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Thin strands of metal wire provide a stringing material that is both strong and stiff enough to add structure to a beaded project. Wire is sold in different sizes which are called gauges, with smaller numbers being thicker.

Wire provides both strength and structure to beaded pieces that can’t be achieved with threads, cord or nylon. Wire’s inherent stiffness allows the artist to bead easily without the need for a needle.

Wire is sold in different sizes which are called gauges. For example, 20-gauge wire is thicker than 24-gauge, and suitable for most projects like earrings. 22-gauge is usually strong enough to hold when a lighter wire is desired.

Wire can be made from base metals which offer a chrome or gold-tone look, as well as precious metals including gold and sterling silver. Wire products are made in varying hardnesses. The terms used to describe wire hardness refer to how the wire retains it shape under pressure and how easy it is to form into the desired shape.

Dead Soft Wire is extremely malleable; it is easily bent into any shape the artist requires. However, it will easily deform with minimal pressure so it is a poor choice for clasps or toggles that should be secure. Half Hard Wire is malleable but will hold its shape under a fair amount of force. This makes it a good choice for wire-wrapping or findings because it still easy enough to wind and shape into detailed shapes. Full Hard Wire holds its shape under the most pressure, but is not easy to bend into intricate designs.

Memory wire is a pre-shaped product that can be used for bracelets, necklaces and rings. While it is easy to bend, it will regain its pre-coiled shape. The stainless steel is both easy to work with and easy to maintain.

Colourcraft™ wire is a color-coated crafting wire made from copper. It is easy to bend and work with as well as stiff enough to retain its shape under moderate pressure.

Super-Thin Beading Wire is the finest weight of beading wire, available in gold and silver. This is a great weight for wrapping beach glass, stones and other elements that cannot be drilled. Its thin weight means it lack the strength for anything larger than seed and bugle beads.

Precious metal wire is ideal for wire-wrapping, chain-making and other jewelry construction. Beaders can choose from gold-filled or sterling silver in various shapes and hardnesses. Jewelry with intricate wire swirls and elements are usually fabricated with precious metal wire.

Tigertail and soft-flex consist of twisted stainless steel wire with a plastic coating, blurring the distinction between wire and thread. The plastic coating protects the wire from being frayed by beads with rough edges and the wire itself is stronger and can hold more weight than thread. Unlike pure wire however, tigertail retains a supple drape when used in necklaces and other beaded jewelry. Soft-flex has more thinner strands than tigertail and is less prone to kinking. Crimp beads are used to hold beads and finding in place.

Gallery pieces with Wire:

Rose Quartz Bracelet
Antique Silver Swirls
The Krishna Indian Deity Necklace

About the Beadage Glossary

This glossary is growing all the time. Please feel free to suggest a term to add.

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