Artistic wire is created by Artistic Wire Ltd., offering non-tarnish wire and permanent colored copper wire available in 50 colors and 14 gauges. They also offer silver-plated colored copper wire available in 8 sizes and 13 colors. The wire is either vinyl coated copper or silver-plated and dyed wire, but the shiny silver, gold or brass wires usually have an anti-tarnish coating; allow the wire to resist tarnish as long as the coating is intact. It has a harness of soft in the wire world and generally requires ‘hardening’ to keep its shape. Soft wire bends easier and tends to remain in place once it is bent. Soft wire is perfect for making spirals and other rounded shapes, making it easy to mold the wire into any shape one desires.
Depending on the design I’ll use different gauges of wire; for links in necklaces and bracelets I use heavy 16-18g wire and for small findings I’ll use a medium-small 20-22gauge. And when making the coils in rings I turn to even smaller gauges of 24-28g wire over 18-20g wire. All of these are done using the non-tarnish or coated colored wire; which allows me to bring designs to my customers at the same quality of sterling silver or gold, but at a much lower cost. I still work with sterling silver and will note the wire used in every design, though the luster will eventually fade with sterling silver, non-tarnish wire requires a lot less cleaning to keep the color and shiny effect.
Once the jewelry design is complete I need to harden the wire to keep the desired shape. This is done by putting the piece in a tumbler, with water and cleaner for about 15-20 minutes. This hardens the wire and also cleans the jewelry of any grease, minerals or oils that come from naturally working with the wire and stones. The jewelry is then completely ready to be photographed and wrapped for a show or shipped off to a customer.
You can find artistic wire at any local hobby or craft store, or online at any number of wholesale vendors. Visit my website and browse through the selection of wire sculptured designs using the artistic wire.