Wire Wrapping and Beading
Wire jewelry making is a fun and increasingly popular way to design, craft, and sell beautiful jewelry designs! Wire is a versatile medium, and it’s great for any market. Copper and Brass wire are great to start wire wrapping with, as they are inexpensive and easy to buy in bulk–but they still sell well in finished pieces. The finest wire jewelry is made from gold filled wire–often 14-karat–and sterling silver wire, and wire jewelry made from these precious metals command prices in the hundreds of dollars!
Now, within the “wire jewelry world,” there are many flavors of wire wrapping. Creating wire-only designs is a great place to start, creating rings and cuffs solely from wire. Many people enjoy wrapping gemstone pendants and cabochons for necklaces and cuffs. Some people even create trees and floral art, hairpieces, earrings, and more with delicate wire designs. And some people love to create chain maille, which, as you may imagine, is composed of many little circles, called jump rings. Chain maille (which is commonly spelled chainmaille, chain maille, and chain mail–a matter of personal preference) can be extremely intricate to astonishingly simple. Here’s an easy way to get started.
You can buy pre-made jump rings, or you can make your own. To make your own, all you need is some round wire—I recommend 22-gauge half hard—a pair of round nose pliers, and a pair of wire cutters. Of course, chain maille isn’t limited to wire only—so feel free to bring any gemstone beads, CZs, or drilled gems that you’d like to incorporate in the design. Just be sure that the bead will fit on the wire!
To make a jump ring, the first thing you need to do is straighten your wire. Most wire comes curved in a coil, so take your forefinger and thumb and run them along about 6 inches of wire to combat the curve, until the wire lies straight.
Next, place the end of your straightened wire in the jaws of your round nose pliers. The closer you place the wire to the jaw pivot point, the bigger your jump rings will be; I usually make mine as big as possible, but you can play around with it. Then, we start turning the pliers. Close the jaws of the pliers firmly, and turn the pliers down and away from your body. Only turn your wrist as far as it’s comfortable, and then open the pliers, rotate the wire, and turn again. You can keep doing this until you have a whole spiral of jump rings! Turn as much as you like, and then cut the wire with your wire cutters when you’ve turned enough.
Then, to cut your jump rings, simply cut each ring along the side of the spiral. You can then open the jump ring with flat nose pliers to place a bead on the jump ring.
The easiest way to open a jump ring is with two sets of pliers. Take two pairs of flat nose pliers, one in each hand, and place the jump ring halfway in one jaw, with the closure facing away from you. If you’re right-handed, grasp the left side of the ring in your left hand’s pliers, and keep this stationary. Then, with your right-hand pair of pliers, bend the right half of the jump ring down, away from you. Simply add your bead (or beads) and reverse the steps to close the ring! This is much simpler that bending the jump ring’s “arms” out, and disfiguring the ring.
So, what’s a project you can make with jump rings?
Here are a pair of earrings, made from two different sizes of jump rings, beads, and headpins and ear wires. Now that you know how to make and use jump rings, you can make earrings like this, easy!
So to get started making wire jewelry, all you need is some wire, some pliers, and your own creativity! A great place to start is Wire-Sculpture.com–we have the wire, tools, beads, gemstones, and educational DVDs that will turn you into a wire wrapping pro!
So have fun, find some wire and pliers, explore the world of wire jewelry making!