When you start beading, the first thing that you should think about are your beading supplies. One of the most important beading supplies is the wire you will need to make beaded jewelry and especially beaded trees. Just as there are different types of beads, there is also a wide variety of beading wires to choose from. Wires differ from each in many different respects, including hardness, shape, thickness (gauge), and the material from which they are made.
Beading wire can include gold, silver, copper and several other materials. There are also variations of gold and silver wires, such as sterling silver. When you are just beginner, the better and the cheapest choice for you will be brass or copper, they are also easy to manipulate.
Hardness of beading wire
One characteristic of wire is its hardness. For example, sterling silver is typically available in two main categories – half-hard and dead-soft. Dead-soft wire is used when you want to bend it with your fingers. Half-hard holds its shape better as it is a slightly stiffer wire. You will find that beading wire will harden as it is manipulated but you also have the option of hammering a piece, which will flatten the shape, if you want a more rigid piece.
Shape of the Wire
Various shapes are available in all types of beading wire. Shapes include round, half-round, twisted, square and triangle. The shape you choose will depend on the piece you are making and the style you want.
Gauge of Wire
The thickness or diameter of the wire is measured by the gauge. Between 12 and 28 are the most common sizes used for wire and bead jewelry making. The lower the gauge number is the bigger the thickness of the wire will be.
Gauge 12 – 14
This wire is only available in the hardness dead-soft and is best used for wire shapes that are unsupported such as neck wires and bangle bracelets.
Gauge 16 – 18
This wire is of medium thickness and fairly sturdy. This wire is regularly used to make clasps, large jump rings and chain mail.
Gauge 20 – 22
This wire is an all-purpose wire and has many uses such as loops jump rings, head pins and eye pins. This gauge is available in dead-soft or half-hard.
Gauge 24 – 26
This wire is commonly referred to as an ultra fine wire. It is sometimes used for beaded flowers, wire crochet and wire wrapping. But is also regularly used with small gemstones and small pearls.
This wire, and thinner wires, are most commonly used for delicate applications such as crochet and twining. Also if your beads, pearls or gemstones have tiny holes then this gauge wire may be the only option.