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Dear Orchidians,

I have designed a piece that is formed by bending and shaping 12
gauge wire. I’d like to reproduce this darn thing in quantity but
bending the12 gauge wire is a bit difficult and tricky. When I sit
down to create these, I can get into a groove and whip them out easily
enough but it takes me awhile to find the groove, and I’d really
rather not! I’m currently using copper and sterling silver and I’d
also like to use brass, but I doubt I could bend the brass by hand,
some of the curves are quite tight; I tried with nickel silver and it
was a no go. I’ve tried thinner wire and just going down to 14 gauge
makes it much easier, but I really like the look of the chunkier

Any idea on how I could get these made for me?



We might be able to cast them, but would have to see them in order to
know for sure.

Tammi Johnson

Christine, Are you annealing? Have you considered making a template
for yourself? Teresa

Yes, Teresa, I am annealing the wire. The nickel silver is still just
too stiff, and brass, in my general experience is brittle. I haven’t
actually tried the brass but was feeling very pessimistic after trying
– and failing – with the nickel silver. You asked if I had used a
template; what do you mean by a template? When I first started doing
these, I tried using a jig made from nails and wood, but was
unsuccessful at that; it seems to me that the bends are too tight and
the wire too thick. However, it’s possible that I didn’t give the jig
enough of a chance; I could’ve given up too soon in frustration; I’ll
try that route again.

Christine in Littleton

Christine, I do mean jig/template. How tight a curve are you making? I
am not familiar with working nickel silver. I am sure someone online
can give you better advice on that. Would the different methods of cool
down have an effect? How long is the piece of wire?



Why don’t you make your piece in 3D onto computer, output it on a
rapid prototype machine, make a mold out of it then cast as many
pieces as you want. If shaping a thick wire is difficult, with 3D
design you don’t have this problem. You said you needed to reproduce
your model in quantity: great, make your design in 3D, be sure it’s
exactly like you want it, shapes, curves, volume… ( you can easily
make changes to get it right, the way you want it) plan how you’re
going to assemble the parts, plan carefully to make the after-cast job
easy and smooth. Depending on the quantity you need, you may find
yourself with a cost per piece less than expected.

Fady Sawaya
3D jewelry designer

Christine, you may be quenching your nickel silver instead of air
cooling it. As I understand it, nickel silver is a brass and brasses
will be more malleable if air cooled. You could also remove some
metal from the inside of the curves with files and then fold the sides
together if you need sharp curves. This might be faster than trying
to bend the metal into your shapes.

Marilyn Smith

Hi Teresa,

I’ve ditched the idea of using nickel silver if I’m forming these
puppies by hand, so the question is moot. I can use sterling silver
instead and price accordingly. These are intended to be inexpensive,
“fun” shapes, not fine jewelry – the silver ones will still be
reasonable, and the silver looks very nice. The wire’s 12 inches
long, some of the curves almost touch and some do; just to give you an
idea, the design is a modified hand shape, with the curves outlining

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts, USA, where the sun’s shining,
the sky is blue, and the breezes are cool.


There’s no reason why I wouldn’t, if it’s the most cost effective way
to reproduce my design.

I had a look at your very nice website and see that you have a
special free offer. Based on size of the finished piece, I do not
qualify, because my design is 5.5 x 6 cm. However, since I need no
help on the design, might I still qualify? Please advise. I can send
you a digital photo. If you decide I qualify for your free offer, what
is the usual cost? I imagine that I would most often have my own

Another question: How do I find a Sanders service bureau? I visited
their website as well, by following your link, and I’ll fill out their
question asking form.

Christine, With all the TLC and advice on this forum, I knew you would
find a way.


In response to your query, M2 Systems is a service bureau for Sanders
wax models. You can e mail stl files directly to us for output, call
in requests to additional models or modifications. We are currently
preparing a package offering Rhinoceros 3d modeling software,
installation, training, and two models for $2000. Thoughts anyone? Its
still in the preliminary stages and I am interested in everyone’s

Did anyone attend the FIT seminar last night on digital technology
and jewelry?

Pam Zellers

M2 Systems
14 Finance Drive
Danbury, CT 06810