If you're into wire jewelry, you probably want to make something out of every little pebble, stone and seashell that crosses your path.
Not so fast, friend. Wire wrapping small stones has its challenges. I'm about to tell you what they are and share a few secret strategies for overcoming them.
1. Use beads
Hardcore metalworkers may feel like this is copping out, but the truth is you can wire wrap a bead a whole lot more efficiently (and securely!) than you can wire wrap a stone that doesn't have a hole through it.
Stick one little wire through the hole, and you don't have to worry about the structure of the stone anymore. You can just have fun with the form.
2. Choose the right wire
Personally, I dislike square or half-round wire — it's finicky and needs to be perfect, and those are two words that are not in my vocabulary. I prefer round wire because it can twist in any direction without changing the look, which means I can work more quickly.
That said, the smaller your stone, the more likely you're gonna want your wire to have at least one flat face. Square really is the best for controlling around tiny stones, but half-round has its uses, such as a channel-weave set.
And for a nice variation, twisted wire works, too. Its twists grip all along your stone.
3. Choose the right gauge
If your wire is too big and chunky, you'll never be able to manipulate it around your tiny stone. If your wire is too thin, it will never hold. For smaller stones, you probably want to use wire around 20-22ga.
4. Choose the right stone
The smoother your stone is, the more insane you're going to go trying to wrap it . Even with square wire, those slippery little suckers are gonna go popping all over the room. So instead, pick rough-cut stones or, better yet, hardly-cut stones.
Just check out the image above — the stones on the left are wayyy too smooth, but the ones on the right are perf!
5. Go slowly
This is especially important when you're working with small stones, which show imperfections much more than big stones do. Think about it: If you're wrapping a large stone and the wire isn't perfectly aligned, it's not such a big deal as long as the wire generally follows the shape of the stone.
But when you're working on something small and delicate, any gaps between the wire and the stone will look like a mistake. So take your time, and get it right.
Photos courtesy Gayle Bird