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Daily Tip June 22: Designing Your Own Bracelet
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
June 22, 2010
Dale, is there a rule of thumb governing the size and temper of wire for a self-designed project? For instance, for a bracelet, what determines the size of the base wire and the size of the wrapping wire? Thanks.
-John in Alma, Arkansas
Ok, here is where I’ll get comments about being vague, but the wire gauge chosen really is up to you–no rules, per se. I am going to answer this one from personal experience with bracelets. However, the variety of projects is huge, and the answer could cover many paragraphs.
As a traditional/classic wire jewelry designer, when I make bracelets, there are two things that I take into consideration: who is going to be wearing it, and how often? An all-wire bangle for a child or for a small female arm can be made in a delicate manner, using 22-gauge square half hard wire for both the base and the wraps. For a design made for a larger arm or a male, I increase the gauge for both the base and the wraps to 21 or 20. If the larger design includes beads, cabs, or components, and will be rather wide (that is, 10 wires or more), I stay with 22.
Because bracelets are in a high-traffic area, they need to be strong This is why I choose to use a square half hard for the wraps, always in the same gauge as the base. The only time I deviate is when making heavy pattern wire bracelets. Due to the dome present on most pattern wire, I use either a 16-gauge or 18-gauge half hard half round so it flows more easily over the pattern wire’s dome. The base wire (this is the wire that sandwiches the pattern wire) is chosen to match the thickness of the pattern wire’s edge, so it does not want to pull under or over the pattern wire while it is all being wrapped.
Often, plain common sense can help you choose gauges that go together. For example, if a bracelet is made using 21-gauge square half hard for base wires, a 21-gauge half round will not be strong enough to wrap it unless a LOT of wraps are used! Overall, 22-gauge square half hard is my favorite choice for about any design, from pendants and rings to bracelets.
Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
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