Organizing Jewelry Wire
by Dale Armstrong
Question:

After ten years in our current home, we are moving to a larger home where I am so fortunate to have my very own jewelry studio. I won't have to share that space with anyone, so I want to take this opportunity to set things up perfectly.

So my question is, what's the best way to store wire? Currently I use drawers, which works well for spools, but not so well for bags of larger gauge wires. I want them stored safely (unscratched), and organized, so I can find what I need quickly and easily accessible. Any suggestions? Thanks!

-Jackie in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Instructions
Answer:

Hi Jackie, first - congratulations on your new home, especially your new studio space!

It sounds like you already have most of your wire issue taken care of. Keeping spools in a drawer, maybe organized by metal type and shape, is good. Here's where I go from there.
Organizing and Labeling


For any temper other than soft, I personally prefer coiled wire - that is, wire that is in a wide coil and stored in a plastic bag, often with twist-ties holding the coil together - rather than wire on a spool. I prefer coiled wire because there is no challenge when removing the desired amount and dealing with the "spring" that wants to become a giant slinky. To store coiled wire, most of the WS Faculty members and I place the original bag, or envelope, containing the wire into a gallon-size freezer zip-loc bag. (We use the additional bag so we can just keep adding smaller bags to it.) We like the freezer style because there is a space to write the gauge, temper, shape, and any other information we wish to remember, and it is made of a more durable, heavier plastic. If a bag does not have a label area, simply add your own stick-on label and abbreviate something you will remember, such as 18g R S for 18 gauge round soft wire. For metal type, you can use Ag or SS for sterling silver, Au or GF for gold-filled, C or Cu for copper, Arg for Argentium®, etc.

These bags can then be arranged in a box, file cabinet (fixed or portable), expandable folder, or drawer (using a rack and hanging file folders) in the way you want them to be. A suggestion would be to organize your wire by color and shape. Personally, I organize my wire by metal and then shape and temper. I keep each metal in a different, portable box, separated by home-made poster board tabbed pages. The wires I use most often are in front (for me, those are square and half round) and in each section, the wire bags are placed from smallest gauge to largest. So my labels, in order, are: Square Half-Hard, Half-Round, Square Soft, Round (all tempers), Special (meaning larger gauges like 14 and 12, mixed shapes) and Pattern. I separate some categories with a totally different one, so I don't mistakenly grab soft square when I wanted half-hard square.

Once you have a system down, wire organization will definitely be your friend!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

Materials

Wire
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Wire Wrapping/Beading Work Station
G16-43
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  • Category: Storage
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