What's It All About?
If you tell someone you want half hard wire and dead soft sterling silver wire for jewelry making... well, if they have never heard the terminology they may just frown or chuckle. That is exactly what happened to me...
I Couldn't Find Wire
When I started with wire jewelry I couldn't find sterling silver wire ready-made. I had to order it from a manufacturing jeweler. I was very specific in my order... including specifying "dead soft" and "half hard" in my written order. But, later I received a phone call from the person who was making the wire. He had never heard of "dead soft" and "half hard"... And, he had a nice chuckle on the other side of the line. In the end he did understand more or less what I wanted.
One way of describing the hardness of the wire in jewelry making is by asking...
How easy is it to bend the wire?
If the wire is soft and pliable, it is dead soft. You use dead soft wire for "soft" bending (not a sharp corner), like for spirals and free flowing designs. If the wire is not that soft and gives some resistance, it is half hard. Half hard wire is good for sharp corner bends and wrapping around itself like a wrapped eye pin. If the wire has even more resistance and the wire is springy, you call it hard.
The hardness of wire can also be described by a number 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The 0 is the softer wire and the 4 the hardest.
Wire Hardness can Change
When I started with wire jewelry I understood that wire became harder when you work with it. But, I never realized that I can make it softer.
Now, the longer you work with wire, the more you discover the magic of changing the hardness of wire!
Why do I call it magic?
The hardness of wire (metal) can be changed and controlled. Some processes make it harder and other processes make it softer... so you have more control! And you start to realize how much you can do with it.
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