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WIRE WRAP TOOLS
One of the things I love most about using the wire wrap technique for creating unusual jewelry, is how the manipulator can experiment and find which tools, types of wraps, and focals best suit their needs and preferences. There are hundreds of ways to achieve a design goal and make your creations all about YOU, the Wire Manipulator.
Without a doubt, the most important implement you will use to wrap and form the wire you have chosen for your project is your own fingers!
When first cutting a wire to a desire length to begin your wrap, usually from 8” to 14” depending upon the size of the object to be wrapped, it is important to remember to run those cut pieces through your fingers to begin the process. This tends to straighten and smooth out the wire and prepare it for the more formal shaping done by the jewelry tools you will then chose to use. It also helps to make a connection between your thoughts (the planning center), your fingers (the tactile connection), the object to be wrapped, and finally the tools used to carry out the plan.
Maybe, but sometimes I will begin with a project in mind and by following this connection sequence, it is almost as though the wire, the object, and the implements make a beneficial change in the plan obvious. Throughout your work, let your fingers make slight adjustments and smoothing strokes. With time, it will become second nature.
When you purchase your first tools, you might consider buying a kit which should include the basics,
such as wire cutters (jewelers)
and chain-nosed pliers
When I began making tumbled rock jewelry, I used only bent-nose pliers, round-nose pliers and a cutter, which I still probably use more often than any other implements. Since then, I have added quite a few items and your selection will grow to encompass what you might need for new design ideas, such as adding beading to your repertoire.
==> Click Here for a 3-piece Plier Tool Kit, plus a magnifying glass (Handy!)
Keep in mind, tools used in your jewelry work normally are configured for hand movement and dealing with smaller items, so the handles usually are bound for comfort and 4 or 5” in length. Some are ergonomically designed and have springs. Paying a bit more for quality often will reduce stress and strain to your hands and fingers.
A small collection of jewelry files can be invaluable. Most files need not be longer than 4 or 5”…again, time will dictate what your designs require.
==> Click Here for a kit of needle files that will likely meet your needs:
To complete your basic tool kit, you’ll need a sharp pair of cutters which can handle various jewelry weight wires.
==> Click Here for the very basic type I use frequently and replace should it start to dull.
.......Consider wearing safety glasses, particularly when cutting wire.....
Over time you might find a need to add the following tools:
- mandrels to make jump rings and for ring sizing,
- wire benders
- wig jigs,
- bail making tools
- a burnisher
- planishing hammer
- and steel block
- liver of sulphur
- and the many specialty pliers available for specific uses
If you budget allows and somewhat dependent upon your needs, here are two other tool kits you might consider purchasing:
==> Click Here for a nice basic kit
==> Click Here for more jewelry making tools
Experiment and explore the possibilities!
Stay tuned for more wire wrap jewelry topics.
The Wire Manipulator, Sands
LEARNING TO WIRE WRAP USING TUMBLED ROCKS
Easiest first step is to watch the many 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...I sure wasn't!
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. A tumbler is a valuable aid for handmade jewelry ideas.
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
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. Polished rock jewelry takes time!
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 discovered the rock on your own hunt!
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 with a lovely, rich color. Its color can even be chemically manipulated later to show different patina.
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. Next addition to my blog will be Tools for Wire Wrapping and Other Jewelry Making Supplies...stay tuned.
The Wire Manipulator, Sands
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