*A How-to-Make-Jewelry.com Exclusive*
Wire Work E-Lessons
A Quick Start Guide to the Basics
Published by Christine Gierer
Day 1 of a 5-Day E-Course
In Today's Lesson...
"4 Simple Steps to Getting Started With Wire"
Making wire jewelry isn’t hard. You just need some know-how. So in these lessons, you’ll be getting some of that know-how and you’ll be obsessed like all of us other wire worker types before you know it.
(Don’t be scared though- it’s a good type of obsessed J)
So I know you’re raring to go – Let’s get started!
If I could sum up how to get a running start with wire work in 4 steps, here is what they would be:
- Get the right tools
- Gather your materials
- Learn some basic techniques
- Practice practice practice
Let’s briefly take a look at each of these.
The Right Tools
To work with wire, you’re going to need some specialized tools. Your everyday hardware store tools just aren’t going to cut it here. Luckily, you can inexpensive versions of all of these, but you do get what you pay for, and if you can afford it, good quality pliers and cutters are where you should spend your money.
Pro Tip: “Quality pays for itself. Don't be like me. I've spent so much money replacing cheap pliers and cutters with other cheap pliers and cutters. With all of that money I could have bought some great pliers many times over.
So here’s what you’ll need at a minimum – and you can find the starter kind at a craft store or places like Wal-mart if you don’t have a beading store close by:
- A pair of flat-nosed pliers
- chain-nosed pliers
- round-nosed pliers
- Flush side cutters
These are what we’ll be using in this e-course.
Gather your materials
Practice wire is what you need to start with. In this course we’ll be using 20 gauge copper wire which is a pretty good all around inexpensive practice wire. It is soft enough to be forgiving, and thick enough to hold its shape pretty well. You can find this wire at the hardware store.
As you get more inexperienced, you’ll want to explore the qualities of other wire I’m sure. But for now let’s keep it simple.
Learn some basic techniques
The basic techniques you need to learn as a beginner are these:
- How to flush cut wire
- How to make a plain loop
- How to make a wrapped loop
- How to open and close a loop (or jump ring) properly
After you get familiar with those, you’ll have a good grounding in the basics- which makes everything soooo much easier afterwards.
Here’s a quick primer on each of the basic techniques.
One of the keys to working with wire is this: Always flush cut your wire to begin. To do this, take your side flush cutters, use the flat side, not the wedge-shaped side, and make sure it’s on the “good” side of your length of wire. The “good” side is the side you’re using in your finished product.
Then with your cutters positioned this way, snip off that little end bit of the wire. You’ll notice it’s now cut flat. Do it the wrong way, and you get a sharp wedge shaped end that can rip and tear your skin. Not the effect most jewelers are going for!
The Plain Loop:
A plain loop looks like this:
To make one, you use your round nose pliers to grab the end of your wire, wrap the wire around the barrel of the pliers, then with a quick twist of the wrist, bend the loop back so that it sits on top of the wire like a lollipop.
The Wrapped Loop
A wrapped loop looks like this:
Here’s how to make one . Grab your length of wire with your pliers about an inch or two from the end. Using your fingers, wrap the 2 inch long length of wire around the barrel of the pliers to form a loop. Reposition the pliers in the loop as necessary to make the full circle. It should now look like this:
Now make that little twist to make the loop sit on top like a lollipop, then take your flat nose pliers and grab the whole loop to hold it steady. With your fingers, grab the tail and wind it around the base of the loop like this:
Then flush cut the excess, and use your chain nose pliers to flatten down that little end bit that always remain.
Opening and Closing a Loop Properly.
Believe it or not, opening and closing a loop or jump ring properly is the techniques that beginners most often get wrong. And getting this wrong means your loop or ring gets all bent out of shape and it’ll loop really crappy.
Here’s the right way to do it. Hold the two sides of the loop with your pliers, and pull one pair forward and one pair backwards to open the loop without distorting it. Like this:
to open the loop sideways like this:
To close the loop, just do the opposite.
And that’s it for basic techniques. Now you just have to…
Practice practice practice
Now the very last key – the cherry on the top so to speak – to getting your running start in wire work, is of course practice, practice, practice.
Have you ever seen the movie the Matrix? Stick with me on this. I’m not running off on a tangent. In the movie, the main character Neo sits in this chair, hooks his mind up to the mainframe, and just uploads skills as he needs them. Wouldn’t it be great if you could learn that way?
Unfortunately, we can’t just upload a skill and automatically master it like in the Matrix. (More’s the shame. I would LOVE that).
So the only way I know to get good at something is to practice. To learn you need to do.
Your Lesson 1 Assignment:
I hope you didn’t think we were done already! Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you can slack off. (I know you won’t though because this is actually fun). You have 2 days until the next lesson so get started:
- 1. Beg, borrow, or buy your tools
- Chain nose pliers – 1pair
- Flat nose pliers – 1 pair
- Side Flush Cutters – 1 pair
- Round nose pliers – 1 pair
- 2. Find some practice wire – 20 gauge copper or similar
- 3. Try out each of the 4 techniques explained above, and
- 4. Practice practice practice.
Pretty simple, right? Don’t worry, once you get started, you’ll be a quick study.
Have fun with those basic techniques. In the next lesson, we'll cover...
"3 Wire Work Mistakes that Can Sabotage your Efforts – and waste your Time and Money "