Daily Wire Tip March 18: Caring For Your Hands

By on March 18, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
March 18, 2010


How do I take care of my hands as I work with wire?  I seem to end up with something that looks like mechanic hands at the end of a day with tarnish marks and the beginnings of calluses.  Is there an easy way to take the tarnish off my hands?  How do I keep my hands looking nice at the points where calluses seem to want to form (the tips of my first fingers and thumbs)?


Thanks for the smile Danette. Unfortunately the only easy way I have found to Not get too much tarnish on my hands is Not to use hand cream! But light tarnish removes easily with regular soap and water (for bad I use Lava). When the calluses on my fingers crack and bleed, I grit my teeth while filling them with Super Glue (the only reason glue is in my studio!) so they heal from the inside out. In the winter, I sometimes coat my hands with a foot-heel cream and wear gloves to bed. In my opinion, calluses are wonderful things that allow me to work for hours without pain and tarnish is a ‘mark of the trade’. (Now, if I only had time to play the guitar, my fingers are ready!)

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 8:18 am

    …the calluses on your fingers and thumbs are your badge of accomplishment. Those of us who work seriously in wire all have them. In my case I even have an extra calluse on a finger on my right hand from working long hours at my other art form. It comes with the territory.
    The tarnish cleans off quickly. If you are working at a show with your wire and need to do a quick hand cleaning, then keep a small box of pre-moistened baby wipes or similiar product with you to give your hands a quick clean-up.

  2. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

    If you are doing wire jewelry as a hobby and really want to maintain soft hands, I would suggest consulting with a professional manicurist for skin care suggestions and possibly find a balance between callus-free hands and your wire jewelry hobby.
    If you’re going to be working with a LOT of wire on a regular basis, then those calluses you are trying to avoid will actually become your best friends. So… if you are going to be doing wire jewelry as a profession, then what you may want to be asking instead, is “how do I get those lovely, empowering, superhumanly tough finger tips and fingernails I can almost whittle wood with” To which the answer is the same as how do you get to Carnegie hall, practice, practice, practice.
    As far as getting the dark stains off when they are really bad, as the ‘Cougar’ suggested, Lava soap is great for scrubbing tough stains off skin. What I have found to work best for me is the liquid lava soap on a damp scotch-brite style scouring pad (the kind with a tough sponge on one side and the scrub-pad on the other). The only time I’m am concerned about having really clean hands while I work, is when I am wrapping ultra-white cameos and carved bone pieces. I prepare my wire as usual (polish/work harden and straighten) then wipe down my tools and wire with a rag dampened with alcohol to remove excess oils and grime, and wash my hands clean before I start to wrap the piece.

  3. avatar

    Casey Willson

    March 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

    A funny thing I noticed. Since I’ve been making jewelry and wire sculpting and wood carving my hands are in better condition than before. I’ve never been any kind of beauty queen (I’ve only just begun at 61 to use a bit of face powder to disguise color variations on my face). My Sis, who cares for herself intensely has soft nails. Mine just keep growing and I have to cut them off except for the now and again break.
    I just don’t care. The beauty we create is shared by all who admire and wear our creations.

  4. avatar

    Merlene Wall

    March 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

    another way to keep your hands clean is to have a box of baby wipes nearby – I wipe my hands often and it does not leave a stick residue, it dries quickly and you are able to continue.

  5. avatar

    Michele Nicholson

    March 18, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I use something simple like masking tape around the tips of fingers where the pressure is. Looks crazy but it works. I’ve heard there is a product called “alligator skin” that tapes around your fingers as well to protect. Probably more flexible than masking tape! :)


  6. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 11:00 am

    another answer to the problem of tarnish on the hands is embrace it,
    it is a wonderful thing to work with your hands and be able to create things of beauty but alas! there is another solution . When you are rubbing your wire do it with a polishing cloth ( I use red rogue on the cloth).try it ,it does work and your piece looks great as you are working with CLEAN wire. But remember all you have to do is wash your hand and nobody knows you have been busy creating beautiful things. and as for calluses ,well they never hurt anybody just means you are enjoying your creativity. Now go and ENJOY!

  7. avatar

    Donna Black

    March 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I really got a kick out of being ready to play the guitar in Dales’ response.
    Thank you for your daily question and answers.

  8. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I know about those sore hands and calluses. The super glue definitely works if bleeding occurs. When you go to bed at night if you use a good hand cream, oil or something of that nature and wear white dermatological gloves to bed. It just works miracles for my hands. I purchase the gloves from my pharmacy at Target, any pharmacy should be able to get them for you. I only pay about $2.00 per pair. When they get “lotion or oil saturated” I just throw them in the washer and use over and over.

  9. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    2 other treatments that work: Udder Cream (used for cows udders) you can buy that at a drug store or feed store. spread liberally over hands at night and put on a pair of cotton gloves for the night. If you do not have cotton gloves a pair of cotton socks works just as well
    You can also substitute Vaseline for Udder Cream. This works well also.
    I work with wire and am a nurse also. Which means my hands get extra wear and tear. The above treatments keep my hands from cracking.

  10. avatar

    Susan Mazlum

    March 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I massage horses so my hands are exposed to all kinds of weather (wire jewelry is a sideline/hobby for me). The best solution for troubled hands that I’ve found is to use creams Vs lotions. I rotate among Nivea, Crack-cream, Gold Bond and similar products.

    Also, you’ll want to hydrate your skin by soaking your hands for five minutes or so before applying the creams. You can soak in plain water (preferrably filtered or spring) or you can make a “tea” soak with herbs such as rosemary and ginger (good for skin and circulation) and a splash of apple cider vinegar (automatically pH balances the skin) mixed with artesian or spring water. The idea behind creams is to lock in the moisture as most creams do not actually penetrate the skin barrier, hence the ‘soak’ prior to use of a cream.

    As Dale mentioned, wearing cotton gloves to bed after applying a cream can help a great deal. If you are a ‘naturalist’ and don’t want to try the Super glue, Tea Tree Oil is a fast and super healer for cracks. I’ve also found that wearing a band-aid over a crack overnight, and if possible for the next day, helps them heal faster.

    Also, as Dale mentioned, calluses can be a good thing. They are the body’s response to the pressure of the wire and actually develop to help protect the skin and soft tissue of your finger tips. If you really want to, you can help keep the calluses in check by using a pumice stone on your finger tips after soaking them a bit, then apply your cream.

    Hope this helps a bit!

  11. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Vicks Vapo Rub rubbed into the hands at night and wear cotton gloves to bed is almost a Miracle. It also works for feet with socks. It heals up the ragged cuticles also.

  12. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    If you know of someone selling Avon, use the trick my Mom (and I use still today), buy some Silicon Glove handcream. Rub it in real well & wave your hands til dry and not tacky to touch. Then go about wire working. Mom swore by it and she worked in the garden. did tapistry, and Quilted, all jobs designed to give you tough & rough hands!:) I do replenish 2 times a day, depending on what I am working with. Wire working is not hard after using the hand cream and your hands clean up nicer and easily when you use the cream.
    Other hand creams are sticky and don’t do the vanishing act as Avon Product does. Happy wiring+D MaryBug

  13. avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    There is a product called “Pro-Tech” which can be found in hardware stores Auto-parts stores and on the internet. It is a cream you apply to your hands before starting to work with your wire. Rub it in real good and it dries clear. Hence the nick-name “The invisible glove”. Your hands will still get dirty but when you wash it off with soap and water the dirt is gone. I used Pro_Tech for many years while running machines in a factory and it worked great. Hope this helps.

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  15. avatar


    March 27, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Al, have you used the Pro-Tech with wire jewelry making? I’m just curious whether it leaves any residue or other tendency for the wire to tarnish. It sounds like a wonderful product if it doesn’t.