Wire Work Jewelry

Wire-wrapped Earrings With Dimensional Dangles Tutorial

If you enjoy wire-wrapping and love earrings, here’s something you may like.  It’s a video tutorial on how to make wrapped loop earrings with those fun dimensional dangles.

OK, I’ll confess — I came up with the term “dimensional dangles” myself.   But to me, it seems to fit.  🙂

Why Dimensional?

Many, many times I have added multiple charms/dangles on a pair of earrings or a pendant.  And while sometimes the “spreading” look is what I want, other times I want a different look.  Sleeker maybe, with some curve instead of just straight lines.

Now I highly doubt that I am the first one to come up with this!  But I did want to share this with you.

Wire Wrapped Earrings

It’s been awhile since I’ve done much wire wrapping.  It’s actually how I first got into jewelry making, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  (Well, maybe not that long, but it’s been awhile.)  I’ve been busy with my bead embroidery, but every so often I like to go back to my roots.

So, wire wrapped earrings it was!  And since I had just made a how-to video on double-wrapped loops and eyepins, it seemed fitting that I would make the earrings with double-wrapped loops.

And Now the Video Tutorial

I’m sure you’re waiting to see the video, LOL.  You’ll need wire (I used 24 gauge), some beads, wire cutters, two pair of pliers (one of which has to be round-nose) and a couple of jump rings (if you decide to make the patters for the second pair I show).

I used red brass wire, which is pretty similar to gold-filled — but a whole lot cheaper!  However, please feel free to use whatever wire you like.  You can also use 22 gauge wire; possibly even 21 gauge in a pinch.  But by the time you make it to 20 gauge, the wraps are harder to make when the loops are small.

Here’s the video.  It’s almost 23 minutes long, so get comfy and enjoy!  And as always, if you enjoy the video, please feel free to like me on Facebook.  😉

Tools for Making Wire Jewelry

Now that we’ve covered what is wire work and wire types, let’s talk a little about the tools for making wire jewelry.

Wire Cutters

Side Cut Versus Flush Cut Wire Ends

Side Cut Versus Flush Cut Wire Ends

One tool that you will definitely need is a good wire cutter; more specifically, a flush cutting wire cutter.  Why flush cut?  And for that matter, what is flush cut?

When making wire jewelry, one thing you don’t want is to have sharp pieces or wire that could poke the wearer or snag on clothing.  A side-cutter will generally cut and leave a sharp point on the wire that you’ll have to file down.

A flush cutter will leave a flat end on the wire that needs little to no filing.

The photo shows an extreme close-up of an angled side cut versus the flat flush cut.


Some Tools for Working With Wire

Some Tools for Working With Wire

If you’ve spent any time reading about making wire jewelry, you know that there are a zillion types of pliers.  OK, maybe not that many, but what are staples of the toolbox, and what are nice extras to have?

Personally, I have two kinds of pliers that I use:  a round-nose and a chain-nose.  However, I have a few different kinds of each.

Round nose pliers are exactly what they sound like:  pliers that have round jaws instead of flat ones.  I have some that have a very fine tip, for working with smaller gauges of wire.  I also have a set with a larger diameter, for heavier wires.

Chain nose pliers have a flat surface for the jaws.  And there are two kinds of “flat surface”.  One is what it sounds like — smooth.  The other has some texture to it.  For wire jewelry, you want a smooth surface that won’t mar the wire.

Chain nose pliers can have wide jaws or jaws with a fine tip.  They can be straight or have a bent nose.   I have both straight tip and bent nose, in several sizes for different gauges of wire.

Nice to Have Tools

Some tools that are nice to have but aren’t totally necessary include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

  • Nylon jaw pliers, to straighten wire and help prevent marring the wire.
  • Wire-wrapping pliers have several “steps” to help make even loops of a specific size.
  • Crimping pliers; not usually thought of as being used with wire jewelry, but useful for tucking in wire ends.

How Much Should You Pay for Tools?

Ah, the question of how much to pay for your tools for making wire jewelry depends on your skill level and if you’d like to try making wire jewelry, but aren’t sure you’ll like it.

If you are just starting out with wire jewelry and aren’t sure if you will like it, I’d suggest an “economy” set of tools.  They aren’t the best quality, but will get the job done.

Once you’ve decided you like wire work, you may want to move up to tools in a mid-range price.  While not top-of-the-line, they are better made than the economy tools (which may break on you after being used awhile).  These are great for most people who work with wire.  OHM is a good example of this kind of quality.

If you make make and sell wire jewelry either part-time or full-time, you’ll want some great tools that will probably last a lifetime.  Lindstrom happens to be my favorite manufacturer, but there are others around as well.  Expect to pay $50 and up for a pair of pliers, but they are definitely worth it if you work a lot with wire.

I have tools in each category.  but for my chain nose pliers, hands down it’s the higher end tools.

Naturally, your own budget will figure into this.  But in general I say buy the best tools you can afford.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with some flush cut pliers, the most necessary item in your tool box.

Wire for Jewelry Making

We’ve talked about wire work, but now what about what you need when it comes to wire for jewelry making.  Let’s take a look.

Wire Materials

There are a few major types of wire materials that are commonly used when it comes to wire for jewelry making.  They are (from least expensive to most expensive):

  • Gold-filled
  • Silver (Fine, Sterling and Argentium)
  • Artistic
  • Copper
  • Brass
Different Kinds of Wire for Jewelry Making

Different Kinds of Wire for Jewelry Making

Now obviously these aren’t all the kinds of wire available!  For example, there is niobium, 14 karat gold, aluminum, steel and more.  They just aren’t used as much for wire jewelry.  No particular reasons, except they are in general more expensive (especially 14 karat gold) or harder to work (stainless steel).  But they can certainly be used, and used beautifully!

Wire Gauges

Wire gauge refers to the thickness of the wire itself.  The most important thing to know is this:  the higher the number, the thinner the wire!  (I know, it seems backwards, but that’s the way it is.)

All kinds of wire gauges are used for wire jewelry making.  I think the most common gauges are probably between 18 and 26.  But for some applications, you may need heavier or lighter wire.  For example, for a wire bangle-type bracelet, a 14 or even 12 gauge wire would be more appropriate.

Wire Hardness

When buying wire, you may or may not see a reference to the wire being hard, half-hard or soft.  Each of them has a use for different kinds of jewelry.

In general, dead soft and half hard are the most often used.  Sometimes full hard is specified for a project, but as it’s it’s difficult to manipulate, it’s least often used.

However, the wire you find in craft stores (artistic, copper and brass) tends to be what I call “soft”.  I don’t believe it’s a real category, but it’s what I call wire that is somewhere between dead soft and half-hard.

Wire Shapes

Along with wire hardness, there is a variety of wire shapes from which to choose.  And while not all kinds of wire comes in the different shapes, here are some of the most commonly seen:

  • Round (which it seems all wire materials uses)
  • Half-round
  • Square

You can also find triangle, oval and twisted shapes.  (Here’s a hint, though — you can make your own twisted wire from square wire.)

Protect Your Eyes!

It’s very important that you use some form of eye protection when working with wire.  It can be prescription, reading or safety.  But why?

If you’re working with wire length longer than 12 inches, it’s possible that the wire can whip around, and you do not want it whipping around into your eyes!  After all, you need your eyes to make jewelry.

Second, you have to cut wire into various lengths, and it’s possible for those little wire bits to go flying, too.

So wear some form of eye protection and be safe.

That’s it for the time being — the next topic will be the tools of the trade (so to speak).   But in the meanwhile, here are some kinds of jewelry making wire available on ebay.  Naturally you can find many of these types in your local bead or craft stores, but if you don’t have one nearby, check out ebay’s options.

Til next time!