The types of wire used in wire wrapping are as varied as wire wrapped artists, almost
anyway. The metal used, hardness, color, wire shape and gauge, are all factors when
deciding which wire you want to work with.
Most of our work here is done using rolled gold wire and sterling silver. These are just our personal preferences, though we also use other metals for practice and for specialty items. Other metals commonly used for wire wrapping is gold, silver, brass, copper, and colored craft wire. We think each type of wire has its use with various beads, stones and gems. Wire comes in different hardness levels, or tempers; like dead soft, quarter hard, half hard, hard and spring hard. Each one has its best uses. Dead soft is very easy to work and bend by hand. As the hardness increases, the wire is more difficult to bend and requires the use of tools to aid you. Wire will become work hardened the more you handle, bend and twist it.
Gauge refers to how thick the wire is. Just like with body jewelry, the smaller the gauge, the larger the diameter of the wire.
Wire also comes in shapes. Round, square, triangle, flat, patterned, twisted; though you can easily twist wire yourself some people prefer to buy it already twisted.
BEADS AND GEMSTONES
Some wire jewelry is made exclusively with wire, but more often than not, you will see wire wrapping that incorporates the use of beads, gemstones, crystals or other items.
Beads and gemstones that are drilled large enough can be threaded onto wire in your work. Cabochons, crystals and other items can be secured just by using your wire wrapping skills to encase and enclose them with prongs, coils, loops, swirls and many different techniques.
There are many different materials that are suitable for wire wrapping, including foreign coins, medals, beach glass, etc. You are only limited by your imagination.
CUTTERS AND PLIERS
Some of the most common tools used in wire wrapping are pliers and cutters. There are many kinds of cutters and pliers that can be used for different techniques and jobs, and several that are multi-purpose and you will find you use them more than others. Some
types of pliers include: wire cutters, flush cutters, nylon jaw pliers, bent nose pliers, chain nose pliers, bail making pliers, and crimping pliers. (We have probably missed some, there are LOTS of tools out there!)
Mandrels are basically metal forms that help you to create certain curves or shapes. There are bracelet, ring and necklace mandrels that help you form the piece to the shape needed for those jewelry pieces, as well as coiling mandrels to help you create coils for your work. It is possible to create without these, but they make it so much easier.
Various other items you might use in your jewelry making include: wire vise, anvil, rawhide hammer, rubber mallet, chasing hammer, polishing cloths, jewelers rouge, ring sizer, earwires, findings, jump rings, files, tweezers and such.
Jewelry designers can be a creative lot and I have seen many things improvised for use in making jewelry items. Wooden dowels used as ring mandrels, pill bottles used to make curves in wire, stripped electrical wires from the hardware store for practice work…the sky is the limit when you are using your creativity.