How to Make Jewelry with Wire

Wire is used to make chains and findings for many types of jewelry. The strength, flexibility, and natural beauty of wire also makes it perfect for creating beautiful embellishments on beaded jewelry or pendants. Some artfully wrapped or woven wire can also stand alone as an elegant piece. Master the basics of wire wrapping and wire weaving, and you’ll soon be able to create an array of gorgeous wire jewelry.

Method One of Four:
Selecting Your Materials

1
Get a set of jewelry pliers and cutters. For most basic wire jewelry projects, you will need a set of wire cutters, some round-nosed pliers, and some chain-nosed pliers. You can purchase these tools at most arts and crafts stores or jewelry and beading supply stores.[1]
Other useful tools include bent-nosed pliers for fine detail work and flat-edged pliers for making sharp angles in your wire.

2
Pick the wire color and material you like best. The most common colors for jewelry wire are silver, gold, or copper, but you can also get color-coated wire in every imaginable shade. Different types of wire also have different properties, so keep this in mind when making your selection.
Base-metal wires (such as copper or stainless steel) or alloys (like brass or nickel silver) are relatively inexpensive. These are good options when you are still learning to work with wire.
Popular precious metal jewelry wire materials include sterling silver, gold, and gold-filled (an alloy with a gold coating). Sterling silver tends to tarnish, while gold does not. Gold is softer and easier to dent or scratch, however.
Memory wire retains its coiled shape, so it’s great for making simple beaded bracelets or chokers.
3
Purchase wire in a variety of gauges. Depending on the piece you are making, you may need thicker or thinner wire, or a combination of thicknesses. The lower the gauge number of the wire, the thicker it is. High-gauge wires are good for elaborate coils and weaves, while low-gauge wire is best for sturdier elements like links and clasps.[2]
For example, you might use a 28-gauge wire for a delicate wire crochet bracelet. If you wanted to make a heavy-duty clasp for a necklace, 10-gauge would be a better bet.
4
Choose harder wire for the best shape retention. Most jewelry wire comes in 3 different levels of hardness: dead soft, half hard, and full hard. Softer wires are easier to bend than harder wires, but do not hold their shape as well as harder wires.[3]
Dead soft wire is best for delicate work that requires a lot of flexibility, such as wire weaving or wire crochet. The wire will naturally begin to stiffen as you work with it.
Dead soft wire can also be useful for making findings or other elements from very thick wire that would otherwise be difficult to shape. When you’re done, you can tap all over the finished wire shape a few times with a rubber mallet on a steel plate to harden (temper) it.
Full hard wire is difficult to bend and can snap easily if you stress it too much. It is the best at retaining its shape, however.
Half hard wire is relatively easy to shape and also retains its shape well. This kind of wire is good for creating sturdy links and load-bearing elements.
5
Buy prefabricated findings to make your projects easier. Jewelry findings are elements like clasps, connectors, chains, and pins. You can purchase findings in arts and crafts or jewelry supply stores. You can incorporate pre-made findings into your hand-made pieces to add extra flair and make your job a little easier.
For example, you can make a unique necklace by attaching beads to a prefabricated chain with wrapped wire links.
Decorative chandelier earring findings make great bases for elegant wire-wrapped bead earrings.[4]
Method Two of Four:
Creating Basic Wire Links
1
Select a medium-gauge wire. Since links are load-bearing elements, you’ll need a wire that is thick enough to be relatively sturdy. A 20-gauge half-hard wire is typically a good choice.[5] Using half hard wire (as opposed to dead soft) can also help strengthen your links.
If you’re using beads, make sure the wire is thin enough to go through the drill holes. For very tiny beads, you may need a higher gauge.
2
Snip off the very end of the wire with the flush side of your cutters. Take the length of wire you are working with and clip off a very small amount of wire from the end to make a flat edge. The flat (flush) edge of the wire clippers should face the length of wire you will be working with (rather than the end you are snipping off).[6] You will be using this flat end of the wire to make your loop.
If you like, you can make your loop in the wire while it is still on the roll, or you can cut off a longer length of wire (e.g., around 12 inches (30 cm)) to work with. If you do cut a piece off the roll, don’t cut it too short, or you may end up without enough wire to make your link.
If you’re making a loop at the end of a prefabricated finding, such as a head pin, you probably will not need to cut off any of the wire.
3
Pinch the end of the wire with your round-nosed pliers. Gently grasp the very end of the wire between the ends of your pliers. The wire should be flush with the pliers, so that you can’t see the end extending beyond the pliers when you look at them in profile.[7]
Round-nosed pliers have tapered ends, so position the end of the wire closer to the base if you want a bigger loop and nearer to the tip if you want a tighter loop.
Take care not to squeeze the wire too tightly, or you may dent it. You only need to exert enough pressure to hold the wire in place.
4
Roll the end of the wire away from you gently to form a loop. Once the wire is securely in place, turn the hand holding the pliers away from you so that the wire begins to wrap around one of the jaws of the pliers. Press the wire against the pliers with the thumb of your free hand as you do this. Once you’ve turned your wrist as far as it will go, reposition the pliers within the loop so that you can turn them again. Do this until you have a complete loop.[8]
When you reposition the pliers, make sure the wire is still about the same distance from the base of the pliers as it was when you started. Otherwise, your loop will be a little misshapen.
5
Rock the loop back with the round-nose pliers to center the loop. When you’re done wrapping the wire around the jaw of the pliers, you should have a “p” shape. In order to center the loop over the end of the wire, insert one of the jaws into the loop and gently pinch the wire right at the base of the loop. Grip the wire tightly at the base of the loop with your free hand and use the pliers to bend the wire back slightly so that the loop is centered over the length of the wire like the dot of an “i.”[9]
If your wire is too thick to bend into place with the round-nose pliers, you may need to use chain-nose pliers instead.
6
Use your chain-nose pliers to close the loop. After you complete the loop, there may be a small gap between the end of the loop and the rest of the wire. Grip the end of the loop with your chain-nose pliers and gently work it back and forth while pushing in until the gap is closed.[10]
Don’t try to squeeze the sides of the loop together from the outside, or you will end up with a squashed loop!
7
Make a wrapped loop for extra security. For a completely closed loop with a slightly fancier appearance, use your chain-nose pliers to make a 90° bend in the wire about 2 inches (5.1 cm) from the end. Make a loop as you normally would just above the bend, this time leaving a “tail” that extends beyond the wire at a 90° angle. Wind the tail tightly around the wire below the bend 3-4 times.[11]
When you’re done, use your cutters to snip off any remaining tail. You can tighten the wrap by gently squeezing it at the top and bottom with your chain-nose pliers or your fingernails.
This technique is easiest to do when you already have a bead on the wire. Grip the wire just above the bead when you make your 90° bend. This will leave a few millimeters of space between the bead and the loop around which to wrap the tail.
You will not be able to open this loop once it is complete, so you’ll need to attach it to an element you can open, such as a simple loop or a jump ring.
8
String one or more beads on the wire if you like. If you wish, you can slide a bead onto the wire and then make a second loop on the other side. This way, you can link several beads together. You could also drop a bead onto a flat-ended head pin and make a loop above the bead. You can then add the bead to a chain or ear hook as a charm or bangle.
Check online or in beading books or magazines for design inspirations using simple wire loops or wrapped links.
Method Three of Four:
Making Simple Wire-Wrapped Pendants
1
Select a stone or other object to wrap. You can use just about anything—like a tumbled stone, a crystal, a piece of sea glass, a coin, or even a shell or shark tooth. For this project, you will be making a basket or cage around the object with wire to create a pendant that you can hang on a necklace.
Objects that are somewhat irregularly shaped and widest in the middle are easiest to wrap using this technique.
Most wrapped pendants are not much longer than about 2 inches (5.1 cm), but you are free to wrap a bigger object if you wish. Keep in mind that larger objects will need more wire to wrap them than smaller ones.
2
Cut 2 equal lengths of medium-gauge wire. Choose a jewelry wire that is around 20-22 gauge and half hard. Since the wire will need to support the weight of the pendant, it’s best to choose a relatively sturdy wire. The length you need will depend on the size of your pendant, but 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) is usually enough.[12]
Snip the wires with the flush side of a wire clipper so that you get nice, clean cuts.
If you’re still practicing with wire wrapping, you may wish to use copper or another base metal rather than a more expensive precious metal wire.
For heavier pendants, consider using thicker wire (e.g., 18 gauge instead of 20) to fully support their weight.
3
Twist the 2 wires together 5 times, starting in the middle. Make an “X” with the 2 wires, making sure they intersect right in the middle of both wires. Pinch the wires where they cross with the index finger and thumb of each hand and give them 5 firm twists, turning your hands in opposite directions.[13]
Make sure that the wires are both twisting and that you are not just wrapping one wire around the other.
4
Pull the wires straight on both sides of the twist. When you’re done twisting, you’ll have an X-shape with a twist in the middle. Pull the wire legs straight and parallel to each other at a roughly 90° angle from the twist to create an “H.”[14]
You can straighten the wires by pulling them between your fingers in the desired direction.
You’ll be repeating this process several times as you make the pendant.
5
Lay the twisted section on one side of your pendant. Choose the side that you wish to be either the front or back of your pendant and lay the twisted part of the wire flat against it. The twist should be oriented straight up and down and positioned roughly halfway between the top and bottom of the pendant.[15]
Once the twist is in place, press the wires down along the surface of the pendant so that they follow the pendant’s shape around to the opposite side.
6
Repeat the twist on the 2 wires at the bottom of the pendant. Take the 2 lower wires and make a second twist on the opposite side of the pendant from the first one. Do 5 turns, straighten the wires, and push the new twist up so it lies flat against the pendant.[16]
The new twist will sit approximately opposite the first one. You should now have a ring in which the bottom of the pendant can securely rest.
7
Continue to make twists until you reach the top of the pendant. Grab one of the pairs of wires above your first 2 twists and make a new twist. Lay it flat against the pendant as you did before. Keep doing this on both sides until the entire pendant is contained, all the way to the top.[17]
Your pendant should now be in a wire “cage” with 4 loose wires at the top.
Adjust the cage as you go so that your pendant fits into it securely. You can do this by occasionally pushing the stone flush against the twists that you have already made and pulling the wires taut.
8
Grab 2 of the wires at the top of the cage and twist them together. Select one of the remaining pairs of wires and give it 5 twists, but this time do not lay the wires flat against your pendant. Instead, leave them sticking straight up.[18]
This is the first step to creating the bail, which is the ring you will use to hang your pendant.
9
Wrap each of the remaining 2 wires around the final twist. Take each of the 2 free wires, one at a time, and wind each one around the vertical twist 5 times or until you reach the top of the twist. When you’re done, snip off the ends with your wire cutters.[19]
Wind these wires slowly and carefully to make a strong, tight coil. If you wish, you can use chain nose pliers for greater control.
It may help to draw the stray end of each wire taut with your pliers before snipping it off. Use the pliers to pinch down any ends that are sticking up after you snip the wires.
10
Wind the top 2 wires around a pencil to create a loop. Straighten out the wires at the top of the twist so they are at a 90° angle to the twist, forming a “T” shape. Place a pencil or other object with a round cross-section (such as the jaw of a pair of round-nose pliers) at the top of the twist and wrap the 2 wires around it in opposite directions to create a nice, round loop.[20]
Make sure the 2 wires of your loop are tightly wrapped and close together.
11
Wind the remaining wire around the twist to secure the bail. Once you’re satisfied with your bail, take the ends of the 2 wires and wrap them 2 or 3 times around the twist. Be sure to make your wraps nice and tight. Remove the pencil when you’re done, and you should have a secure bail for your pendant![21]
When you’re done, snip off the ends of the wires and flatten them down with your chain-nose pliers.
For a fancier look, make a small loop at the end of each wire with the very tip of your round-nose pliers. Use the chain-nose pliers to wind each wire into a spiral, then flatten the spirals against the base of the twist on each side.
Method Four of Four:
Doing a Basic 2-Wire Weave
1
Select some medium wire (16-20 gauge) and fine wire (24-26 gauge). The thicker wire will form the backbone of your weave (the warp), and you will wrap the thinner wire around it.[22] While your thicker wire should ideally be half-hard, dead soft wire is ideal for the woven elements.
Since it takes some practice to get the hang of wire weaving, you may wish to start with copper or some other relatively inexpensive wire.
2
Cut 2 pieces of medium wire to the desired length. The length you’ll need will depend on the project you’re working on. For example, if you’re making a simple woven ring, about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) is a good length.[23]
If you wish, you can use the fine weaving wire while it is still on the roll. Otherwise, cut off a long length (at least 12 inches (30 cm) so that you have plenty to work with.
3
Lay the 2 warp wires parallel to each other on your work surface. You can put them as close together or far apart as you wish, depending on the look you want to achieve.[24] Keep in mind that you will use up more weaving wire to cover any given length if your warp wires are farther apart.
If you wish, you can tape down the ends of your warp wires on one side with masking tape to hold them in place. You could also hold them between your fingers or keep them in place with a ring clamp.[25]
The wires don’t have to be exactly parallel. You can create an interesting effect by angling the 2 warp wires slightly apart or curving one or both of them so that the weave is wider in some places than others.[26]
4
Coil the weaving wire once around the bottom warp wire. Starting close to the end of your weaving wire, lay the wire over the front of the bottom warp and wrap it around once, away from yourself. Take care that you only wrap the bottom wire. Hold the wire taut to make sure you get a tight coil.[27]
Once your coil is complete, the weaving wire should pass back over the front of the warp wire.
Don’t start at the very end of the weaving wire. Try to leave a bit of a tail (around 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm)) so that you can secure the weave when you’re finished.
Depending on what you plan to do with your woven wire, you may wish to start the weave at least .75 inches (1.9 cm) from the ends of the warp wires.
5
Pass the weaving wire under the top warp wire and coil it twice. Draw your weaving wire up so that it passes behind the top warp wire, then wrap it around the top wire 2 times. This time, pull the wire towards you instead of away from you. The weaving wire should end up in front of the top warp wire.[28]
If your coils are not close enough together, you can nudge them down the warp wires with your fingernails. If you use pliers, you may damage your wire.
6
Bring the weaving wire behind the bottom warp wire and coil twice. This time, coil the weaving wire away from you. From here, you will start the pattern over and continue until your weave reaches the desired length.[29]
If you like, you can vary the pattern by doing more coils between each pass. You can even alternate—e.g., doing 2 coils on one side and 4 on the other.
As you get more experienced with 2-wire weaving techniques, you can begin experimenting with weaves that incorporate 3 or more warp wires.
7
Snip off the ends of the warp wire and tuck them in. Once you’ve achieved the length you want, use your wire clippers to cut off the tails of the warp wire. Gently pinch in any sharp edges with your chain nose pliers.[30]
If you like, you can do a couple of extra coils on each end for more security.
8
Incorporate your woven wire into a pendant, bracelet, or ring. Woven wire can make a striking addition to many types of jewelry. Once the wire is woven, you can bend it into the shape of your choice by hand or using pliers.
For example, to make a simple ring, take a short section (about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm)) of woven wire and wrap it around a ring mandrel. Use round-nosed pliers to curl the 4 ends of the warp wires into elegant spirals.[31]
You can also use woven wire to create striking pendants incorporating beads or undrilled stones.[32]
Tips
To learn more advanced wire jewelry techniques, consider taking a class at a local jewelry or crafting store. You can also find a wide variety of wire jewelry classes and tutorials online.
You can use heavy wire (e.g., 14 or 16 gauge) and pliers to make decorative elements, such as hearts or spirals.[33] Add a delicate touch by wrapping a few coils of fine wire (such as 26 gauge) around the thicker elements.
You can also use crochet techniques with wire to make delicate, lacy pieces. For these projects, you will need fine, dead soft wire, standard wire-working tools, and a set of crochet needles.[34]
Some people are allergic to certain metals, so keep this in mind if you are planning to sell your jewelry. Your buyers may need to know if your jewelry contains nickel or other common allergens.
Things You’ll Need
Selecting Your Materials
Wire cutters
Round-nose pliers
Chain-nose pliers
Wires in various colors, materials, gauges, and levels of hardness
Findings (such as ear hooks, clasps, chains, and pins)
Creating Basic Wire Links
20-gauge half-hard wire
Wire cutters
Round-nose pliers
Chain-nose pliers
Beads
Making Simple Wire-Wrapped Pendants
A stone or other object for your pendant
20 to 22-gauge half-hard wire
Wire clippers
Chain-nose pliers
Round-nose pliers
Pencil or other object with a round cross-section
Doing a Basic 2-Wire Weave
16 to 20-gauge half-hard wire
24 to 26-gauge dead soft wire
Masking tape or ring clamp (optional)
Chain-nose pliers
Wire cutters
Round-nose pliers (for shaping the finished weave)
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About This Article
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Co-authors: 7
Updated: September 28, 2019
Views: 1,544
Categories: Featured Articles | Bracelet Projects
Article Summary
References
↑http://academic.emporia.edu/abersusa/go340/wrap.htm
↑https://jewelrytutorialhq.com/all-about-jewelry-wire-which-gauge-wire-to-use-for-what/
↑https://jewelrytutorialhq.com/all-about-jewelry-wire-wire-hardness-explained/
↑https://www.jewelrymaking-beads-library.com/earring-finding.html
↑https://youtu.be/2qjNzvE2-D8?t=69
↑https://youtu.be/2qjNzvE2-D8?t=90
↑https://youtu.be/2qjNzvE2-D8?t=116
↑https://youtu.be/2qjNzvE2-D8?t=158
↑https://youtu.be/2qjNzvE2-D8?t=260
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