Jewelry Techniques: Wire Wrapping

Jewelry Techniques Blog KBeau

These days it is dangerously hot here in Texas. I love me some overcast, drizzly days, so this weather tends to make me miserable. I solder in my garage. The thought of donning my respirator and protective goggles while hovering around an open flame makes me tear up a bit.

I’ve been making jewelry for many years and I find that as my circumstances change, my techniques change. When my son was an infant and toddler I rarely soldered because of the long stretches of time it took. I couldn’t keep him in the garage with me while I soldered because of the fumes, so I pivoted (before that became a thing), and learned how to rivet.

This month I’ve been doing some ruthless purging of clutter. As I looked at my workspace today I decided that I’d been dancing around what to make because of the heat. I decided to embrace my wire wrapping skills. It’s the perfect way for me to use all these gorgeous and interesting stones I have had for ages while keeping out of the sweltering garage. It was so satisfying to complete a pair of earrings. Rather than bemoaning the fact that I live on the freakin’ sun (see, so positive!), I looked at the obstacle, and instead of overcoming it I went another direction. If you let it, a little adversity makes you creative, leads you elsewhere, and beautiful things can happen.

What the heck is wire wrapping?
This is one of the oldest techniques for making jewelry.  The key component to wire wrapped jewelry is a loop made in a piece of wire. A loop can be something as simple as bending the end of a piece of wire around round nose pliers until the very end of the wire is bent far enough that it touches the wire itself. You can go a step further and wrap that wire around itself rather than cut it off where it touches the wire, then you have a closed loop. The loop is permanent and can’t be opened. A closed loop is also called a wrapped loop hence the name wire wrapped jewelry.

The loops are connected to one another to make the mechanical connections between components or you can connect the loops with a jump ring (which is a looped wire really!).     
The basic tools used for this are flush cutters, round nose pliers (essential for getting that loop!), chain nose pliers, and flat nose pliers.

Wire wrapping can get intricate and complex. There are many types of wire that come in different gauges and shapes. The wire can be used to set a stone or wrapped around other wire to create beautiful and interesting shapes and patterns. Toss in some pearls or gems and you have even more creative possibilities!

I will soak up the cool AC while I wire wrap and make plans for what I can solder in the Fall.