Tuesday, January 8, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Cleaning Wire with Steel Wool

In this free tutorial, I'd like to talk about the importance of cleaning your sterling silver, brass, bronze, copper, or gold-filled wire prior to using it to make jewelry. Note: If you're using colored craft wire, this step is usually not necessary because the color coating keeps the wire from tarnishing.
Straight wire is much easier to clean than coiled, bent, spiraled or shaped wire. So the first thing I do is clean my wire using either 0000 (superfine) steel wool from the hardware store, or a polishing cloth of some type. I have friends who clean their wire using very fine sandpaper, too.
Here’s my method:
Tear off a piece of steel wool and roll it into a ball to compress the fibers. By the way, there is no need to worry about embedding the fine steel wool in your skin. I've been making wire jewelry for more than a decade and always use steel wool to clean it at various stages of the process. I've never, ever had bits of steel wool embed in my skin, even after using it thousands of times.
Compressing the ball of steel wool as shown below will make it much more useful as a cleaning pad for wire and sheet metal:
Open up the ball slightly and wrap it around a wire piece. Pull the wire through the steel wool while pinching it tightly:
Repeat several times. This process simultaneously cleans, polishes and straightens your wire. Another option is to use a jewelry polishing pad (the one pictured below is from www.riogrande.com) and/or a yellow Sunshine polishing cloth.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Many more wire jewelry techniques and projects are found in my instructional DVDs and eBooks, including Arty Jewelry, Arty Jewelry II, Arty Jewelry III, and Arty Jewelry IV. I also offer day classes in jewelry stores in the Southern California area, and I teach my techniques during Wild Wire Women retreats held in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California.
Happy wrapping,

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