Memory Wire is a Bracelet-Making Superhero!!!
So…what exactly IS Memory Wire? Memory Wire is carbon steel that has been forged into a coiled spring that holds (“remembers”) it’s coiled shape. It comes in different sizes, shapes, and colors. For purposes of this tutorial, we are focusing on the basics of using Memory Wire for bracelets. However, it also comes sized for rings and necklaces.
So, here’s what it looks like (yeah! A slinky):
It is usually featured as a medium for stringing beads. However, you can also use it with hollow-core leather, or with a combination of hollow-core leather and beads. (You can also wire-wrap it, fabric wrap it, or macrame around the wire.) And, regardless of what you string or wrap on it, you just need to make a loop to finish the ends. For bracelets, it comes in two sizes: regular and large, and two shapes: round and oval. These sizes cover just about every wrist size possible because of the adjustable nature of the coils. My favorite is the oval shape because it’s sits on the wrist so comfortably.
For a long time I thought Memory Wire was a stupid idea. I mean, what self-respecting jewelry maker would cheat like that at getting a nicely balanced bracelet that wouldn’t spin around on a wrist, or drive a person crazy while they try to hook the clasp??? Because, truthfully, if you put a clasp in a bracket that’s easy to hook, it takes up way too much space. A wrist is only so big. You have somewhere between 7” and 8” to cram that great design in and put a clasp on it. And even a small clasp, combined with the jump rings you need to attach it, take up a good inch or so of that 7” – 8”. Not to mention that you’ll probably put a few extra links on it to make it adjustable. And, then, if you put a bigger clasp on it, that really eats into your design space. It also becomes heavy and starts to make the bracelet rotate in the wrist instead of sitting comfortably and minding it’s own business. So, in other words, there’s an “art” to making and sizing the perfect bracelet. And it can be a really annoying “art”….
But, getting back to Memory Wire...
A couple of years ago I had a bracelet idea that defied all of my skills to at properly balancing the bracelet. So, I tried out some memory wire. Wow. First of all…no clasps to take up room in the design. And even if it’s a design with a clasp (for instance a single coil bracelet), the bracelet still holds its shape And sits comfortably on your wrist. Secondly… you can make as many or few, coils as you want and the wholes thing will adjust and sit comfortably on any wrist. And, you can make the bracelet round or oval.
And all you need to do this are two tools. First and foremost – and an absolute must – is a pair of dedicated memory wire cutters. The thing that makes Memory Wire such a superhero is it’s unyielding strength. That also makes it very hard to cut. Hard enough to ruin all of your other cutters. Memory Wire cutters have strong blades that are designed to encircle the wire and cut from all sides, making a nice clean cut every time. So…Memory Wire Cutters are a must.
The only other tool you need is a round nose plier, a multi-step plier, or (my preference) the stocky little Bulldog of pliers made specifically for Memory Wire. The truth here is that any one of these will do. However, I have found that the ones specifically for Memory Wire are compact, strong, and are just better at making loops in Memory Wire.
So, those are the first things you need to know about making bracelets with Memory Wire.
To learn more, check out the following free tutorials:
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