Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wire wrap necklace tutorial: Materials and tools

So you have your design all thought out and your pattern is ready! Now what? More designing! That's right! Just when you thought you'd be ready to break out the pliers, right? Well there are reasons for my perceived madness!

This is the time we gather our supplies and tools together. This may not sound like it's part of your design, but it is. Aside from the tools you will need (I'll talk about those later) you will need some embellishments for your necklace and your wire colors down. Embellishments can be beads, a shell, maybe a piece of wood, gemstones, micro gears, whatever. For this particular necklace I had no idea what I was going to include with it except that there was going to be a center piece and smaller beads littering the wire wrappings in the centers. I came up with the small pearl colored glass beads and the carved stone roses when I went to my local craft store. You can find stuff for your necklaces anywhere though- buttons, re-purposed broken jewelry, thrift stores, yard sales, bits of neat looking natural stones or wood from the forest.

You can also make your own beads. Do some googling on the subject and you'll find a million tutorials on making your own beads. Sky is the limit here. If you're heart is set on gem stones though, you're in for some hard times. I would wait before trying to create a wire setting as the difficulty level is about as high as it gets for that. Plus you would need special square cut wire and such. Maybe another time I'll do a tutorial on gem setting for these types of necklaces or making your own cool beads.

*** An important thing to note is that your beads will need to be able to be strung on your thinner gauge wire.

All this talk of gauges and wire and color might seem confusing, but have no fear! All will be revealed. When doing a wire wrapped anything you'll always start with a larger gauge wire. This means the wire will be strong and the diameter will be thicker. Unfortunately the packaging of the wire I'm using is gone so I can't tell you the specific gauge of my thicker gold wire. It's actually a finer gauge than I normally use, but it's tensile strength is pretty high for it's thickness/gauge so it should hold up just fine. When purchasing your wire, you really won't know what you're getting till you get in there and use it usually. Sure there are sites out there that sell high grade jeweler's wire that will tell you the wire's gauge, diameter, tensile strength, and so on, but if you're starting out you won't know what any of that actually means to your jewelry anyways. Also if you feel adventurous you can check out your hardware store for all sorts of other wire.

While the look and size of your wire is important, there's also a few other thing people tend to forget. Will the wire age well? Will it rust? Change color over time? Will the wire react to the wearer's skin? That last question is really important. I can't tell you how many earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings I've worn that have left a weird color on my skin, or my friends have worn and then told me about how they broke out in a rash. I'm not really an expert on the subject, but I try to get nickle free coated wire where I can to avoid issues. I also keep a look out for good deals on safe metals, but usually those only happen with settings or fasteners. It's just prohibitively expensive to get a spool of silver plated wire or gold plated wire usually. If you want to know about about the subject though, I recommend google for all your research needs.

Onto the nitty gritty though! Number wise, the smaller gauges = thicker wire.The thicker wire, I keep calling the larger gauge, which obviously is wrong an confusing, but it's basically me saying the thicker wire. I'll try to be less confusing about it, but I can't promise anything as it's just a bad habit that's hard to break. For the fine wire, 20 gauge is too large a circumference, you'll probably want something along the lines of 28 gauge. Of course with craft stores and all, the gauge may not be on the packaging, so you'll have to eye ball it. For the thicker wire I'd say somewhere around 14- 10 gauge.

The tools you'll need are as follows: Thin precision jeweler's pliers, regular larger jeweler's pliers, Flat nosed pliers for those precision angles and straightening, wire cutters(sometimes included with jewelers pliers) and soft tip pliers. If you're poor like I am, you can just wrap a pair of jeweler's pliers in fabric. It's harder to use but it'll do in a pinch. You also have the option of wrapping the wire part in question in a small piece of fabric. Honestly you probably need only one pair of jeweler's pliers at all. I have two pair because sometimes I use one in either hand like a boss (though I doubt it looks like I'm a boss from anyone else's perspective haha).

That's about it!

Quick list:
Thin gauged wire
Thick gauged wire
Flat head pliers
Jeweler's pliers
Some sort of wire cutter
Soft nosed pliers or fabric

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