Page 32      Jewelry Making with Beads and Wire -- What a Beginner Needs to Know

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Review of Basic Jig Techniques

We have discussed a lot of common jewelry making mistakes to this point.  As a final review of how to avoid these mistakes here is a review of what we recommend as good technique for making jewelry with a WigJig.

1.  Straighten the wire.  You can straighten the wire before you cut it from the spool, using the spool to help hold one end of the wire or you can cut your wire and make a loop in the end of the wire with the flush cut and hold that loop to straighten your wire.  Start with straight wire and if you should make a mistake and get a bend in your wire then remove it from the jig and straighten it, then put it back on the jig. 

2.  Use only those pegs that you need and add pegs as you go.  For most multi-peg patterns, start with two pegs and add a peg after you have completed bending the wire around the prior peg.  Don't let unused or unnecessary pegs get in your way.

3.  Making consistently shaped wire components is easier when you push the wire with your fingers as close to the pegs as possible.  The technique that works best for us is to move the jig with your non-dominant hand while holding and guiding the wire with your dominant hand.  Concentrate on keeping the wire straight until you are ready to bend it. 

4.  Making wire components on a jig is a series of push the wire then release the piece and check to see if the wire relaxes back to where you want it to be, then push the wire some more if necessary.  With no pressure on the wire it should rest adjacent to the hole for the next peg that you will add to the pattern.  You will need to push the wire slightly beyond where you want it to end up, then allow it to relax back to its final position.  With 1/2 hard wire (as opposed to soft wire) you will need to push the wire further before allowing it to relax back to its finished position. 

5.  Many wire components made on a jig will lay flatter if you flip them over after making a loop around a peg.  When done correctly most wire components can be made with only two layers of wire.  Frequently, our instructions for making components will describe where and how to flip the wire over.

6.  You will need to note the strong axis of your jewelry wire component.  With bracelets and necklaces it is very important that you use the strong axis of the piece in line with the bracelet or necklace.  This will ensure that your wire component will not pull apart when being worn. 

7.  After removing your wire component from your jig, harden the piece and set the design by either squeezing the piece in the jaws of your nylon jaw pliers or where appropriate by hammering the piece with a chasing hammer and anvil or "soft" hammer like a nylon headed hammer or a leather mallet.  The Wacketdown can be used for larger pieces.  (Do not hammer wire where one piece of wire crosses another.)

8.  Use "hand finishing" with your fingers by eye to make your pieces as similar and consistent as possible.  Make minor adjustments to finish your pieces. 

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