it often looks easier than it turns out to be. Or, maybe you are a natural!
Hi, I’m Sands of Jewelry by Sands. My introduction to wire-wrap was a consequence of having to move my fingers which were becoming stiff as a side effect of chemotherapy and, well at age 68, lack of exercise!
Wire-wrapping is wonderful exercise for the hands and its phalanges . I am convinced it also helped with my chemo-brain induced memory issues. After several years of this “workout” my fingers are now flexible and my memory of remembered twists and turns has improved as well.
I already had a collection of rocks and have always enjoyed finding and admiring them, so I found a good combination of available materials and need. Tumbler If you have decided on tumbled rocks as a medium, I would recommend you purchase a good quality Lortone Tumbler for knocking off the edges and adding the shine and luster we so admire in remarkable pendants, bracelets, rings and earrings.
I’ve had several different rock tumblers and for reliability, I’ve found the Lortone the best bang for your buck. This would be a great starting unit for you to consider: This is the tumbler I recommend. Click Here: ==> Lortone Tumbler from Amazon
The surprising discovery for me was how long it takes for rocks to become tumbled! You think, stick it in the canister, add some tumbling sand, and a couple hours later….a masterpiece...
...Not so fast.
In fact, it will take several changes from coarse to fine grit, polishing grit and 3 weeks or even more to get the desired stone you want for your special project.
Please don’t skimp on time allotted for this process should you decide to work with rocks and spend a few extra dollars to invest in a strong machine. You’ll get a huge feeling of accomplishment if you tumble your own rocks….especially if you found them!
That said, tumbled rocks are always available for sale. Wire for Wrapping Not many of us beginners have the money to begin our practice wraps with gold, gold-filled, sterling silver, or silver filled wire. I still don’t use any of the higher priced wire choices as I love copper and some of the bronzes and fabricated wires which keep my jewelry prices affordable.
Next is the decision as to what gauge wire you will want to use. To begin, try working with a thicker wire as it is easier to view your wraps as you work and it is also easier to handle a heavier gauge. I began with an 18 gauge copper wire - thick enough to maneuver and yet not so thick that it is hard or rigid.
Copper is an inexpensive choice to practice with and it has good flexibility and lovely, rich color. Its color can even be chemically manipulated later to show different patina.
Here is an example of what can be purchased at a reasonable price Ad for 18 gauge copper wire from Amazon ==> Click here for a good wire to start with
Many pieces of jewelry can be made using 18 gauge and remember the higher the number the more fine the wire. 20, 22, 24 and even 26 gauge are often used in jewelry with 26 gauge being quite thin. Lower than 18 gauge becomes rather stiff and is more often used in other crafts which require strong structure.
Start somewhere, say with 18, and just practice to find the looks you like and your own comfort level. Wire can be said to be dead soft (very pliable), half hard (some resistance in bending) and hard (most resistance to bending). Wire has a tendency to harden as you work with it.
Each has it uses and with time you will find them! Here’s to your first masterpiece! Enjoy and may you have wonderfully flexible fingers in your future.