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Daily Wire Tip Nov. 22: Intro to Gauges
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
November 22, 2010
As a beginner, I would like to know the right gauge of wire I should practice with. I have been shown in 24 and 22-gauge copper to get me started. I have been told by others that square and half round would be better. I am getting ready to send in an order and really would like to use my money wisely while I practice. I will be starting with gemstones, freeform crystals, and cabochons. Thanks.
-Cathy in Jacksonville, Florida
Cathy, it really depends on the way you wish to set the stones you mention using. I am known for using square wire, most often half hard temper, and sometimes, dead soft.
My favorite gauge is 22, because it works well in a lot of patterns and designs. Using square wire wrapped with half round is almost fool-proof, as round wire is very difficult to wrap around a flat bundle, keeping the bundle flat to be used as a frame to set a cabochon. However, round wire will work if you are caging something. For examples of what I am referring to, look at the photos of the Basic Pendant Frame and Lock That Rock. Here is an example of a Caged Crystal (scroll down to see it better).
As far as keeping your craft affordable, copper is great to practice in and quite a few people like to purchase jewelry made from copper. It also looks pretty when mixed with sterling silver, but as it will tarnish the silver quickly, I mix copper with Argentium®. Quite a few of my students work only in Argentium and/or sterling, as gold is so expensive these days. After you make a few pieces and offer them for sale, your customer feedback will help you decide which metal(s) will sell best in your area.
Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
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