View Full Version : Tumbler for silver plated wire wraps?

20-02-2016, 03:31 PM

I'm a newbie to jewellery making. I've got some 0.8mm, 1mm silver plated copper wire which I've been using to wire wrap sea glass. Whilst I'm not only finding I'm marking the wire with my pliers which working with it which annoys the heck out of me I'm also worried that the wire is still quite soft after it's a 'finished' piece. I'm not up to doing the wire wrapping where you make intricate designs - I've attached an example of the first pendant I've tried so you can see what I mean. The tendrils are still soft and easily moved. I'd like them to be solid. So, could I put the whole thing safely in a tumbler? I'd love to get to use sterling silver wire but I'm not sure if the extra cost warrants what I'm doing with it?

Hope that all makes sense! Thanks in advance.

20-02-2016, 04:57 PM
The short answer is that tumbling won't firm up your wire. As you probably know, ceramic chips might remove plier marks, but also remove the plating.
Actually you get quite a lot of wire for your money, and you have probably learned not to mark wire as much, so why not try using sterling? I think your work well merits using better wire. It could also be a little thinner in medium hard.

20-02-2016, 05:19 PM
Thank you Dennis for your reply. I didn't know about ceramic chips so will have a look at that and appreciate your comments about my pendant. At least if I was using sterling silver I could use ceramic chips to remove the odd plier mark, I'll be a bit more scientific on the next one I do and make note of how much wire I use and cost it out. I have no idea what they'd possibly sell for if they were in sterling (or what I'd sell them for at a craft market as they currently stand for that matter).

Thanks again.

20-02-2016, 05:36 PM
Well Jen, I had just returned to my computer to post this after-thought. Skilled wrappers aim not to mark the wire in the first place, by turning the wire rather than the pliers and gripping very gently.

You can also buy clear plastic tubing to fit one beak, which helps no end. Your local ironmonger or hardware shop should have a range of sizes. thatm way any marks can be kept on the inside of the coil. dennis.

20-02-2016, 08:42 PM
Hi Jen. I occasionally wrap things and when I do I either use pure copper or sterling silver. You can get far better, higher quality results using sterling or uncoated copper rather than coated wires. It is also regarded as a quality product by potential customers too. Also you can practice using copper wire to wrap with for very little cost. Micromesh sheets or pads are very good at removing any marks that have been made by your pliers. As Dennis says though, its better not to have the marks there in the first place. As for work hardening the wire, if you use a high diameter wire, say 1.2mm upwards it will harden by the action of wrapping. Copper is also sold in 1.6mm diameter and is pretty hard already, but still malleable enough to be wrapped. Good luck with practicing.

20-02-2016, 11:01 PM
I would be a little wary of tumbling seaglass, as you are bound to alter the texture and look of it. How much will depend on your media and length of tumbling. There are lot of people selling tumbled glass as genuine seaglass, and I would hate for anyone to think that about a piece made using the real deal!

21-02-2016, 07:20 AM
I use a tumbler to tumble everything I make, including rings etc with semi precious stones in, I have tumbled a wire wrap seaglass pendant without any problems set in sterling wire. I dont have ceramic chips though, mine are steel (I think). My daughter has a tumbler exactly the same as mine and bought complete from the same place and her shot marks flat silver, but for some reason mine doesnt.

21-02-2016, 09:47 PM
Sorry Pat, I should have made that a bit clearer - I was referring to tumbling with ceramics, as mentioned in the original post. I can't imagine steel shot would do too much to it if the pins are removed.

01-03-2016, 04:49 PM
You could try and harden the wire a little before you use it by pulling it though your thumb and forefinger and putting a slight bend through it, or you could try and re-coil it on a slightly tighter reel, if you bought it on a reel. You can wrap some masking tape around your pliers to soften the edge a bit, or you might find nylon jawed pliers work for you. You should be able to firm up the tendrils by waggling or twisting them a bit with your fingers.

29-03-2016, 01:54 PM
Thank you to everyone who has replied to my post. I'm getting a lot better at not marking the wire (I started off wrapping some tape round my pliers whilst I was still practicing!) but still not managed to progress into using sterling wire! I'm sure it's just a confidence thing as I'm not believing my pieces are good enough to be sold for enough money to warrant using sterling silver (if that makes sense!). I have bought a small hide mallet that I've started to use on the 'tails' of the wire before I start curling them. It seems to help stiffen them up so they're less fragile as a finished piece. Took a couple of bits to a craft market last month and they sold well - even though I think I'd priced them far too cheaply, but they got a good reception so it's spurred me on to do more work with the glass and have a Spring Fair booked in May to force me to get on with it...

Thanks again. Jen