What Are Wire Wrapping Techniques?
Essentially, wire wrapping is the process of taking a wire and wrapping it around itself or other wires to create jewelry. Wires can also be wrapped around different jewelry-making components such as clasps and beads.
The type of wire wrapping involved in creating jewelry will depend on each specific project. Some jewelry making projects require very little wrapping or none at all, while others require plenty of dexterous wrapping techniques.
Wrapping wire also allows you to create and secure wire loops, create wrapped pendants, and wrapping wire to connect cup chains and the main bangle construction. While wrapping wire, you will likely have to perform other actions on the wire such as curving, bending and other methods of metallic manipulation to fulfill the design requirements of the present design.
Knowing how to wrap wire effectively allows the jeweler to create the best-looking pieces, and the higher the quality of the wire wrapping, the better the output, and the higher the value of the jewelry (if you are planning to sell them).
How to wrap wire for jewelry making
The best way to learn and improve your wire wrapping skills is by starting small and by studying how it is done in simpler designs. Also, we do not recommend that you practice using expensive metals like gold and silver. Work with cheap materials in the beginning and make sure that you have at least intermediate skills before proceeding to experiment with gold alloys and the like.
When you are finally familiar with how metal behaves and what tools you should be grabbing, you can venture out to manipulating more expensive metals. The best exercises for wire wrapping including wire wrapping beaded constructions, doing weave designs and performing wire netting as well.
Starting wire wrapping can be easy if you watch tutorials and if you observe how other designers blueprint their designs. The basic wire wrap is called the “P” loop, which can be done by gently looping the wire until the looped part touches the main body of the wire again.
The movement should be gentle and continuous, and the loops should have consistent sizes as well, for a more pleasing output. Unlike soldered jewelry, wire wrapped jewelry has mechanical connections between all of the components. The eye loop is a technique used by professional jewelers, and it is done by centering the loop over the wire. The eye loop looks a little bit like a lollipop when done properly.
The simplest application of wire wrapping is through beadwork, where a wire is looped into a bead and is secured by wounding the wire around the bead to maintain its distance from the next bead. The bead can then be looped again, and various tools can be used to crimp and cut the wire flush.
Types of Wire for Jewelry Making
Jewelry wire is categorized based on its gauge or thickness. The thicker the gauge of the wire, the more challenging it would be to push it through the narrow spaces of beads. However, these larger wires can be used to create stunning wire wrapped pendants that can withstand the test of time. Thick jewelry wire or heavy-duty wire is recommended if you are working with larger stones and the bases of bracelets. It is also necessary if you want to install heavier clasps and rings with more mass than usual. Go for 14-gauge wires or if you need something thinner, 16-gauge wires for projects that have more heft than usual. What these wires provide is a different take on the usual aesthetic for jewelry. If you are interested in bohemian jewelry or even steampunk jewelry, heavy-duty wires are the way to go, especially if you feel that size does matter and the heft of the wires contributes to the final aesthetic of the pieces.
Next in line are medium jewelry wires that are preferred by the largest number of jewelers because they are sturdy and versatile. We move up just two points from the heavy-duty category (18 and 20) for medium jewelry wires. If you are dominantly using beads in your designs you may find it difficult to thread gauge 20 wires continuously. If this is the case then what you need to do is to go up another gauge (22), and this wire thickness should be thin enough for most specialty beads. Medium gauge wires are also excellent for improving the aesthetic of your pieces because they come in so many beautiful colors.
And finally, we have thin jewelry wire. Thin jewelry wire is the optimal choice for smaller and lighter decorative pieces. Gauges 26, 28 and 30 are considered thin jewelry wires, and they can be used for intricate weaving, loops, and bends. If you are thinking of creating ornate twisted bracelets and similar pieces, go for the thinnest wires. Be warned though that thin wires can be bent out of shape easily, and you can also accidentally mar these or even cut them if you are not careful.
As parting guidance, always use the right kind of tools for creating jewelry, and do not practice on expensive wires until you know that you can do it in one go. Alloys of copper and brass are excellent for practice creations because these wires are relatively inexpensive. Take note also that wires have different shapes. The most common is the square wire, followed by round wires and D-shaped wires. D-shaped wires are best used for ring shanks due to the sloping of the edges of the wire.
Round wires, on the other hand, are considered “all-around” wires and are best used for wire wrapping. Square wires are preferred for creating earrings with a lot of geometric components and sharp angles. If you are a complete beginner, the best type of wire to practice with is the round wire because it is best suited for wrapping. Once you have mastered the ground wire, you can proceed with the D-shaped wire and the square wire.