Making wire jewelry is so much more fun when you know exactly what you're doing - and what to do when things go wrong.
Goldsmiths, jewelry designers, hobbyists, and jewelry artists all need to use wire to make jewelry. We won't be getting deeply into what the masters do, but even beginners can make beautiful jewelry with a few wire jewelry making skills.
Learning the basics isn't the most exciting part of learning, but you can't run before you can walk. Likewise, you need to know simple fundamentals of wire jewelry making before you can be a master at transforming simple wire into a complex and intricate object of beauty.
What's on this page:
About Wire: a brief introduction
What do I need to get started: your basic beginner tool list
Fundamental Skills and Terminology: basic skills and terms like simple wire-loop making, wrapped loops, eyepins, flush cutting, jump rings, wire weaving, bead-link making and more. What they mean and links to step by step tutorials
Wire is a really easy material to use, and its versatility is nothing short of amazing. Using only wire and some hand-tools, you can make clasps, chains, dangles, findings, charms, beads, embellishments - there are limitless possibilities.
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What Do I Need to Get Started?
Here are some simple tools you need to get started. You can buy tools individually or in a set. I added some links to some online sources to get you started.
Buying Tools One by One
Sometimes it's easiest and best to buy things one by one to get the things you need and not have a bunch of tools you'll never use.
Here is the list of what you need:
Flat-nose pliers: Flat-nose pliers have unserrated (smooth) flat gripping area jaws. They are good for getting a firm grip with their relatively large gripping area. They are often used in conjunction with chain-nose pliers, with the artisan using one in each hand. These flat-nose-pliers are perfect starter quality pliers.
Chain-nose pliers: Chain-nose pliers have unserrated (smooth) flat gripping area jaws, similar to the flat-nose pliers, except they have a smaller finer tip made for getting into tight area (like chain for example). Often used in conjunction with flat-nose pliers. These are a good starter quality chain-nose pliers set.
Round-nose pliers: Round-nose pliers have smoothly rounded tapering cylindrical jaws and are used for making rounded loops with wire. The taper means that you can choose how large the loop is by placing the wire at different points along the cylinder. It is important to not get the cheapest of this type of pliers because it will get frustrating fast to have really crappy round-nose pliers! These are a good starter quality round-nose pliers set.
Fine flat file: A flat file is a simple tool similar to a nail file an is used to smooth any rough edge left by your wire cutters. I'm not sure why files aren't included in sets, but wire end cuts can be sharp so filing them smooth makes any piece of jewelry less irritating to the skin. You will probably find it hard to find files being sold on their own. I know I did! Files usually come in a set of "needle files". Here is a nice inexpensive needle file set to get you started. Tip: Always file by pushing the file away, not by filing back and forth. Filing back and forth can damage your file
Flush cutters: Flush cutters are used to cut your wire. They have a small tip to make it easier to get into tight spaced. Flush cutters are so-called because they make one side of the cut flush (flat). The other cut end is wedge-shaped. Here is a nice set of beginner flush cutters.
Buying a Set of Jewelry Tools
You can get a basic wire jewelry making pliers set inexpensively by going to the link I sourced for you but please note that the set I linked to (as with virtually every set) doesn't include needle files. If you buy a set rather than buying each piece individually do make sure your set includes all the tools you need. Here's a link to a needle file set if you find your set doesn't include it.
You might be wondering whether the files are really necessary if the sets don't include it. Here's why files are necessary: before filing, your wire end cut is sharp. Filing your cut ends make the cut smooth and non-irritating to your skin.
Fundamental Skills and Terminology
Read on for links to the basics to get you started
Jump Rings | Making Wire Jewelry
How to Open and Close Jump Rings Properly Learning how to open and close jump rings properly is one of the most basic and fundamental of all jewelry making techniques. Learn how to do this technique properly once and for all
How to Make a Wrapped Loop One of the most versatile of all basic wire working skills. Learn how to make a wrapped loop and my top 3 reasons for loving the wrapped loop.
Eyepin Making Want to learn making wire jewelry components? Start with some dangly bits. Learn how to make your own eyepins to hang stuff from other stuff.
Headpins | Making Wire Jewelry
Balled Wire Headpins Making balled wire headpins is sooo easy, and kinda fun! These step by step instructions will walk you through it. Don't let the flame scare you. If you can cook something on the stove, you can do this.
Super Basic Headpins Making a handmade headpin is easy and cost-effective. This page has instructions for a super-basic, easy to make headpin.
Beadlinks and Simple Wire Loops | Making Wire Jewelry
Simple Bead Links (made with wire loops) The humble bead link is a versatile component that is the cornerstone of many great pieces of jewelry. Uses the simple wire loop, so if you get into trouble, see the simple wire loop video
Earring Wires | Making Wire Jewelry
How to Make Earring Wires A real honest to goodness tutorial on making your own earring wires. Why buy when you can make them yourself quickly and easily?
How To Measure for a Wire Ring Shank Ring shank wire measuring can be tricky. This tutorial teaches a very simple way to measure the length of wire needed for the shank when making a wire wrapped ring.