You’re almost ready to go! By now you’ve purchased the wire wrap tool must haves! You’ve figured out what you want to wrap. Now you just need the wire for wrapping jewelry! After speaking with two fellow wire weavers, Marissa, and Wanda which each have a little bit different wrapping style, these are the gauges, colors, shapes and places to get the best wire for weaving that we came up with.
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Gauging can be difficult because the numbers are backwards! What I mean by this is, you would think the bigger the number the larger the wire right? WRONG! With wire it is the opposite. The larger the number the smaller the wire. Confusing I know, and depending on the size of what you are wrapping you may want thicker wire or thinner wire.
These are the gauges Marissa recommends: 20 gauge for your base wire and 26 gauge for your weaving wire. She also suggests 18 and sometimes 16 gauge if you have a good sized piece you are wrapping. I have used these gauges on a few of my bigger projects and they look great, nice and sturdy. I only used 2 pieces of base wire to get that thick sturdy look. The one downside to these gauges are they can be a little harder on your fingers, and a little harder to bend the way you want them.
Wanda tends to work with a little bit smaller gauged weave wire: 20 gauge as the base wire and 28 gauge as the weave wire. Honestly I prefer the smaller gauge weave wire, it tends to be easier on your fingers. If you wish to give it a thicker look use 3 pieces or more of base wire instead of just 2. This gauge of wire is also easier to bend and loop.
To see the difference feel free to go check out their pages.
Jewelry Wire Vs. Craft Wire
Whats the difference between the two? There are actually a few differences, some of them include hardness, and material they are made out of.
Jewelry wire comes in a variety or materials and hardness depending on what its made out of. Plated is a form of jewelry wire and comes in a base metal covered in gold or silver. Most base metals are either aluminum, brass or copper. Aluminum is considered a soft metal but can be found as half-hard in some places. Its a pretty easy wire to work with and comes in various colors. Copper is another easy wire to work with and can be found in different hardness and colors. Brass is a little harder then copper, but still pretty easy to work with.
Some other materials are sterling silver (considered an alloy because it is mixed with a small amount of copper, hence why sterling silver will tarnish over time). sterling silver wire is usually expensive and sold by the ounce so you don’t really get your moneys worth. In talking with Wanda she has found that a lot of her customers prefer the craft wire, because they don’t like having to clean the sterling silver. Wanda also mentioned that the gold isn’t as soft as the others and can be difficult to work with and time consuming.
Craft Wire is usually a copper based wire with a permanent enamel coating that is tarnish resistant. This wire, because its copper based, and copper is a soft metal, is considered a dead soft wire when talking about hardness. This wire is very easy to work with and bend due to it being soft. Something to watch out for if you are a beginner, is that this wire, because its soft, if you bend, unbend, then bend it again the wire tends to break.
There are 3 different hardness levels in jewelry and craft wire, they are “dead soft”, “half-hard”, and “full-hard”. Craft wire usually tends to be dead-soft, because its made out of copper or aluminum. Full-hard wire tends to be brittle and resistant to bending. Half-hard wire is that happy medium between too soft and not holding its form, and too hard to even try to get it into a form.
Colors and Shape
There are several colors in jewelry and craft wire to choose from. The most common colors of wire are silver, gold, copper and antiqued copper. There are other colors as well such as black, blue, green and purple.
There are multiple shapes of wire that are common in wire wrapping. The most common ones I have seen are round, flat, half round and twisted. Out of these I personally like round or flat. There are others that are twisted square, twisted round, triangle, the list goes on but some are hard to come by and are only sold in certain gauges.
The question to ask yourself about the colors of wire is, is it for you or customers? If it’s just for you then go with what you like. If, however, you plan on turning this hobby into a business then I suggest getting a few different colors to give your customers some options to choose from. The same goes for the shapes, what do you prefer to work with or what do you think you customers would prefer.
What’s memory wire and should I remember it or forget it? The thing to remember about memory wire is it’s not for wire wrapping. This wire holds onto the “memory” of being coiled. It’s great for making beaded necklaces or even bracelets that coil up your arm. It’s a very springy wire that even has a hard time looping depending on the gauge you are using. Think of memory wire like a slinky (if your not too young to remember them).
Where To Buy To Get The Best Deal
The most common place to buy jewelry wire or craft wire is a craft store, because you get it right then and there. The question is, is that the best deal? Answer is no. The best deal is going to be online even though it could take longer to get. If you want something instantly then by all means go to the craft store. Most offer coupons, like Michael’s, 40% one regular priced item. If you’re looking to buy bulk, eBay or Amazon is the way to go, plus you get free shipping!
I will say, sometimes it is nice to go into the craft store and buy a small spool of a certain gauge or color to try it out and see if that’s what you like to work with or not. Once you find a gauge and finish/color you like, or even a brand, feel free to go online and order it in bulk! Also remember when you buy, to buy tarnish and nickel free wire. You or your customers don’t want to wear their beautiful piece a few times and have it look like it’s dull and years old. You want it to look fresh and eye catching.
Down To The Wire
In the end it really depends on what you are choosing to wrap and if it’s for you or a customer, as to what gauge, finish, color and shape you choose. Another thing to consider is how much wrapping you plan to do to determine if you should buy in bulk or just a regular sized spool. For me, I don’t wrap to sell to customers, I wrap for myself or as gifts to friends and family, I have found that I prefer to work with 20 gauge and 28 gauge round copper coated silver wire. I do have other colors and gauges but like I said these are the ones, that through trial and error I have found work best for me. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me. Happy wrapping!