Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Twisted Tuesdays - The Wire

colored copper wire love 1
I thought the best way to kick off "Twisted Tuesdays" would be to talk about WIRE! My book, Totally Twisted, is a wire book, you know, and the question I get asked most these days is "where do I get that colored wire?". Today I'll answer that question, I'll tell you about my favorite colors, the gauges you should have on hand, and I will give you a few pointers on working with colored wire. Then at the end of the post, you can check out my latest piece, Memory Cascade, that uses this lovely stuff.


Parawire, Parawire, Parawire! The Paramount Wire Company is the place where I get all my colored copper wire. I should start by saying this: Parawire does not pay me to use their wire, and I don't receive any incentives for telling you to shop with them. When getting ready to write my book, I did contact them and they graciously agreed to donate the wire I needed to create the book projects. I had already been using their wire for a couple years at the point and I knew it was going to be the wire I used for the book. Why? Well, lemme tell ya. I have tried a few of the other "craft" wires and none compare to the quality, for me, to Parawire. The variety of colors is wonderful, the durability of the wire is fantastic, and the cost is very reasonable (a 50ft spool is less than $6).

Okay, so you found the website you need to get the wire you want but what next? What do you fill your cart with? They have all the colors and all the sizes, but which ones do you need? I don't like telling you "get this color". Just because I love the color doesn't mean it is your favorite. You know what you like! Hone in on that. Focus on your favorites. What do you find yourself using the most in your own work? Some of my favorites to use are: Neon Peacock, Neon Amethyst, Vintage Bronze, Outrageous Orange, and Teal. Yeah, I am a "blue" girl, but I held back and didn't add Neon Flag Blue, Neon Baby Blue, and Seafoam to my list of favorites (they are on the list though). Really, you can't go wrong, all the colors are great... except Antique White and Ultra White, I don't care for those. The sizes I use most in the book are 18g and 20g (and 22g for one project). A 50ft spool is more than enough for most projects, and should actually get you through a few of them!

I commented on how durable the colored copper wire is that I use in my book, but how durable is durable? right? Well, this anodized coating, unfortunately, is not indestructible. There are times, no matter how hard you try, that the coating is going to become marred. I do have a few tips for you to help you avoid it though. First, I am not sure if you noticed it or not, but I rarely ever use colored wire for a "link", meaning I try to tool it as little as possible. If I was using round nose and chain nose pliers on it, that is going to be the fastest way to scar it. One slip of the pliers when your grip is too tight and you are gonna have a problem. So, think coils with a "core" wire that is not coated that can be manipulated without worry. Second, if you become brave enough to move past coils-only, you can hammer color copper wire! I would stick to the chasing end of your hammer (large flat side) and keep your strikes true. Commit to the hit, and it will flatten nicely without damaging the surface coloring. Last, when making wrapped loops, keep to the smaller gauges (20g or smaller). The smaller the gauge the more malleable the wire is and the less work it takes to shape it... the less work, the less time the tools are in contact with the wire and the less likely the wire is to be damaged. One of the reasons I love Parawire so much is that I have found it the most durable I have worked with, other wires become damaged even when just coiling with them.

So, to recap... I love Parawire and it is what I recommend for creating the colorful projects in Totally Twisted. There are lots of colors to choose from, so look at your work and go with colors you know you love. I use 18g & 20g wire most often in my book. Finally, when working with colored copper wire, stick to coiling, or when "tooling" it use smaller (finer) gauges.

memory cascade

16 comments:

Christine said...

Yep, Parawire is all i use, too! The wire is great, but the colors....oooh!! Thanks for the tips, Kerry!

Also, I love the necklace...and I originally thought the chain was enameled chain, but now I see it is those cool spring links! LOVE it!

Have a Terrific Tuesday!!

Kristen said...

I loved all the colors I saw on there as well, but I lean more to the greens. :) Thanks for sharing all the tips, I'll be getting mine soon!

Patricia Wood said...

Beautiful piece! And many thanks for sharing these great tips!

Anonymous said...

Kerry, I always wanted to know more - and you shared a great behind-the-colored-wire scene. Your new necklace is GORGEOUS...full of beautiful colors! Hope you're having a good day - I'm thinking of you. {hugs!}

TesoriTrovati said...

That is a great post, Kerry. And a fitting kick-off to Twisted Tuesdays! (I guess I was jumping the gun by asking you these questions last week!) I did check out Parawire and they have the most incredible colors. I will have a hard time choosing! I think I need sampler packs or something to get over my inability to choose. I already have a few ideas of what I will use these techniques for...just need time to play with my crappy craft wire before I launch into the Parawire world!
Thanks.
Enjoy the day!
Erin
P.S. that necklace is the bomb!

Anonymous said...

First I must say I was so excited to get your book last week. I did not put it down until I looked completely through it and inspected every piece and project that was in there. The bold and bright colors are wonderful! They are all so amazing! I can't wait to get started on one of them.
Second, I love your "Twisted Tuesdays"! For someone like me, who has not been making jewelry for very long and doesn't know alot of info, it is wonderful. The color of the wire is just infectious. I can see why you use it. I can't wait to get my hands on some. Thank you for you post.

Tina McKee

Rose Works Jewelry said...

Thanks for the tip - I'd love to do more wire work - and now I know where to look! I think your book is going on my wish list too :)

Jenny J-V said...

Dang Gal! haaaaaaaa I can't wait to get some bangles done...just got some shopping on, so thanks for the insider tips!!!!

A Beaded Affair said...

Gorgeous piece. Gotta admit I haven't used Parawire before. Maybe it's time to try it out.
Lois

Jenny J-V said...

I made some Totally Twisted inspired earrings...check them out...WWW.jenjuddrocks.com

Jen Greeneklee said...

hi Kerry, your book arrived today - thanks so much!

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

Wow! What an impressive array of colors! I've never played with colored wire but you have me intrigued. Can't wait to buy the book too.

Jenn said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been trying different craft wire and not real happy. This helps tremendously. Can't wait to get my copy of your book (I'm in Hong Kong). Gorgeous necklace.

Pretty Things said...

Any hints for keeping the pliers from slipping off the wire? I've nearly put my eye out more than once!

Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners® said...

Parawire is great and thanks for the reminder to just GO and buy some for myself!!

LOVE this necklace, its so blue and so you!

xoxoxo

Mari said...

I already got my twisted jewelry book copy and is awesome!!!! this is going to be my first experience with doing wire jewelry and I choose your book as my tutor!!!