Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

Prepping Wire… September 30, 2015

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:11 pm

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know how much I love working with copper wire.  My first source is the garage. My spouse has always been very supportive of my jewelry work and me nosing around his stashes for wire and tools. Even designing earring displays for me. I love him! But I digress…

The other source is the hardware store…particularly Ace Hardware. They usually have copper wire in all the different gauges I use. Also, a great variety of annealed steel wire. My favorite ‘look’ for copper is an antique patina…just love the warm glow it gives to pieces. I used to apply a Liver of Sulphur patina after I finished jewelry construction, then lots of scrubbing to remove the darkest parts and expose the highlights of the metal. Not sure when it hit me, but I started opening up the wire package and removing the whole spool of wire to dunk into the LOS solution first. It’s a lot less work to finish and I don’t have to worry about getting LOS on stones, pearls, or other beads.


Each pre-treated spool is put into its own baggie, labeled with the wire gauge, and ready to use.  I can also control the amount of patina I want. The thicker wire on the right has been further prepped by a quick swipe with 000 steel wool to give it a spotty effect…some light, some darker.

LOS on copper

Here’s a pair of earrings and ear wires made today…

Copper and chalcedony

Annealed steel wire is another story…it comes in the same type of spooled package as the copper, but is coated with a black powder to keep it from rusting. Way too messy to use as is. I didn’t include a photo of my hands but believe me, it’s messy! I first cut off a length of wire I think I’ll need for some work. Then give it a good scrubbing to get off the black and expose the lovely dark gray wire underneath. In order to keep the wire from rusting, I apply a thin coating of Renaissance Wax with my fingers.  Let dry, then buff with a piece of paper towel.  Ready to use.

I used it to wire wrap some agates into a remade chain in this necklace. The smaller agate pebbles are knotted on caramel colored waxed linen cord.

agate stones

agate stones 2

While I never use the steel wire for ear wires, it is a good match with oxidized sterling silver.

Loved knotting these agate beads today…a kind of “in the zone” activity…so I used up the leftover strand in a Half and Half necklace.

Half beads, Half chain.  Oh, and a few pyrites thrown in the mix.

You can wear it with the chain in front or the agates in front

        or just throw it around your neck and wear it wherever it lands!

agate and pyrite necklace

agate and pyrite necklace 2

And a pair of earrings to finish off the day.

agate and silver


11 Responses to “Prepping Wire…”

  1. Clara Hopkins Says:

    Thank you for sharing. What kind of wire do you use to make ear wires

  2. Hi Lynda! Yes, I’ve started to add the patina before adding beads too, but at what stage depends on the design: I often do a lot of balled headpins, and soldering, and that has to be done before patinating. Sometimes I’m just too tired to think of what I’m doing, and finish the design before I realize I forgot the patina…
    I haven’t used copper for earwires for a long time, since it stains, and I’m wary of allergic reactions. I could varnish it, but varnish cracks and wear eventually.
    I have one copper bangle, and a couple of iron+sterling bangles that I use all the time, and an iron wire necklace which I’ve used a lot this summer, and to my surprise the iron neither rusts nor stains the skin. The copper can leave a slight stain despite my waxing it. The first times I used the iron I waxed it, then I started heat patinating it, and dunk it in linseed oil while hot. I do recommend that: you get a sort of iron frying-pan effect! (Not quite as black, but you get the idea!) It’s more durable than the wax. It’s enough to heat it with the torch until it turns black — haven’t really systematically experimented, but if you heat it until straw colored you temper it — iron is in a different league!
    Love those necklaces, been thinking along those lines myself — minus the wire-wrapped stones, that’s lovely! You’ve got the perfect match between stones and jump rings of the right size and color there!

    • Wow, thanks for sharing your process of prepping wire, especially iron. I do have a question though. Haven’t seen iron wire here. Where do you get it? What do you like about working with it? Love to here more please.

      • I’m not quite sure if there is a difference between your steel wire and my iron wire, they sound fairly similar. I mean: steel should be a mix of iron and something else, making it harder and often rust resistant, which yours apparently isn’t. Mine is specifically blackened iron, nickel-free: (this is the Swedish site, they have a Finnish branch which I use, but you might be able to pick up a bit of the Swedish, maybe). I love this shop, although it’s usually a bit expensive, but they tell you if the metals are nickel and lead free. I get my copper there too, for that reason.
        What I like about iron… it’s cheap, and looks interesting (did you see my recent post over at my blog?). Stains the skin less than copper, as long as you keep it from rusting.Smells metallic. Looks great together with silver, but is hard to solder, I’ve barely mastered it: the heat stays in one spot, so the solder doesn’t flow well like on silver and copper. I also have to sand away the blackened surface to get the solder to stick, but for me, it’s lightly oiled, not powdered, and quite OK to handle for other purposes. It quickly gets brittle when work-hardened, so you have to heat it again if you want to do more. But I like to have a cheap option in that part of the color scale.
        There is a special pickle you should use when soldering iron (I do use silver solder), which you make from peroxide and acetic acid or vinegar, I have a paper about it in a fairly recent Art Jewelry mag. Plain pickle isn’t good, but I’ve actually just skipped that, and only washed in warm water and sanded so far. (Well, tested once, and it rusted.)
        Hope you can use some of this info 🙂

      • Thanks so much, Monica, for your helpful information. I’ve looked around the web for some comparison of steel and iron wire, but nothing definitive yet. Seems like that have similar looks and issues, like the rusting. The steel I purchase here does not have an oily finish, but powder. Regardless, it needs to come off before use. Experimenting with soldering is very tempting! Thanks for sharing!

  3. the orange and brilliant blue earring is a perfect combination of color for your wire wrapped designs, looks great!

    • Thanks so much! That’s what I love about copper…it compliments so many colors and color combinations. BYW…are you new to this blog? I did look at your blog and see that you have so many areas of creativity going…amazing! Welcome!

      • Hey Linda, No I think I have been following your blog for a while now, I started blogging in 2011 and reckon visiting your site before :). Thanks yeah I try out various forms of art but jewlery making and baking is something we have in common. See you around Happy Friday!

      • I do recognize your email name…Hellopalz. Thanks for following along this journey!

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