There's a saying that all that glitters is not gold, and it's certainly true in the case of sterling silver, which can dazzle just as brightly. Sterling silver jewellery is eye-catching, elegant and sparkling, and easy to work with as well. The technique of wire-wrapping with sterling silver wire enables almost anyone to create beautiful jewellery creations from earrings, to rings, necklaces or bracelets.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Flat-nosed pliers
- Round-nosed pliers
- Cutting pliers
- Wire file
- Sterling silver beading wire (22 gauge, 20 gauge)
- Sterling silver earwires
- Sterling silver 2mm beads
- Sterling silver headpins
String a tiny 2mm silver bead onto a sterling silver headpin to begin a basic piece of sterling silver wire jewellery. Learn wire-wrapping technique by starting off with pre-made headpins.
Add a silver daisy bead, followed by the main focal bead of the piece, whether a pearl, crystal, glass-blown bead, or other semi-precious gem. String a daisy bead and 2mm silver bead to finish the beading.
Grasp the wire above the top bead with your round-nose pliers. With the wire about 1/2 inch from the tip of the pliers, bend the wire over the bottom side of the pliers at a right angle.
Readjust the pliers so one side of the jaws is above the bend and the other below. Slide the wire so it is 1/8 inch from their tip and bend it over the top of the pliers. Move the round-nose pliers to your non-dominant hand and adjust the wire so the bottom part is up against the inside elbow of the bend and the other jaw or nose is on top of the wire.
Pick up the flat-nose pliers in your other hand. While holding the round-nose pliers in place, grab the end of the wire with the flat-nose pliers and pull it around the bottom nose of the round-nose pliers to form a loop. Tightly wrap the remaining wire around the wire below the loop. If you wrap correctly, the wraps will wrap in two or three tight rounds (much like the top layers of a hangman's noose) that meet the very top of the topmost bead.
Trim excess wire with wire cutting pliers close to the wrap. Make sure all your wire wraps are even and side-by-side in appearance--a good wire wrapped piece is topped by wraps that look like parallel lines. There should be no overlapping, crossed, or visibly bent wires. Squeeze the wrap carefully with your pliers so that the wire is hardened and secure
Repeat the process to create a second beaded sterling silver wire loop element. Finish your pieces using your file or even a piece of sandpaper so there are no sharp edges on any pieces or components.
Slip each beaded loop onto an earring wire to complete your silver wire jewellery piece. This basic approach is the foundation for almost all wire-wrapped projects. By creating wrapped loops at each end, you can create links of sterling silver wire for bracelets, necklaces or more complex earrings.
Practice your wire-wrapping technique with half-hard sterling silver wire until your wraps are tight and clean and you're at ease with the basic tools. Use smaller gauge wires (the higher the number, the smaller the wire) and headpins for items like pearls, which traditionally have very small, fine holes for stringing.
Tips and warnings
- Learn additional wire techniques for your sterling silver jewellery-making as you gain confidence. With a wire jig, you can make loops, swirls, and patterns for chandelier earrings, for instance.
- Create your own jump rings, earwires, head pins, end pins, and bead caps simply using sterling silver wire and pliers.
- Store your sterling silver components and creations in airtight containers, along with anti-tarnish paper to keep them bright and glittering.
- Wear goggles when snipping wires to be safe, and make sure all wire snips are picked up and discarded, since they can be hazards to both pets and small children.
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