A few weeks ago a neighbor friend of mine was cleaning out his garage. He has tons of tools and gadgets. I’ve borrowed tools from him to complete my list of supplies for jewelry/metal working workshops in the past. His grandfather used to own a hardware store so you can imagine what his garage contains! Knowing that I make jewelry, he brought out an old shoebox full of different kinds of old wire in 19 & 20 gauge. He asked, “Do you think you could use this?” I think I grabbed the box a little too quickly from him as I said, “Yes!” I was a little excited. I don’t think he understood why I was so enthusiastic about that old wire he was going to throw away.
I love the antique packaging. This wire was only .59 cents way back then! The box was full of copper, regular silver tone and black steel wire. I had been wanting to buy dark annealed steel wire for quite a while, but just had not done it yet. I researched it this morning and Hillman makes small packages of Dark Annealed Wire in a 19 gauge which is what I used for this bracelet and I am getting ready to order Hillman 20 gauge dark annealed wire because it will be a little easier to work with. I am also ordering the 24ga to use with some of my regular beads with average to small size holes. You won’t find it in craft stores because it is considered a mechanics wire. For those of you unfamiliar with wire gauge and size:
Lower number = thicker wire = harder to bend and fit through beads
Higher number = thinner wire = easier to bend and fit through beads
Opposite of what you may expect!
Last night I opened up some dark wire and made this bracelet. I really like it. The silver plated beads I used have large holes so both the leather and the 19 gauge wire fit through easily.
I managed to incorporate one of my leather infinity links, which worked as a softer contrast to the steel wire. The huge white pearl, silver pearl and faceted onyx bead add a fun little jingle when you wear it.
Tips for Using Annealed Steel Wire For Jewelry Making
1) Use a hardware grade metal cutter. Don’t use your Tronex if you know what I mean!
2) Wear safetly glasses when cutting.
3) Sand the cut edges with a file.
4) Fine sand paper or 00 steel wool will take off some of the dark color and add interest to your piece.
5) Don’t get it wet if you don’t want it to rust! You can use something like Renaissance wax to help protect the finish.
6) Don’t make it for someone with metal allergies and be sure to note what it is made of if you are going to sell it!
Have fun and experiment! Dark annealed steel wire is a great way to add a rustic, oxidized look at a fraction of the cost of sterling silver or silver filled wire.
P.S. I have been posting less frequently than usual because I accidently poured water on the keyboard of my MacBook Pro and drowned it. Totally out of commission. I spent lots of time at the Apple store hoping to find someone to tell me it made sense to fix it. No such luck. I need to buy a new one and I can’t stomach that right now in the height of gift giving season. So, I have been working on my old MacBook which moves at least 5 times slower. I am not long on patience so it has been a forced break from technology. So, I am still here. Just not at my computer as much. It’s been good for my mind – once I got through the shakes and withdrawal phase of less keyboard time. You should try it – just don’t pour water on your keyboard and I would suggest backing up your hard drive every now and then! Lesson learned for me!