Basic Wire Wrapping Techniques

Learn basic wire wrapping techniques with this Howcast video about how to make jewelry.

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Jewelry is expensive! Put your creativity to work and save tons of money by learning how to make your own earrings, bracelets and necklaces with these Howcast tutorials. You'll learn stringing, knotting, and wire-wrapping techniques; how to work with leather and cord; and even some simple metalsmithing. The step-by-step instructions make it easy to start designing and crafting your own jewelry line today.

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Hi, I’m Tam and I'm going to show you how to wire wrap. This is a very popular technique. This is one of our popular workshops at our store. Everybody sort of likes to do this because it's very low tool usage and you can do a lot of things with this technique. So this is not like a super commercial technique but it's an ancient technique because if you go to the mat you'll find a lot of the old jewelry is made exactly like this. So basically we are going to use wire. Usually for practice I use this copper wire that's gold plated or silver plated and then as you get better at the skill you can change it and use gold wire, real gold wire or silver wire and you'll have more of a fine jewelry. So then the tools you'll need will be a round nose pliers. I like to use a smaller round nose because these come in different sizes. So for our projects here, because we're using smaller beads, I'm using a small wire round nose pliers. The other important tool you need is a very pointy flat nose. So this is very, very pointy and it's very, very thin. So you're going to need this very fine point for the wire to grab it. You're going to need very good snippers and that's basically it. So these are the things that you can make with this technique. Basically we're making links from wire and then with that basic component we can link things together and add beads. And then this is also another sample. So this is like a store bought chain, it's a manufactured chain and then you can just add stones to it as you like. You can also add dangles. So instead of horizontally linking you can vertically link and build vertically with this technique. This is also with the chain, with the earrings and we just hang the dangles off of the chain to create these earrings. This is another chain that we just dangle the pearls off of, or this bracelet. These are just some of the projects that we have at our store. Another thing you can do is make links so you can actually physically make a link bracelet that's all metal. This one I made from heavier silver wire and I made the links and I linked them all together and added the pearls. Now I'm going to show you how to make the basic component of this technique. You're going to choose the wire once again that fits your bead if you're going to use beads. Or if you want to use, make a link bracelet or something you might want to use something heavier. In wire the diameter of the wire is measured in gauges. The higher the number is the finer the gauge, the thinner the metal is. So for example this is an 18 gauge and it's thicker and I'm going to use a 24 gauge and its thinner. For this size bead, I'll just put a few out here, I would probably do like just a one and a half inch piece of wire. Normally I just cut like a bunch of, sort of start an assembly line so I just cut a bunch of pre-cut pieces. Then I'm going to make my round nose pliers and I'm going to hold it about a third of the way down. And metal wire has memory. So what I want to achieve is a round loop, so in order to do that I'm going to bend the metal, the wire in both directions before I get the loop. So that means I'm going to do this. I'm going to push it against the round nose pliers of where about approximately the size of the loop I want to make, which is there. And then I'm going to push it the other way and bring it all the way around. Then I'm going to switch hands because I'm right-handed and I’m going to hold the little loop with my round nose pliers in the left hand and take my pointy pliers and now I'm just going to make a coil and wrap it around. So basically that's what you're doing but you're going to make it much neater as you go along. So that's the three steps, cutting the wire, making the first loop, and then coiling around. I also wanted to show you this other type of bead. It's not round and this is called a briolette cut. So basically it looks like this, basically it's like a teardrop. So I'm going to add it onto the chain that we're building. This is another nice element because it reflects light in a different way so it just kind of moves differently. And then on the briolette I'm going to, instead of making it really, really tight, and fixed at the coil, I'd like to give the briolettes a little room to sort of move just because then it looks really nice and it just kind of makes it more, your piece more interesting. I'm not going to coil all the way against the bead like I would on the round beads. I'm just going to do it to about there and leave a little space for it to sort of move back and forth, like that. And I'm gonna just push the coil away from the bead to give it just a little bit more room. And then here I'll snip so that you can sort of get the full idea. See the loop all kind of crazy? I'm just going to straighten it with my pliers. Now it's a little bit neater and then you want to just get in really, really tight with your straight edge on the inside and then you're just going to make a clean snip and then if you have a little bit of a tear you can just close that with the pliers. So then it looks like that.

Expert

  • Tam Tran

    Tam Tran, a designer and metalsmith, uses ancient jewelry techniques to create work influenced by ancient history, tribal cultures, and exploration of raw materials. After a career as a design director in the fashion industry, Tran pursued her interest in becoming an artisan and trained as a goldsmith at the Jewelry Arts Institute, where she learned classical jewelry-making techniques. Her interactive studio/shop in downtown New York, Lost Wax Studio, showcases her limited production hand-fabricated jewelry and offers jewelry workshops. She also leads workshops at institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Art+Design in NYC.