Free Tutorials on Making Wire Jewelry

Beth Asaff
Three pieces of wire jewelry

If you've tried your hand at making beaded jewelry, then you've probably already worked with wire to some degree. In addition to its function as a material for stringing beads, wire can also become an artistic part of the jewelry making process itself.

Working With Wire

There are many different kinds of wire available for making jewelry with. Each one has its own characteristics and lends itself toward certain types of work.

German Style Wire

German style wire is one of the easiest to use for wire wrapping, stringing beads and creating art jewelry pieces. It comes in several colors and thicknesses, and is typically plated with a non-tarnish finish such as silver. The core is usually copper and it bends easily, holding its shape well.

Artistic Wire

Artistic wire is a heavier wire with color that goes straight through, or with a powder coating. It bends easily, but is better for heavier, chunkier pieces of work, or for making chain maille jewelry. It can be found in nearly every color of the rainbow, including traditional metal tones.

Memory Wire

Memory wire is a thin wire that does not bend easily. Once bent, it is difficult to unbend and holds it shape extremely well. It works really well in bracelets - especially coil bracelets - and can be used for wrapping over a large bead or other piece of metal, because it doesn't shift once it's placed. You will need pliers and some degree of strength to shape it.

Wire Gauges

The gauge of the wire is its thickness. The heavier and thicker the wire the lower the gauge, while the thinner and lighter the wire the higher the gauge. For example, 18-gauge wire is very chunky and thick and bends only under pressure, while 24-gauge wire is thin, delicate and can be easily bent or even snapped between the fingers. All types of wire come in multiple gauges. Some heavy gauge wires will not fit through smaller beads or bend easily, while lighter wires may not have the strength to hold a design; adjust your wire use accordingly.

Making a Wire Ring

Wire ring

Wire can be used to both wrap your finger, and wrap a large, chunky stone to make a funky and dramatic cocktail ring.

Materials

  • 18-gauge wire
  • 24-gauge wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Ring sizer
  • 1-inch bead

Instructions

  1. Wrap a piece of 18-gauge wire around a ring sizer in the wearer's size, approximately 4 or 5 times, stopping when the two ends of the wire meet at the top. Set aside.
  2. Thread a piece of 24-gauge wire through the bead and bend the end into a small loop to keep it from slipping through the bead.
  3. Take the other end of the wire and wrap it around the edge of the bead, feeding it through the loop at the other end of the bead to keep it in place. Continue wrapping the bead until a 1/4-inch thickness of wire has been achieved on all sides.
  4. Cut a piece of 24-gauge wire and wrap one end of it around the bottom few loops of wire surrounding the bead on one side, leaving a long end of wire trailing down. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Wrap the loose end of the wire coming from one side of the bead around the ring base. Make a tight coil with the wire until all excess wire is used. Repeat on the other side.
    Wrapping the ring base
  6. Tuck in any loose ends of the wire to prevent them from catching on the wearer.

Making a Wrapped Circle Pendant

Wire wrapped pendant

This pendant can be made with any size or style of bead. Keep in mind that the smaller the bead, the more difficult it may be to wrap it in the wire.

Materials

  • 18-gauge wire
  • 24-gauge wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Several beads - number will vary based on size of beads
  • Jump ring

Instructions

  1. Cut a piece of 18-gauge wire to about 2-inches in size. Twist one end of the wire into a small loop to keep the beads in place.
  2. Thread the beads onto the wire, leaving about 1/4-inch of wire left at the end.
  3. Feed the excess wire through the loop to form a circle and wrap the excess wire around the top of the ring to secure.
    Circle of beads
  4. Cut a piece of 24-gauge wire to approximately 18-inches long. Twist one end of the wire between two beads on the circle to secure.
  5. Begin weaving the wire over a bead, then between two and over the next bead until you finish the circle. Reverse direction and repeat.
  6. Using your thumbnails, push the wire across each bead, stretching it so that the two wires on each bead don't line up exactly.
  7. Thread a jump ring through some of the excess wire wound between the beads and hang from a chain.

Making a Wire Caged Pendant

Wire pendant

This simple pendant works best when using two different beads; play around with using different sizes, colors and textures to personalize the piece.

Materials

  • 18-gauge wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Several beads - number will vary based on size of beads
  • Jump ring

Instructions

  1. Cut a piece of wire to approximately 5-inches in length.
  2. Bend the wire into the shape of a rectangle that is 2-inches long and 5/8-inch wide. Use the pliers to bend the corners to 90 degrees. Wrap the two ends of the wire together to form a "stem" at the top.
    Wire box
  3. Cut a second piece of wire to approximately 5-inches in length.
  4. Thread as many beads onto it as will fit inside the wire box lengthwise. Alternate colors of the beads as you go.
  5. Push the beads to the center of the wire they are on so you have equal amounts of excess wire on either end.
  6. Wrap the excess wire around the top and bottom of the rectangle, coiling it up around the top and base.
  7. Attach a jump ring to the stem and thread onto a chain.

Tips for Working With Wire

Wire is one of the easiest materials to work with once you get started. It can be used to thread beads or bent into nearly any shape you can imagine. To get started, follow these tips for success.

  • Use multiple sets of pliers. Pliers come with many tips; you may find that one tip works better for you than another, depending on what you are doing to the wire at the moment.
  • Work gently with thin gauge wires. The thinner gauged wires can become brittle and snap if they are bent too frequently. Don't continuously move a wire once it has been bent into place to avoid it breaking.
  • Be gentle with the finish. If you work with plated wire, take care not to strip the finish off. This can happen easily if your pull the pliers along the wire too many times.
  • Use various objects to wrap the wire around. To get a good coil, try wrapping your wire around screws, pens, spools of thread or anything of the appropriate size. Once bent it will hold its shape, and a form makes it easier to bend the wire than if you merely use the pliers.

Create Your Own

Just by changing the gauge, color and style of the wire, as well as the beads you use it with, you can easily make your own, unique jewelry pieces. Use these tutorials as a starting point and begin making your own wire jewelry today.

Free Tutorials on Making Wire Jewelry