Post by rockjunquie on Jan 23, 2022 19:16:51 GMT -5
I remember it being confusing which wire to get when I began. And when I began there were fewer types of wire wrapping to worry about, too. This is an effort to make it easier to choose.
One of the easiest and most versatile to use, raw, or pure, copper has the added benefit of being able to take an antiqued patina by using a solution of liver of sulfur and water. But, that is another subject.
Copper is available in all the common sizes or gauges, as it is called.
Some people swear by the health benefits of wearing copper.
Many people ask about it turning green or leaving dark marks on your skin. All jewelry requires maintenance and proper storage, including copper. It can be polished with a polish cloth like Sunshine Cloth which has tarnish inhibitors. Some people, like myself, store pieces in plastic bags with an anti tarnish tab. If it has a patina, then the green tarnish takes a considerably long time to develop. I have copper jewelry over 20 years old that has not turned green. Yes, it will discolor your skin if you wear a copper ring or bracelet, but pendants and earrings should be fine. Most people can't wear copper earwires as they are too irritating. Rio Grande sells niobium earwires that are hypo allergenic and antiqued colored.
One of the biggest benefits of using copper is that it is far less expensive than other metals. That makes it a good choice to learn with. I like to work out difficult designs and techniques with it before moving on to sterling silver or 14k gold filled wire.
There are many brands of coated copper wire. Parawire and Artistic Wire are two of the top ones.
They come in many colors and gauges. It is inexpensive and the work characteristics are much like raw copper. (It is generally sold as half hard- more on that later.)
The biggest drawback is that the color coating is very easy to nick off with your tools and with wear.
The cut ends can turn green with time.
It isn't what you might call an heirloom material.
Sterling silver is probably the most popular wire wrapping wire.
It is sold by the troy ounce and fabrication cost, so it is considerably more expensive than copper and coated copper.
There are many types of wire and gauges available in sterling silver.
The work-ability is very good.
Because of the cost, it is not generally used to learn with.
Sterling can also be given a beautiful antique finish.
Sterling has to be stored correctly, like copper, or it will tarnish as well. A patina (antique finish) will slow down the oxidation that causes tarnish.
Gold filled wire is probably the 3rd most popular wire and is also sold by the troy ounce and fabrication cost.
GF can be 14k or 12k.
Unlike electroplated gold, gold fill is a comparatively heavy sheet of gold wrapped (or rolled, hence the alternative name of "rolled gold") under high pressure which bonds it to a base of jeweler's brass.
The working characteristics are very good.
Gold fill is considered an heirloom material and can last generations if well cared for.
GF, like all gold products, is very slow to tarnish.
Care needs to be taken not to mar or nick the wire too badly, thereby exposing the base wire.
Silver filled is a less expensive alternative to solid sterling silver wire. It is a lot like gold filled with great working characteristics.
Sometimes you can find bronze wire. It is a beautiful wire similar to copper. It is easy to work and can take a patina. It is relatively inexpensive, if you can find it.
Gauges, Hardness and Shape:
Wire is sold by the gauge. Simply put- gauge is the size of the roundness of it. There are a few standard gauges to use, but a lot will depend on which type of wire wrapping you want to do.
Briefly- traditional border wrapping requires a stiffer wire, weaving, coiling and sculpting require softer & finer gauges.
For border wrapping you want to start with 20g and 22g. ("g" denotes gauge) And, to introduce another aspect of wire, the shape, you will want some half round, too. Typically half round is also half hard. HH HR (half hard/half round) is used for binding your wires together. You can also incorporate square wire or use square exclusively. The sizes most often used are 20g, 22g and for HH HR you will want 21g and/or 22g. You can use either soft or, preferably, half hard wire (HH). But, as a beginner, 20 round and square HH and 22 round and square HH along with 21 HH HR will get you started. Soft square wire can be twisted to produce a pretty fancy wire similar to a bead wire. After being twisted, it will be work hardened to half hard.
For weaving and coiling you will need finer round soft wire- 24g, 26g and 28 gauge. This is in addition to the wires mentioned above. (You notice that the finer the wire, the higher the gauge number.)
For sculpting wire, you will want 20g and 22g soft round and soft square wire.
There is nothing in wire wrapping that is written in stone. You will find, as you become more proficient, that you will want to try new wires or new combinations. There are 1000s of ways to use all the combinations of wires. You can mix your metals, too. You can try wires not generally sold for wire wrapping but for silver smithing.
Hopefully, this helped you decide what to get.
Any and all input welcome.
hummingbirdstones , Robin, did I forget anything?