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A Different Way To Start Making Wire Jewelry

Updated on July 11, 2012

Make Wire Beads

Learn How To Make These Gorgeous Wire Beads
Learn How To Make These Gorgeous Wire Beads | Source

A Different Way To Start Making Wire Jewelry

If you've ever wanted to start wire jewelry making, there is a different way than starting with the traditional beads and wire method. As a metalsmith, I tend to envision a piece of jewelry as a whole rather than a series of elements assembled together. Having said that, teaching myself to work with wire in the following way came as a considerable surprise to me. It also forced me to look at making wire jewelry in a completely new way.

When I took my first metal jewelry class, I was especially drawn to wirework.The only thing I could do at that time was crochet. So I crocheted wire but I wanted to do, learn and create more. Wire wrapping wasn't around then and I really wasn't experienced enough to try some of the wire weaving techniques I’d seen. I really wanted to create my own techniques and see what I could come up with that was my own and original. After failing miserably with other people's wire jewelry making instructions, this is the easy method I taught myself to start making wire jewelry.


I went to the hardware store and bought several different types of wire in different gauges (sizes or thicknesses). I got brass, copper and aluminum picture framing wire. Then I made a quick trip to the local hobby shop where I bought a few sizes of hollow brass dowels in small, medium and large. I just started playing with wire and hollow brass dowels (lightweight and I knew the wire would slide off them easily). I took different types of wire in different gauges (thicknesses) and just started winding the wires on the dowels.

The very first challenge was to get my hands to wind the wire on the dowel into a straight and tight coil. I experimented this way with several different wire types and gauges until I felt familiar with how each wire “worked”, how flexible it was. Next, I started trying the different types of wire on the different size brass dowels to see how they performed differently. I tried each wire type and gauge on small, medium and large sized dowels and then I made each wire coil one inch long on the dowel. Very surprising results indeed!

By only using three variables, the different wire types, the different wire gauges and the different sized dowels, I’d created a wonderful array of actually, simple wire beads! All I had to do was curl the ends of the wires into small loops and poke them inside the coils to finish them all off.

I was on my way! I then started assembling all the little wire beads into attractive groupings to make wire jewelry. I began twisting different wires together and then winding these twisted wires around the dowels for texture and to add variety to my beads. After that, I used oxidants (these are liquids from jewelry supply houses) to darken some of the beads for more variety.

Just adding those two additional variables, the twisted wire and the oxidants, I now had five different variables that I could use to make a very wide variety of simple wire beads.

My first attempt at making wire jewelry with these beads was a pair of earrings with two identical beads. I got a set of head pins (these are long straight wires with a little “head” at the bottom), put a glass bead on the head pin, then added my wire bead, and lastly, another glass bead. Finally, I curled the top end of the headpin over a manufactured ear wire to finish my first earring.


As a result of performing these experiments in wire jewelry making, I taught myself a lot about wire for jewelry making in a fast and simple way. I learned which wires worked best on which dowels and using just those five variables, I’d given myself endless options for making my own simple wire beads and jewelry.

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