From Wire to Wow: 6 Design Elements You Can Create with Simple Wire

21 Jan 2013

When I first started seriously making jewelry a few years ago, I had little interest in (or, I'm sad to say, respect for) wire. Most of the wire jewelry that I saw wasn't really my style, and I didn't realize how much of what I was seeing in other designs was actually wire. Fortunately, I soon discovered how versatile--and how everywhere--wire is, in jewelry.

Everyone knows about wire jewelry findings--clasps, ear wires, head and eye pins, bails--but wire doesn't have to be limited to the utilitarian piece that just connects the other design elements together. It can be, and often is, the jewelry element itself, and there are lots of fun ways to make jewelry design elements out of wire. Here are some of my favorites.

 

1. Hammered wire: Nothing gives wire an artisan feel like texturing it with a few good hammer whacks. Texture also adds interest to wire and can mean the difference between a modern or contemporary-feeling piece of jewelry and a warmer, more rustic or vintage-feeling piece.

Tip: Remember that if you hammer overlapping wires, it can weaken the metal where it overlaps.

2. Spiraled wire: Rolling wire into a spiral turns a long, straight, skinny, sometimes boring material into a substantial, curvy, more interesting jewelry design element with depth and dimension. Form the wire into a pointed spiral and you have a leaf; roll into a multi-layered spiral and you have a rose like these shown here; or wire together about five spirals and you have flower petals. Spirals turn flat wire into metal shapes and three-dimensional design elements. (Those are Cindy Wimmer's Spiral Roses from Easy Wire 2010.)

3. Flattened paddles: In my Bead Fest wire and metal master class with Mary Hettmansperger last August, I was introduced to the beauty and genius of paddled wire ends. Such a simple thing, hammering the ends (or even all) of the wire gives it a whole new look and creates new ways to use it in jewelry designs. It also creates "stops" that will hold other materials in place; for example, you can paddle one end of a wire pin, slide on a bead with a hole too small to slip over the paddled end, and then make a loop or paddle the other end too, to create a dangle of it. It's also fun to weave those flattened wires, over-under style, to make a woven metal piece out of just wire.

4. Vines and tendrils: I love the whimsical look of ball-end head pins coiled into vines, flower stamens, or tendrils, especially when layered with flowers like this enameled floral cascade necklace on the cover of Barbara Lewis's Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry. I imagine making a gazillion of them with a single loop in the center, enameling each tip in different colors, and stringing them onto a bangle bracelet.

5. Coiled wire: In her new coiled-wire video workshop, Wire Coiling Secrets with Kerry Bogert, Kerry shares that she uses wire coils in almost every jewelry project she makes, because wire coils make the bare core (inner) wire more substantial. They also help add texture, depth, and interest to your wire jewelry designs.

6. Bonus: Create unique chain. Put a bunch of any of the above together and you have unique wire chain! Whether you coil wire onto loops, twist it into wild little vines or tornado beads, connect long paddle pieces with rivets or jump rings, or hammer regular loops, if you put a bunch of them together, you have truly one-of-a-kind and eye-catching chain.

 
Ready for more great ways to make wire the star of your jewelry designs instead of just the "glue" that holds the rest together? Check out our exciting wire jewelry-making video workshop, Wire Coiling Secrets with Kerry Bogert. We first fell in love with Kerry's happy-colored glass bead and wire jewelry in Totally Twisted and then her rustic and patinated metal and wire jewelry in Rustic Wrappings; now she has combined the color and the wire in a great video workshop. Learn to make colorful coiled-wire jewelry components by hand, "from scratch," with Kerry's techniques and your favorite wire. She even shares her secret technique for making two-tone coils, and like some of the ideas I mentioned above, Kerry creates a stylish bangle bracelet with a focal piece made of simple hammered wire loops. If you love wire jewelry making and are ready for some fresh new designs, order or instantly download Wire Coiling Secrets with Kerry Bogert now!

Free bonus: Use this coiling wire chart to help you determine how much wire of each gauge that you'll need to create certain coiled lengths.


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