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Thread: Tumbler for silver plated wire wraps?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2021

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by radioactivesquirrel View Post

    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.
    Attachment 8688
    Hi. I know this is an old post and you probably have become a pro by now but I thought I would reply with some tips in case someone else is looking for help. I started wire wrapping about 5 years ago in 2018 and then progressed on to doing a little bit of silversmithing. The first 2 years, I started out using the Beadalon brand silver plated German wire and bare copper wire in 20 gauge before moving on to Sterling and fine silver in various forms and gauges. I cannot attest as to whether or not you can tumble the sea glass but one of the other forum members posted that they did tumble sea glass successfully so that's good to know.

    In the beginning of my learning to wire wrap jewelry, rather than buy expensive tools or pliers with nylon jaws, I bought and used the cheapest (under $10!!) set of jewelry tools I could buy and put duct tape over the jaws so it would not mar my wire (silver plated German wire and copper) and it worked beautifully. It just takes some practice working with the wire. As for work hardening the wire, I tumble my ear wires (and many other different pieces) all the time and it does in fact work harden them. I own professional tumblers but since I do not run a business and usually do not have large pieces or quantities of jewelry to tumble, it is more convenient for me to use a small Discovery brand tumbler (it was a gift and kit that included rocks) with mixed shape STAINLESS STEEL SHOT & BLUE DAWN DISH SOAP. The dish soap without citrus is VERY important for lubrication and less expensive than commercial liquid burnishing products. I use my little Discovery Tumbler to tumble every metal that I use which is copper, silver plated copper, 925 Sterling silver, 940 argentium silver, 999 fine silver, and 14k gold filled It WILL and DOES WORK HARDEN ear wires or anything else I make from any of those metals I mentioned. Granted, fine silver is a VERY SOFT metal and really not suited for ear wires so I tumble 999 Fine Silver ear wires for around 6 or 7 hours and gently hammer the curved section. I tumble the pieces that are not fine silver for a couple of hours. Again, I can't speak about tumbling sea glass but I have tumbled items that had cubic zirconia in the setting without any problems. Tumbling ear wires and jump rings is the EASIEST way to get rid of burred ends. I used to used a cup bur or wire rounder on earrings until I discovered it was a waste of time especially when tumbling did a much better job which allows me time to do something else.

    The best advice I can give anyone starting out in wire wrapping, jewelry making, or silversmithing is to test things on a small scale to see whether or not you get desired results. Before I ever started working with pure silver, I purchased a small amount of silver wire in different gauges so that I could get a feel for its malleability/workability. When possible, testing something on a small scale before going all-in has always worked out pretty well for me.

    If anyone survived reading my entire, very lengthy, post, I hope it was helpful.

    Experiment and have fun with it! : -D

    Tammy O
    Last edited by TLOJewelry; 26-06-2023 at 03:29 AM.


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