Daily Wire Tip April 17: Wire Jewelry Ideas Without Using Gemstones

By on April 17, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
April 17, 2010


Let me first of all thank you for the time you take to answer questions.  It Is rarity to have an “expert” willing to help beginners for free.  I am a 53 year old nurse looking for something to help unwind in the present day and something to give a source of income in retirement.  I figure I have about 12 years to get it right.  In the meantime, my gift giving should get a whole lot easier.  I have been an avid beader with a passion for vintage and other garage sale “stuff”.  I am also interested in marrying polymer clay beading to wire wrapping.  I don’t have the income to support gemstones at this time.  Any thoughts?


First, many thanks for your appreciation! It sounds like you have a great plan ‘in progress’. Many of my students are in the medical field and find wire jewelry making to be not only a wonderful stress reliever, but also a good creative outlet, as it does not take much space or time. Wire can be used to incorporate about anything, including vintage jewelry and other components, AND beads made of different materials like polymer clay. I enjoy using a wide variety of items in my work, often made by other artist friends such as cabochons made of polymer clay or dichroic glass.

Using glass stones, that come out of old jewelry settings, is a great way to practice setting cut stones, and many of us have found that old resin cabs and cameos sell well too. To begin, my recommendation would be to use a practice wire such as copper and work with some of the patterns and designs already ‘out there’. As your confidence and skills grow, you can then expand into using sterling silver and more expensive supplies, while altering these patterns to accommodate your chosen vintage and ‘found’ goodies.

If you haven’t already signed up to receive our Free Email Patterns, you may wish to take a moment to do by following this link. https://wire-sculpture.com/pages/Jewelry_Making_Patterns2.html On the right hand side, about halfway down is a display box where you can enter your first name and email address. You will then receive a brand new, stepped out pattern about every two weeks, 100% Free!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    April 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I get great pleasure from using river rocks. My guess is that not a lot of wire jewelry designers would be interested. I am constantly amazed at the patterns found when I cut open a rock found on the street, in my yard, or especially construction sites.

    I just pick up a rock and study it to see its potential. Then, I get out the diamond cutters and go to work designing the stone and the wire to fit. Lately, I’ve incorporated some CZs that I got from you guys. The possibilitues are endless.

    A great pastime for an old retired gentleman. I don’t have a piece to show ’cause they are usually gone before I can finish them.

  2. avatar

    Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor

    April 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I am always so surprised to see how many people in the medical profession are interested in crafting. I’ve had more nurses as students than any other career. Maybe it it is the hours, the stress relief or just the type of person but it seems to be a great fit.

    Making your own polymer clay beads is a great compliment to the wonderful wire wrapping techniques you are learning here. It is much cheaper to make your own beads and pendants than it is to purchase them, and there are unlimited possibilities of styles and designs. They marry very well with vintage beads and findings as well as any other types of beads you like to work with. Plus it is pretty darn fun!

  3. avatar

    nancy beegle

    April 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I just want to parrot what Dale has recomended. I’ve been learning from and following her for several yeras now, and also needed something to work with which did not cost what many of the gemstones do now. I’ve found that “found” items, while being inexpensive, also are meaningful, which is a very important part of most women’s jewelry pieces. Also, I like to design pieces around a customer’s “found” item, which makes it less expensive for them, in many instances, and they walk away with a true treasure, while I walk away with more valuable experience and confidence in making a setting/piece around what is normally not a symmetrically shaped focal. Your gift giving will excel, if you do this!

    I also love it that now, there’s copper and other art wires, or even silver plated or gold plated, (vs. filled, which is more expensive), with which to experiment and learn, so that once we feel confident, as Dale said, we can make those designs we feel “safe” with using those more expensive wires and gemstones/cameos, etc.

    What it all boils down to is that you can have fun, relax and learn for not that much, and when the time’s right, you’ll be ready to knock the world’s socks off!

    best wishes to you in your artistic endeavors!

  4. avatar


    April 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I am a 55 year old retired nurse (forced by an accident on the job 10 yrs ago). So I definitely know the feeling to unwind.
    What I have found is flea markets for vintage jewelry. You can find some great swarovski crystals in colors and shapes that are not made anymore, take them apart and just get creative. If the findings are still good, you can incorporate them as vintage as well.
    Sometimes you can find gemstones as people don’t know what they are selling. With turquoise, if the stone is set in an open bezel, check the back as howlite is often dyed to mimic turquoise and you can tell by the cracks on the back where is spiders. You can also get very inexpensive river rocks at craft stores or department stores, in the florist section where they use them for the bottoms of glass vases. Marbles and glass flat stones that you can use as cabs are nice, and can also be found there as well. You can wire wrap them or if you are a beader, you can encase them.
    Happy jeweling!