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What is wire wrapping?

Let’s talk about wire wrapping. You may have heard the term but may not know what it actually is. Or maybe you saw wire wrapped jewelry, but had no idea about this special technique used in its creation.

Wire wrapping is a way of creating jewelry pieces entirely by hand, and with the use of only wire and some basic tools. In addition to wire, you can use different objects for wrapping, such as gemstones, crystals, other types of beads, little objects that carry a special meaning to the owner, and pretty much anything wrappable (I think I just made up a word).
Usually, torches, soldering and other methods used in silversmithing are not used in wire wrapping. And that is the beauty of it. It is simple yet requires lots of practice and skill. And once you got the skill, the sky is the limit to what you can do with that wire.

Wire wrapping is an ancient jewelry making method that has been around for centuries. You will never find wire wrapped jewelry in department stores as a part of a mass produced line, because no machine or equipment can reproduce what only a skilled and passionate jeweler can create. That is why this kind of jewelry is extremely valuable, one of a kind, and good quality pieces can last for generations if cared for properly.

So, how does it actually work?
First, you need…WIRE, right. Wire comes in different metals (copper, silver, etc.), gauges (thickest to thinnest) and strengths (softest to hardest to manipulate). It can come coiled or spooled.

And it looks something like this…

Spooled silver wire

Spooled silver wire

 

Then you new some basic tools, or some fancy ones if you are taking it to the next level. Your basic set should include at least three kinds of pliers, and you can keeps getting more, and more, and more. I am still dreaming of getting more each time I am placing my next order for wire or gemstones. And I usually do.

Pliers could look like, but not limited to, this…

image

 

It is nice if you have an anvil. You don’t have to, but it is NICE if you do. Some anvils look similar to this one…

Anvil, all nice and shiny

Anvil, all nice and shiny

 

And what goes with anvil? Hammer! Or hammerS. They are just like pliers, the more, the merrier. Hammering wire strengthens and flattens it, or gives it texture. Possibilities are endless, really.

This is just an example of a hammer a jeweler may use…

Jewelry hammer, a girl's best friend. Or was it something else? Hmm...

Jewelry hammer, a girl’s best friend. Or was it something else? Hmm…

 

I can go on and on about all the equipment and tools a wire wrapper may employ in his or her daily creative process, but that will take too much time and space. And being a crazy passionate and obsessive jewelry maker (according to my husband, anyway), my collection of tools and gadgets keeps growing. Wish I could say ‘every day’, but more like every few weeks or so.

Now the fun part. Wrapping itself. It can be as simple or as complicated as the design requires. That IS the fun part. And once you’re finished with wrapping, you can choose to hammer certain parts of your design to give it texture, or just to harden it in certain places to make sure it will withstand the stress of daily use and wear. Then it is time for either oxidizing (making the metal darker) if that was in your design plan, or polishing, or, maybe, tumbling. Tumbling is a process that strengthens and shines the metal even further, making it unbelievably beautiful. I love my tumbler, if that wasn’t obvious yet.

Aha, talking about tumblers, here is what it looks like…

Tumbler is usually used to polish gemstones, and harden and polish jewelry.

Tumbler is usually used to polish gemstones, and harden and polish jewelry.

 

And to finish my visual today, here is a pick at some of wire wrapping designs I got to master so far, to make it easier to understand the whole wrapping idea.

SIMPLER…

Copper gemstone pendant By Shirin Designs

Copper gemstone pendant
By Shirin Designs

 

TRICKY…

Snow Quartz sterling silver earrings By Shirin Designs

Snow Quartz sterling silver earrings
By Shirin Designs

TRICKIER…

image

Tigereye sterling silver herringbone pendant
By Shirin Designs

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL…

Brecciated Jasper sterling silver necklace By Shirin Designs

Brecciated Jasper sterling silver necklace
By Shirin Designs

 

I hope this was informative enough for you to get a basic idea of what wire wrapping is, and why you should feel proud if you are a lucky owner of a wire wrapped piece of jewelry. Because, you know, they all are one of a kind and no two are exactly the same due to the nature of the process and materials used.

I think this is it for today, have a great day ahead and thanks for listening… or reading.

~Shirin

Permanent link to this article: http://shirindesigns.com/wire-wrapping/

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