Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wire weaving: "checkerboard" weave

Checkerboard Weave! This is my favorite weave. It is a simple weave that helps build skill and control with the wire. It can be used may ways in design and handles curves well, since there are spaces between the wrapped sections.
* Step 1: Select wires of two different gauges. One heavier gauge wire, which will be for your two base wires, and a thinner gauge wire to do the weave with. Here, I have used 21 gauge square copper wire for the two base wires, and 24 gauge black enameled copper wire to weave with.
* Step 2: Begin by wrapping your the wire you are weaving with around the base wire four times. You will notice I started with the left base wire and wrapped the weave wire in a clockwise fashion. Sometimes it is easiest to set aside the second wire while you do this very first wrap. Then when your are ready to start the first wrap on the second wire, you can add that wire between your fingers. As I mentioned in the previous post, you may choose to hold the wires together with a little piece of painter's tape here at the beginning to stabilize the wires so they don't move around in your hand.
*Step 3: You are ready to add the second base wire. Run your weave wire through the middle, and the back around the outside.
* Step 4: Every fourth wrap will be like a figure 8 between the wires. You will do three complete wraps on each side, and on the fourth wrap, you will cross to the other side. As you are doing this, make sure each time you cross to the other wire, that the distance between the wires remains parallel. Sometimes it is necessary to run the unwoven portion of your base wires through a pair of soft jaw pliers to straighten them again.  If your groupings if four don't seem quite even, gently squeeze them together using your half round pliers (or your fingernails, if you are lucky enough to have them).
*Step 5: Weave to your heart's content. There are many variations that can be done with this weave. Beads can be added in the open spaces as you go. Or, you may choose to do a different amount of wraps on each of the base wires. Just play and have fun!
  If you have any questions about this weave, please feel free to ask. And let me know if  I need to be more clear in my explanations. Thanks!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wire weaving 101

Because so many have asked.

*For your very first weaving, I suggest you use a very large gauge wire that will be stiff and easy to handle for your two base wires. Here I have used 10 gauge aluminum. I have chosen 24 gauge  aqua color enamel coated copper wire so you can easily see the process.

* The direction of the wire when weaving on two wires will be, from the outside, over the top, through the middle, under the back, coming back to the outside, then around the outside and over the top, through the inside and ACROSS to the back of the 2nd wire, around the outside, over the top of wire 2, through the middle, around the outside of wire 2 again, through the middle and ACROSS the back of wire 1, and so on....

* You may want to use a piece of blue painters tape to hold the two main wires in place when you first start the weaving. I always do this if I am starting a piece of weaving where the wires aren't already attached to the piece I am working on.  Once you get the weaving started, you can remove the tape.

* Starting the weaving near the ends of the wire gives you more control from the very beginning. Once you get going, you can gently pull each wire through to get the actual weaving positioned where you want it on the two main wires.

* To keep the weaving even and tidy, push each wrap down so that it is nested right next to the previous wrap. If a wrap looks kinked, crooked, or generally bad, unwrap it and straighten the wire to your best ability. Then wrap again, pushing the wire into place each time. Dealing with a mistake right when it happens is necessary, as it is nearly impossible to go back and fix it later without messing up the wires around it.

*Before I make each wrap, I pull the wire through my fingers to make a nice stiff, straight line before I cross to the other wire. This adds to the tidiness of the overall weave. If you are working in sterling. Try not to overdo it, sterling work hardens very quickly, and trying to weave with hard wire is difficult, to say the least.

* I do all my weaving exclusively with my fingers, not tools. Tools will leave marks, and marks are unattractive.

*When you go to do weaving in a piece of wire jewelry, a common combination is to use 20 gauge wire for your design, and 24 or 26 gauge wire for your binding and weaving. Or, if you are working on something fairly small, you might choose to work with 22 with 26 or 28 gauge, or 24 with 28 or 30 gauge. I would suggest using magnification for your eyes if you are working with 22 gauge or smaller for your main design wire. Particularly, if you are not using contrasting colors of wire.

I buy most of my wire locally now. But, when she is out of what I need, I purchase most of my wire from Fusion Beads. I have tested many different companies wires, and I find that the quality of theirs is outstanding. Here's the link.
Rio Grande is another great source. And if you are interested in metals of special alloys, I suggest United Precious Metals.

*** If you have any questions at all about this basic weave, please feel free to email me at