As you know, working with metal hardens it. You've probably taken a hammer to your jewelry so it doesn't bend out of shape. But here's what is interesting: The temper of the wire is directly related to this drawing process. Wire hardness is measured using a scale of 0 to 4. Historically, the softest wire, a number 0, was pulled through the die one time. A hardness of 2, two times. Each time it was pulled through the drawplate, it would become stiffer. Wire at hardness 4 would have been pulled through the die five or more times.
Today, those numbers don't correspond with the number of times the wire is drawn through a drawplate. Instead, jewelry wire is sold as dead soft, half-hard, or full hard. Dead soft wire is manufactured with a hardness of 0, half-hard has a hardness of 2, and fully hardened wire is 4. Now, I understand more clearly what those numbers mean.
Copper wire, like the jewelry wire we sell, goes through as many as 10 or more sets of drawplates. Every few sets, the copper has to be annealed, or heated, to soften it before it continues its process through successively smaller dies. Telephone wire is drawn up to 20 times - but it goes in hot.
These centuries-old steps are carried out today in the workshops of individual artisans, who use primarily silver and gold. Here's a link to a fascinating step-by-step look at one craftsman's wire making.
And now that I have a greater appreciation for wire, it's time to go outside and get a suntan!