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Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Beginner's Guide to Wire Wrapping

Findings are the connective components of a piece, such as clasps, earwires, crimps, jumprings, linklocks and boltrings. Findings can be made from virtually any metal and you will find silver findings, gold findings and copper findings commonly used to enhance a piece of wire wrapped jewelery.

Wire wrapping tends to be confined to smaller-scale production; and as a technique is more often associated with hand crafted pieces. The individual craftsmen and artisans use their skills to create interesting and intricate items combining wire with findings, beads or other adornments.

In its basic form, wire wrapping uses looping to link the components of a piece of jewelery. Loops can vary in complexity from a simple 'O' shape, to 'P' loops and 'eye' loops. By their very nature, these are open loops, meaning they can be opened to accommodate another component of the piece. P loops are a wire loop formed in the shape of the letter P, whereas eye loops are more intricate; a tennis-racket shape is achieved with a full circle of wire centered over the stem of the loop.

Closed or wrapped loops are also used to create more permanent links; the end of the wire is wrapped round the stem of the loop, so that it cannot be opened. This method of looping gives wire wrapping its name. In essence, it describes a method of creating jewelery using mechanical, rather than soldered, links. Open loops, such as P loops and eye loops are commonly found in handmade ear-rings, whereas closed loops are used in necklaces and bracelets, so that the links do not open should the jewelery become snagged or caught.

Most craftsmen and artisans will use three basic tools in their work: a flush cutter, a pair of round-nosed pliers and chain-nose pliers. The flush cutter achieves a cut in the wire that leaves one end flush or flat, so that the sharp or
pointed end that remains can be discarded. Round-nosed pliers have a conical shape that allow easy manipulation of the wire into loops, whereas chain-nose pliers have flat, smooth jaws for gripping and bending wire. As well as these three basic tools, craftsmen are likely to have loop-closing pliers, an anvil, a chasing hammer, step-jaw pliers, nylon-jaw pliers, a cup bur and a good, old-fashioned ruler. Many artisans also employ a jewelery-making jig, which is an open frame that is used to establish a pattern for use in the shaping of wire or sheets of metal.

There are various types of wire available to the craftsman, in different alloys (Silver, Gold), carats (9ct, 18ct), styles, shapes and diameters. With advent of enameled wires the design can even incorporate a variety of vibrant colours. Each type of wire allows the designer to achieve different effects, offer different levels of malleability and build something unique into their designs.

Whether you are a professional jeweler, a student or hobbyist, the quality and cost effectiveness of your materials will always impact on the finished work. For a wide selection of wire and findings, it's worth searching for a company that specialises in supply direct to the jewelery trade - many companies now sell online, so it's worth searching either for "jewelery supplies" or the specific item you are looking for.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of [] Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and []silver wire, jewelery tools, findings, precious metal clay and precious metal sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewelers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
For interviews quotes, images or comments contact:
Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Jewelry Making - What is Annealing?

Annealing is an important part of the jewelry making process, and is basically where metal is heated to make it soft so that it can be manipulated and worked with. You'll require some special tools for jewelry making to manage the process, and in this article we run through just what is involved.

The process will vary depending on the metal that you are working with because each metal has a different melting point. For example, if you are working with copper it has a high melting point, and will require a lot of annealing, whereas if you work with gold it is naturally flexible and may require no annealing at all.

The most common tool used by jewelers in the annealing process is a torch, which can be propane or natural gas. When you use the torch the flame should be held over the metal at the point where the blue and yellow parts of the flame intersect. As the color of the metal changes it becomes more flexible, and by using the correct heat this should take no more than 30 seconds. The temperatures at which metals anneal are:

Copper 1110 degrees,

Silver 1110 degrees

Platinum 1110 degrees

White Gold 1200 degrees

Gold 1200 degrees

If you are using wire metal to make jewelry and you have access to a kiln, then this can be a handy alternative to a torch. But a kiln is not one of the standard []tools for jewelry making, and when you first start out you don't need anything more than a hand held torch.

Danny Oakes hopes you enjoyed this article about a small part of the jewelry making process.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

How to Make a Jewelry Jig - Example, Ear Wire Jig

Jewelry jigs are very easy to make, if you have wood, a saw and a drill. Jigs make duplicating a wire design very easy. I prefer the home made variety jig since the pegs are stationery and do not wobble when bending the wire.

Materials needed:

4"x4"x2"thick piece wood
1/8 x 1" brad nails
1/4" diameter wooden dowel
20 gauge practice wire
1/4" drill bit
wooden or rubber mallet
anvil or pounding block
graph paper
file or burr cup
round nose pliers
flush cutters
sharpie pen

To begin, find a piece of scrap lumber at least 4"x4"x2" thick. A thinner piece of lumber can be used, but the 2" thickness gives more weight and stability to the jig. This size should be large enough to make several jigs on the same wood block.

Draw the design on graph paper with a soft pencil.

Mark with dots the places to put brads or dowels(for large curves) for bending.

Turn the paper over on the wood block and draw over the design. This will make a light tracing. Another method to duplicate the design (if you have a prototype) is to trace around the piece on the wood block.

We are going to make an ear wire jig as an example.

To place the dowel, drill with a 1/4" bit 1/2" into the wood block. Set a drill press to this depth or mark this depth with tape on the drill bit. Cut the dowel piece 1 1/4 -1 1/2 inch in length. Sand or shave off the edges slightly on one end. Insert the shaved end of the dowel into the hole and use the mallet to wedge it tightly into the wood block.

Mark a cross on the top of the dowel to divide it into four equal parts. (Some designs might use a cross marked on the wood block.) At the 3 o'clock position 3/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 1). At the 6 o'clock position 7/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 2). 5/16" below the last dot and in a parallel line adjacent to Position 2, mark with a dot (position 3). Position 3 gives a slight bend in the end of the ear wire. The tops of the brad nails should be filed or ground to make removing articles form the jig easy. Drive the brad nails in 1/4" at each position. For other designs, smaller dowels can be used with matching diameter drill bits.

To conserve expensive wire when making an ear wire or any prototype, mark 20 gauge practice wire with sharpie in 1 inch increments. With round nose pliers make a loop large enough to fit the brad at position 1. Put loop over brad at position 1 with the loop opening toward the dowel, bend around dowel, then bend between dowel and brad at position 2, then bend to position 3. Cut the wire at position 3. Remove ear wire or prototype from jig.

To flatten the ear wire or prototype, place on an anvil or pounding block, hitting it several times with a rubber mallet. This hardens the metal making it brittle. Never pound where wires cross since the wires might break. Smooth the ends of the ear wires with a file or burr cup.

Determine from the sharpie marks the length of wire used. Mark a line the length plus about 1/4" on the wood block. This will facilitate measuring wire for future projects.

Jigs can be made to make ear wires with beads, a variety of shapes or longer tails. With imagination the possibilities for duplicating jewelry designs pieces made by bending wire are endless.

Although the finished jig looks rough, it works very well.

Peggy Barnette, self taught jewelry designer, webmaster Gemstone Bead Jewelry [], blog [], life long participant in various crafting hobbies, designed, produced and coordinated wardrobe for state beauty pageant participant, BS Institutional Management, MS Nutrition

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