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Practice wire


#1

Hi everyone,

First off let me say thanks to everybody who responded to my book
question. I really appreciate you taking the time at this busy time
of the year to write.

Went to the book store yesterday and I bought Mark Lareau’s book
"All Wired Up". It got a good recommendation from Tim McCreight. It
is a very simple and easy to understand book. Great for those who
want to dip their toe into jewelry making. I like it better than
other wire jewelry books I saw because it teaches you techniques
rather than just giving you instructions on how to make several
pieces of jewelry. Instead, he shows you how to make your own loops,
wrapped loops, head pins, findings, ear wires, clasps and cages etc.

After I finish the projects in the Lareau book I’m going to tackle
St. Timothy’s book - “The Complete Metalsmith”. (I laughed out loud
when I read that the Untract book was the “Old Testament” and the
McCreight book was the “New Testament”. My tennant who lives next
door must think I’m going mad!)

Anyways, my question is: What kind of cheap wire would you use to
practice on? Would copper wire from the hardware store be ok? I
would like something that acts like 1/2 hard sterling silver since
that is what I will work with when I get good enough.

Thanks again everybody.

Sincerely,
Dan, DanielBe Jewelry


#2

Dan,

        Went to the book store yesterday and I bought Mark
Lareau's book "All Wired Up". It got a good recommendation from Tim
McCreight. It ... 

Excellent choice, for all the reasons you cite.

    Anyways, my question is: What kind of cheap wire would you use
to practice on? Would copper wire from the hardware store be ok? I
would like something that acts like 1/2 hard sterling silver since
that is what I will work with when I get good enough.

Copper wire will be fine. I’d advise getting several guages of solid
wire, maximum 16ga. Fatter than that, and you’re going to be working
way too hard. If the wire gets too hard, anneal it, because you can
always work-harden it later.

I use a lot of pure silver, though I have some Sterling on hand for
people who want it. I don’t think it’s all that expensive, and
practice pieces that come out all right are already made of material
that people regard as “jewelry”, and so it could be sellable from the
outset. I’d say to make the move from copper to silver as soon as
you get a piece that you like, in other words, if not before.

Loren http://www.golden-knots.com/


#3

Hi Dan,

What kind of cheap wire would you use to practice on? Would copper
wire from the hardware store be ok? I would like something that
acts like 1/2 hard sterling silver since that is what I will work
with when I get good enough.

The copper wire from the hardware store will work for practicing on.

If you want to harden it so it resists changing shapes that’s an
easy task. To harden copper wire (any wire for that matter), clamp
1 end in a vise or twist around a nail driven in a sturdy support.
Clamp a cup hook, or a hook you fashion yourself, in the chuck of an
electric drill. Form a loop in the other end of the wire & place it
over the hook. Draw the wire taut with the drill & run the drill.
Thw twisting action of the drill will ‘work harden’ the wire. The
amount of hardness is dependent on how long the drill is run. A
little experience will help in determining when to stop. Any length
of wire can be hardened this way. However, if you’re only going to
do a foot onr less, you may want to replace the drill with a pin
vise.

While wire in shapes other than round can be hardened this way, the
finished product will no longer be the orignal shape.

Dave


#4

Dan,

If you do start to practice with copper, be absolutely sure you get
100% copper, non-coated wire. If it’s marked "copper craft wire"
stay away from it. The reason being the craft wire seems to come
with some type of invisible coating (you can’t feel it) that prevents
tarnishing … when you start to anneal it or touch it with a torch,
it catches fire and burns with some nasty smoke and smell (yes, I got
a batch of it a while back - personal experience).

Having said that, keep in mind that silver wire is really quite
cheap these days. With silver remaining under $5.00/ounce, you
should think about working with it pretty quickly. Keep any scraps
you generate and think about how you can use them in your work
(sometimes they will be great sources of ideas), or toss them into a
baggie until you have enough to warrant a mailing to a refiner. I
think you’ll be surprised at how affordable it is.

One other thing … if you’re doing wire wrapping, consider working
with Sterling wire for your main “armature” due to its increased
hardness and ability to be work hardened more thoroughly than fine
silver. You wouldn’t want a customer to lose a stone!

Have fun and good luck!

Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


#5
     Anyways, my question is: What kind of cheap wire would you
use to practice on? Would copper wire from the hardware store be
ok? I would like something that acts like 1/2 hard sterling silver
since that is what I will work with when I get good enough. 

Yes, copper is fine to practice with, but you should also bite the
bullet and work with some sterling wire as well. Each metal has a
slightly different “feel” to it, and should be experienced to
understand that. Gold filled wire, for instance, is much more
finnicky , and real gold wire (22k) is wonderful, but can be tricky
if taken to thin. In short, there are things that can be done in
sterling that will give you the mastery you are looking for faster
and better than other metals. I occasionally use half hard wire,
usually for earring wires, but other than that , sterling is just
fine. Having said all this, I look forward to hearing everyone
else’s opinion! Courtenay