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October 11, 2012

Copper... Why it is Great for Beginning Wire Wrappers

What is old is new again, I guess.  I've used copper before in my wire work, but never really loved it.  It can be very soft and the look is somewhat rustic.  I tend to prefer a more classic or contemporary look.  But, never say never, because on a whim - or perhaps from convenience or financial necessity - I'm not sure which - I purchased some copper wire at the hardware store on Friday.  Two simple rolls from the hardware store in the electrical department in 20g and 24g.  I knew I had earrings in mind.

I can't tell you how happy working with the copper wire has made me this weekend.  I liked the first pair of earrings when I made them - but I have to admit I loved them once I darkened them with Liver of Sulfur and tumbled them.  They haven't left my ears since! 

This weekend I made 3 more variations of those earrings - all hoops and all but one in copper.  I guess I should get to the point of this post - why am I loving copper and why do I think it's great for beginners?
  1. Temper:  Copper wire is soft to wrap with - but work hardens easily.  It's easy to coil, wrap, hammer - you name it.
  2. Cost:  Nothing releases your creativity like knowing your mistakes are not costly.  Copper is one of the best bargains around.
  3. Convenience:  Run on down to the hardware store electrical aisle.  I picked up 20g and 24g there for $3.99 a roll.
  4. Color:  Copper is bright and shiny off the roll, but it still works with patinas like Liver of Sulfur - so you can learn wire wrapping and finishing techniques with it.  
  5. Size:  You can easily find copper wire in all of the standard sizes we use in making jewelry.  20g for earwire, 24g or 26g for wrapping beads - even 16g or 18g for making bracelets or sturdier pieces like chains.
  6. Variety:  Copper is a hardware store staple.  You can find copper washers in a variety of sizes that can be used for stamping blanks, for dapping, or as a base for beading or wrapping.  I love doming copper pennies.  They are the cheapest stamping/dapping copper you can find (pre-1982).
I learned to make jewelry with sterling silver since it was cheap at the time (about $12 an ounce I think!).  In retrospect, I wish I had known about copper.  I learned with half hard wire (mostly) and now working with soft copper is a dream.  

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