Brogan-Arts Blog

January 21, 2010

Which wire is which?

Filed under: Wire Jewelry — Diane @ 9:55 am

Wire comes in different tempers, shapes and sizes.

Wire size.
Wire is sized using gauge references with a higher number being a thinner piece of wire.  For instance, 30 gauge and above is good for crocheting wire. 16 gauge is a good size to use for making a bail on a necklace.  The gauge you use is dependent on what you plan to do with it.  I use many different gauges, but today we will talk about 22 gauge. It is the most versatile size for wrapping cameos and many semi precious stones.

Wire Shapes
Wire can be purchased in many forms:  round, square, half round, twisted, triangular, low domed, bezel, gallery, patterned and sheet.  If you are on a budget, it is good to know how you will use the wire before you buy it.

Wire temper.
The most common wire comes in Dead Soft and ½ hard tempers.  ¼ hard, Full Hard is also available at some companies.

Top Choice
If I could have only one type of wire it would be 22 gauge, Dead Soft, round. Dead Soft can be annealed to make it hard or stiff.  Unless you have special tools and use special procedures, you cannot make hard wire soft.

Dead Soft, 22 gauge, round wire can be used for sculpting.  You can also use a piece of the same wire as binding wire.  I discovered the agility of this wire when I was requested to wrap a piece of sea glass.  I have a piece of dark green sea glass wrapped with 22 gauge copper wire.  I get compliments every time I wear it. The top photo is the front view and this photo is the back.

Best Advice
The best advice I can give someone starting out is to use practice wire.  The second best advice I can give you is to buy a pair of nylon jaw pliers. Slightly bent wire can be straightened out with nylon jaw pliers.  You can save a ton of wire by using wire jaw pliers.  I wish someone had told me about them when I started wire wrapping.

Good luck and happy wire bending.


  1. I prefer to work with 22-gauge dead soft wire, as well. Really like your blog!

    Comment by BellaJ — June 3, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  2. Thank you for the kind comments. My blog is somewhat out of date, but one of these days I may start writing again.

    Comment by Diane Brogan — June 6, 2011 @ 11:29 am

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