Daily Wire Tip Nov. 22: Intro to Gauges

By on November 21, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
November 22, 2010

Question:

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

Answer:

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 ArgentiumĀ®. 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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3 Comments

  1. avatar

    Cathy

    November 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks so much for this important information for me! I just happened to get the online instructions on Lock that Rock and have practiced on all shape and sizes of stones and crystals. Beautiful and versatile and an easy pattern. On to wrapping with the real deal and selling now!

  2. avatar

    Barbara Wolf

    November 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Dale, I read your wire tips all the time and get a lot of good advice from it. Have tried my look on rings, some bracelets, mostly cabochons so I use 22g half hard in silver and gold filled wire. I am not too fond of copper on a expensive stone since it tarnishes and in my mind makes the stone look cheap. There are many things where it looks good in copper and I use it a lot. I do some chainmaille in copper and I love it.

  3. avatar

    Connie

    November 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I’ve been a loom beader for years and am now wire wrapping. One idea is go to a hardware store and get plain long roll of the gauge you want of stainless steel. it is very cheap. I always try my first attempt with until I get it right and professional. Then I go to the sterling. I find much more improvement with practice, practice, practice!

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