Monday, May 20, 2013

Boot Camp #3: Wire Work-Out

by Staci L. Smith

This Boot Camp is going to be all about working with wire.  We are gonna work out our wire skills and grow some muscles!!!!  Learning some very basic skills in wire can open a huge world of possibilities in jewelry design.

 sea glass swirls by Staci Louise Smith

Whether you are just jumping from stringing to wire work, or are an old pro, we hope to give you some information and inspiration to get your wheels turning. 

Boot Camp is all about you taking a new or existing skill, and getting creative with it- or, for newbies, even just trying it out.  I really hope that no one is shy here, because we all started somewhere, and we are all continuing to learn and grow.  So join in, share your attempts and successes in our flickr group, and join the fun.

I am no expert in wire wrapping, I have no formal training, I am not the tidy, measuring my wire and making each twist neat wire worker.  However, I will share what I know with you, and feel free to share as well, if you have more information then I have offered.

I thought I'd talk about some simple wire basics:

There are three hardness's of wire, hard, half hard, and dead soft.  I always use dead soft for all my wire work.  It works easily, and holds it shape the best.  It is exactly how it sounds, its dead soft.

Hard and Half hard are springier, and they are mostly used for clasps and ear wires.

You also have many kinds of metal wire to chose from:

sterling silver: works easily, desirable, but expensive

silver filled: works a little tougher then silver, desirable, less expensive then sterling

copper:  works easily (more easily then silver), very inexpensive

brass:  works a little tougher then copper, inexpensive, doesn't antique as easily as silver and copper

annealed steel wire:  easy to work with, strong, must be sealed though or it will rust

For today's intro, here is a little tutorial on wrapping a briolette so it has that extra wrapping to create an organic look.
First, chose your briolette.
I like to use the thickest wire possible without stressing the hole of the stone (you still have some flexibility and movement).  In this case, I chose 22g copper.
Cut a long piece- for this briolette I used 1' of wire, but I could have used more in hindsight.  It's better to have more then not enough.

Put the wire through hole, leaving about 1" on one side, and the rest on the other.

Turn the wires up, following the contour of the brio.
Cross them, straighten the long one at the point of the brio- so its centered- and wrap the short end around that wire.

Make your loop at the top.  Through the process, make sure you are centered over the brio.
Now, take the excess wire and wrap it semi-loosely down the brio until you reach the point where the hole is.

When you cover the hole, wrap back up and down until it is filled in thicker at the bottom then the top.   Make sure you finish at the top, and that it is wound tightly for the last couple times.  This is what will hold your wrapping securely. 

Trim and tuck your wire end in tightly so it won't catch on anything.

If you need more wrapping, cut another piece, and wrap tightly around the top, wrap in down and up and tuck both ends in. 
It takes a little practice, but I just love the look you end up, and think its worth wire to try it until you are happy with it. 

Well, I hope you will join us this month!  Can't wait to see what you guys do with wire work as your guide!


Unknown said...

Hi Staci,
I've been wrapping Brio's for a while now and sometimes the wire wants to pull up and not stay down wrapped around the Brio. Maybe I'm not wrapping the last few tight enough?

Artisan Beads Plus said...

That looks great! I just made some wood-fired beads that you gave me an idea for! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with :o)

Mystic Indigo said...

What a great tutorial...I am the worst at wrapping brio's...this really helps me a lot!

stacilouise said...

Cory- I would make sure you wrap as tightly as you can, and then tightly at the top especially, but also, make sure you are using dead soft wire. half hard or hard will want to un-wind and hold its original shape.

stacilouise said...

Cory- I would make sure you wrap as tightly as you can, and then tightly at the top especially, but also, make sure you are using dead soft wire. half hard or hard will want to un-wind and hold its original shape.

Anonymous said...

Yeah!!! I've been waiting for the next Boot Camp to start. Rustic wrapping is my favorite for two's not about perfection and looks so great when oxidized with all the nooks and crannies.
Thanks, Staci Louise.

surgical girl said...

great breakdown of the wire types too!

Unknown said...

I always struggle with wrapping briolettes but I'm determined to crack it this time. I guess it's one of those techniques that just needs practice, practice, practice!!!

stacilouise said...

We will be showing you lots of little techniques for this boot camp! And its not just organic wire wrapping, thats my style, hopefully with the other gals in the group, you will get a nice variety skills to play with.

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in an alternative way to rustically wire wrap briolettes, I just posted the method that works for me. BYW, I'd love to know the person who first 'invented' this because I'm indebted to them, as I too struggle for a long time with the traditional technique. If you do know, please share with me. Thanks!

Can't wait to see what others share!

Linda said...

This is a great tutorial, Staci! Improving my wire working skills is one of my goals for 2012, so I'm really looking forward to this boot camp! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I use wire in almost everything I make. I have never wrapped a briolette. I do, however have a couple of teardrop pendants and I think that I could use this same technique. I'm going to try it.

Carol B said...

Thank you so much! I use the messy/rustic wrap style a lot but have never conquered the briolette. Now I see why. I was making a wrapped loop with the short wire, then trying to wrap the longer wire up and down the stem. I'd end up not being able to control the wrap and it would go all wonky. Briolettes will be tackled soon!!!

LisaS said...

great info! Looking forward to trying some new techniques ;)

Carol B said...

How do I get to the Boot Camp? This is the only post I found about the wire Boot Camp.


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