Wire Jewelry: What's the Best Forming Tool
Brass Dowels as Forming Tools
Beyond the usual in wire jewelry making
Everyone who makes wire jewelry knows about the hand tools that are most commonly used in this handcraft: wire cutters, chain nose pliers round nose pliers, etc. But few wire jewelry designers seem to rely on other forming tools.
What I mean about "forming tool"
So, what do I mean when I refer to wire jewelry forming tools? I mean additional tools that help you to make the wire go in directions that you want. The easiest example that I can give is in rounding wire. Say you really want to have you wire in maybe a wire bracelet round out or go convex or concave. How do you do that with consistency? Say you want to know how to make bracelets and you've decided to use an oval wire frame and then wire wrap around the top and bottom of the frames. And now you want all the wire in the center of that frame to bow out instead of just laying flat. If you're a wire jewelry maker, you know how tough it it to get all those wires looking all the same. So how do you do it?
Wire "Jigs" as Wire Forming Tools
Well, this is where forming tools enter the picture. Probably the most commonly known forming tools is called a "jig" which is used to make repetitive shapes in wire jewelry. A lot of you who are reading this are likely familiar with the popular WigJig that came out so many years ago. An excellent forming tool, the WigJig came in several variations (still does I believe) and used a translucent square base with lots of tiny holes in it. Along with that jig came several metal plugs that you could place in the holes of the base to create an infinite variety of designs. You just wrapped the wire around those metal plugs to create multiple repetitive shapes in your wire. Quite clever actually.
The handmade version of jigs for making other repetitve wire shapes was typically made of wood with nails hammered in shape or in some kind of a pattern. Excellent way to do it yourself.
Again, jigs are likely the most easily understood forming tool for wire jewelry. But are there any other options for making identical, repetitive shapes for wire jewelry making?
You'll see a photo of several brass dowels above and frankly along with a few other things, they're the best forming tool you can use if you make wire jewelry. Need a graceful bend in your wire? Use an appropriately sized hollow brass dowel. Need to make a circle on the end of your wire necklace? Use a small brass dowel. Need to make a long, graceful curve in your wire? Use a brass dowel. Have a long length of wire you need straightened out quickly? You guessed it: use a brass dowel.
Those are only a very few of the many uses I can think of for using brass dowels in your wire jewelry making. The list goes on and on but seriously, consider using these little babies, keep them handy at all times like you do your tools for jewelry making and I think you'll be surprised at how many uses you find for them.
Other Wire Forming Tools
Once you get used to using forming tools, you may find your work going more smoothly. What's that saying about using the right tool for the right job?
You might also start meandering hardware and kitchen supply stores to look for other kinds of wire forming tools. One of the things I like to use is popsicle sticks in different sizes for example. Or let's say that you want to shape a neckring. Why not use a kitchen canister as a good tool for that?
Use your imaginations and I think you'll be surprised at what you can come up with.