Saturday, July 16, 2011

Basic Loop, Wrapped Loop Tutorials

This week I want to put the limelight on an amazing designer, Lorri Ely of, who has put all of her hard earned knowledge about beaded jewellery basics on her website for free. And what a website, she explores stringing techniques, earring makings, even how to sell your jewellery in various venues and tips on running a jewellery business.

This is a site I wholeheartedly wish was available when I started making jewellery over 20 years ago! But then again, the internet was not what it is these days either.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Starting a New Coiling Wire

This week is a step by step instruction for working with wire.

Often you are doing a coil and run out of the coiling wire before you are ready.

Don't fret, it is easy to learn how to make a seamless join between two wires in this situation.

As it is a step by step, I have made an instructable for the process:

Link is here:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wire Physical Descriptions

Chapter two in a series of Sterling and copper wire properties and how to work with it. In a previous post we discussed the work hardening properties of wire. This article will cover the physical description of wire shapes and sizes.

If you want to find out more about my jewellery, visit my website at
or view my growing collection of free instructables at under the user ID of Amandajewls. Here is one to make a basic head pin to get you started.

Wire Gauges
Wire is sold in different thicknesses called gauge, which refers to the profile of a cross section of the solid wire. The Standard Wire Gauge, a British system used in Australia, works on a metric system of gauging based on the measure of the solid wire diameter (not perimeter or circumference) in millimeters.
America uses an even numbers based numbering system (American Wire Gauge) that refers to the times the wire has been pulled through a drawplate to “draw it down” for thinner thickness. So the higher the number of gauge in the American system, the thinner the wire.
In the Australian market a working knowledge of both metric and American system is necessary when purchasing wire.
Quick Comparison Chart
Standard Wire Gauge (SWG)
American Wire Gauge (AWG)
0.3 mm
0.4 mm
0.5 mm
0.6 mm
0.7 mm

0.8 mm
0.9 mm

1.0 mm
1.25 mm
1.63 mm
2 mm
The online store "Bulk Wire" has a fabulous all encompassing Wire Gauge chart with explanations located here:
Wire Shape
Wire can be purchased in a wide variety of shapes, which can best suit the needs of a project. The shape refers to the profile of a cross section of the wire.
These shapes include round, oval, half round (semi-circle), square, rectangle, double half round, beaded (looks like continuous balls) and even elaborate filigree wires.
For half round, the measurements are often given with two measures formatted like "2.0 mm x 0.9 mm". The first number refers to the flat side, the width. The second number refers to the height of the top most curved portion. So in the example, our half round wire is 2 mm wide and 0.9 mm tall - so more of a half oval than half circle.
When searching for wire online, it is highly suggested to have a calipers ruler and samples of a variety of gauges in front of you for reference.
Wire can come in fancier shapes as well, each with their own specific uses.
Embossed strips are strips of metal that have been sent through a press mill forcing a pattern onto one side. These are perfect for adding immediate, complex texture to projects such as ring shanks or bracelets. Thin embossed strips can even be used to act as fancy jump rings on necklace chains.
Gallery wire strips have a fancy base with pointy spikes - almost like a fancy comb. This is used in bezel settings with the top spikes folded over to set the stone. I have not used this as I have found from ready bought jewellery with this type of setting, the spikes catch my clothes easily.

Bezel strips are plain or lightly textured strips of varying height and very thin metal used in bezel settings. The strips are thin enough to enable the top to fold in on a stone to set it into a piece of jewellery. Left is a plain bezel strip.

Bezel strips can come fancy as well. The "bottom" is usually straight while the other end has a pattern. The photo right here shows a wavy edged bezel strip. It is important to note that with the fancier bezel strips, you can only grind away the already flat side to adjust the height of the strip or the patterned side will be ruined.

You can also buy round and square hollow tubes of metal in many different diameters. Again the measurements of the tube will have two such as "1.5 mm OD x 0.9 mm ID".

First what do those initials (other than MM) mean? OD means the Outer Diameter of the tube.
ID is the Inner Diameter of the tube.

So in this example, our tube has the outer diameter of 1.5 mm and the inner diameter of 0.9 mm. But how thick is the tube??? That is important if you need a tube thick enough to become a tube setting for a round stone. A little maths is in order:

(OD - ID) / 2 = the thickness of the tube wall.

In our example above, that is:
1.5 mm - 0.9 mm = 0.6 mm / 2 = 0.3 mm. So the wall of the tube is about 0.3 mm (30 AWG) gauge. Pretty thin.

To get a good understanding of what shapes, sizes and textures are available I suggest going to an online shop that sells wire goods and just search through their product pages. Window shopping - but I call it research! A great shop I use is A and E Metals in Sydney, NSW, Australia: