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Fine Silver and Wirewrapping

Daily Wire Tip Sept. 14: Fine Silver and Wirewrapping

By on September 14, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
September 14, 2010

Question:

Is fine silver wire a good choice for wirewrapping of any kind? I would think that it might be too soft. Curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

-Barbara in Atlanta, Georgia

Answer:

In my opinion Barbara, fine silver (.999) is way too soft for most wire wrap projects, however it could be used to hand sculpt pendant frames, making sure to twist the bail wires for a bit of hardness before making the bail.

And before folks ask–no, putting .999 silver into a tumbler will not help to harden it – nor will annealing it. .999 silver is about as pure as silver can get and as such it is true to its chemical element characteristics, which can be found on one of my favorite resource sites: Wikipedia’s entry on Silver.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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6 Comments

  1. avatar

    V

    September 14, 2010 at 7:47 am

    To my knowledge, fine silver wire is mostly good for soldering.
    What makes it superior to sterling in this context is that you don’t need to pickle it after soldering. You dip recently soldered wire into a pickle bath to remove the oxidation and other fun that comes from welding sterling.

    One has to do this because all kinds of interesting things happen to this blend of metals when you heat it up. The metals start to separate due to different melting temperatures.

    Coincidentally, heating fine silver will stiffen it, but it’s not really practical for wire sculpture.

  2. avatar

    mary

    September 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I use fine silver only for making my own headpins in various lengths as I need them. I can cut a large assortment of wire lengths quickly, hand them over to the DH and he fires up the torch and finishes them off for me with the little ball on the end. I always have 24 and 22 gauge around for that.
    As Dale has stated, way too soft for most wire wrapping projects.

  3. avatar

    Kathy Clausen

    September 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Hi! I was interested to read the response about fine silver not becoming work hardened by tumbling. I do quite a bit of work with metal clay and use a tumbler to work harden some of my work. For some items, I fire the pieces at the highest temperature for a longer period of time to make them strong, but for most things, ie pendants, bracelets, earrings, the tumbler works well to polish and work harden. Is there a difference in the fine silver from metal clay and the fine silver in wire form? Of course the metal clay pieces are thicker than most wire, but I have embedded fine silver wire into the metal clay to make the little loops on earrings so that I can fasten earwires and jump rings. Really interesting!
    Thanks!

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      September 15, 2010 at 12:13 am

      Hi Kathy, I answer questions with regards to ‘Wire’, and have no experience with any type of metal clay. Hopefully someone else can help with your comment?

  4. avatar

    beverly

    September 16, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I work with both precious metal clay and wire of all types and you can only use fine silver wire with the pmc because of the copper in the other types of silver wire. You have to depletion guild, in the kiln, the sterling wire first to get the fine silver layer before you can use it in pmc. Kathy needs to visit the different pmc sites online that she can google. They all have info and tips about the use of wire and pmc. Pmc is a wonderful medium that has opened a whole new realm of jewelry making for me without the need to aquire the skills of the silversmith. And when you add wire to the pmc, well, I think you have the best of both worlds.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      September 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      Beverly, thanks so much for your advice. Personally I have had many opportunities to try different metal clays, and although I would really like to, I am afraid I would really like it and have convinced myself that I need to continue what I do with wire–but . . . one day in the near future . . .

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