Tuesday, March 02, 2010
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.