How to Start Making Wire Jewelry
Have you ever wanted to start making some wire jewelry but then found yourself, wire and pliers in hand, instruction book at your side, utterly confused and intimidated? Having been there myself, I determined to find a simple solution.
When I took my first metalsmithing class, I was immediately drawn to wirework. All I could do with wire at that time was crochet. So I did that and while happy with my results, I wanted to do more, learn more, create more. Wire wrapping hadn't really come into play at that time and I didn't feel experienced enough to try some of the more involved wire weaving techniques I'd seen. I also wanted to create my own techniques, see what I could come up with that was original. So I'm going to share the easy method I used to start making wire jewelry.
First, I went to the hardware store and purchased a few different types of wire in different gauges (sizes or thicknesses). I chose brass and copper wire and also aluminum picture framing wire. Next, a quick stop at the local hobby shop where I purchased several sizes of hollow brass dowels in small, medium and large. To get a feel for some of the different wires, I just started winding them around a few dowels.
My first real challenge was to teach my hands to wind the wire on the dowel into a straight and tight coil. I tried this with several different wire types and gauges until I felt pretty familiar with how each wire "worked" and how flexible it was. Then I started trying the different types of wire on the different size brass dowels to see if they performed differently. I tried each wire type and gauge on small, medium and large sized dowels and made each wire coil one inch long on the dowel. Wow, was I surprised at the results!
Just by using three variables, the different wire types, the different wire gauges and the different sized dowels, I'd made an amazing array of, well, simple wire beads! All I had to do was curl the ends of the wires into small loops and poke them inside the coils to finish them.
I was off and running! I started assembling all my little wire beads into attractive groupings to make jewelry. Next, I started twisting different wires together and then winding these twisted wires around the dowels to add texture and variety to my beads. Then I started using some oxidants (these come in liquid from jewelry supply houses) to blacken or darken some of the beads for even more variety.
Just adding two more variables, the twisted wire and the oxidant liquids, I now had five different things I could do to make a very wide variety of very simple wire beads.
My first attempt to make jewelry with these beads was to make a pair of earrings with two identical beads. I simply got a set of head pins (these are just long straight wires with a little "head" at the bottom end), put a glass bead on first, added my wire bead, then another glass bead. I then curled the top end of the headpin over a standard, manufactured ear wire. Voila, my first pair of wire earrings!
By following through on this simple exercise, I taught myself a great deal about wire for jewelry making in a quick and simple way. I learned which wires worked best on which dowels and using just my five variables, I'd provided myself with endless options for making my simple wire beads and jewelry.