Brogan-Arts Blog

January 18, 2010

The Secret of Wire Wrap is Practice

Filed under: Wire Jewelry — Diane @ 9:36 am

Wire and what it can do is limited only by one’s imagination.  The secret to wire wrap is practice. Practice until you think it is perfect.  Try the same piece again later to reinforce the learning.  Practice the same piece a week from now.  Of course all that practice wire costs money.

The case in the picture has five drawers – one drawer for each type of wire I use.  There is 14KT filled, silver, copper, brass, and bronze.  Companies, such as www.RioGrande.com, that sell wire, often buy scrap wire.  If you don’t choose to recycle, it is a neat place to put scrap wire which can have sharp edges.

The secret to wire affordability is in the type of wire.  When I started wire sculpture, I bought a kit.  In the kit was a package of brass “practice wire.”  I soon learned that brass wire was about a tenth of the price of silver or 14KT gold filled wire.  I bought lots of brass wire.  The secret of using practice wire is to use it in the same gauge and temper as the gold or silver wire you intend to use for the final product.

Brass wire is just slightly stiffer than silver or gold.  In a way that is cool.  After mastering brass wire, silver and gold has a smoother feel.  Gold and silver is more pliable and the curves and swirls almost dance into place.
Now I use mostly copper as practice wire.  Copper has the same feel as silver and gold. The most common wire I use is 22 gauge round and square so I have a spool of both gauges in copper ready to use.  If I haven’t done a particular wrap in a while, I like to do a practice run using copper.  After making so many pieces of jewelry from basically the same pattern, one would think that practice is unnecessary.  I am more comfortable doing a practice piece than pressuring myself to make a perfect piece using the more expensive silver or gold wire.
Bronze wire has recently joined my wire choices.  It is similar in color to rose gold.  It has the same feel as silver and gold.  The only problem is that it tarnishes like copper and brass.

The secret to wearing tarnish free brass, bronze or copper is having an easy to use cleaner.  For my personal jewelry, I use Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and polish.  Just place your jewelry in a dish, sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend on top, cover with water and let sit while your shower.  When you are ready to wear your jewelry, rinse well, dry, and enjoy.  Check availability in your area at www.barkeepersfriend.com.  I buy mine at Market Basket for less than $3.00.  I have seen it in catalogs for $19.95 so it pays to shop around a little.

Use brass, copper and bronze for practice or for fashion.  They all have special qualities.

What types of wire do you use?

4 Comments »

  1. Very useful information. I tried using brass practice wire after I had used copper. I surmized that brass was harder than copper, but very glad you verified my findings. I am new to wire wrapping. Thank you for your very helpful information

    Comment by Peggy Barnette — February 26, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  2. Peggy – the whole secret to wire wrap is practice. Good luck in your new venture.

    Comment by Diane Brogan — February 26, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  3. Diane,
    Great article. I found you through Chris. We’re connected on LinkedIn.

    I’m a jewelry hobbyist and started working with wire about a year ago. I haven’t done any thing elaborate yet, mostly wrapped loops for beading. I’m using 24 gauge copper wire plated with either gold or silver. I do waste a lot right now, I’ll consider working with silver wire after I get a little more accomplished.

    Comment by Joanne Capella — July 14, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  4. Joanne,

    Wire is so amazing. Have you seen the website http://www.Brogan-Arts.com. The wire names are our best seller and very rewarding to make. Do you have a website?

    Diane

    Comment by Diane Brogan — July 14, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

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