Technique Spotlight: Memory Wire!

Before I even knew what memory wire was, I liked the look of the designs it created. The look of stacked bracelets and layered pieces. I also loved the ease of it, you can literally just slip the bracelets on and off (yet they stay on and are super comfortable). Once I started making jewelry, I came to realize that memory wire was a staple supply for jewelry designers and you could make not only bracelets but rings, necklaces, and even things like ornaments and napkin rings. 

So what exactly is memory wire? Memory wire is a steel wire that has been specially cold-forged to hold its coil shape. You can buy it in different sizes with various numbers of coils. The coils are flexible enough to wrap around your wrist or finger, but they do not become bent out-of-shape, even as you stretch them. It’s quite remarkable actually! Memory wire is also nice because it’s one-size-fits-all and there is no clasp, which is ideal for people who sometimes struggle with getting clasps on and off. We have created a whole technique guide dedicated entirely to memory wire; you can check it out Product Guide: Using Memory Wire in Jewelry Making.

I’ve had the joy of making hundreds of jewelry projects (maybe thousands at this point….) and I always look forward to my next memory wire project. I think it’s because it’s a technique that really feels like “playing.” As you pick out your beads, it’s fun to create patterns as you slip them onto the wire. And it really is that easy, you just slide the beads onto the wire in whatever pattern you like – there are no knots to worry about, stitches, needles, or anything else. The only tool you absolutely need is a pair of memory wire cutters since the steel wire is so strong that it could damage regular cutters. Then if you want to finish the ends with what look like little round metal beads, there are memory wire end cap beads. An even easier way to finish the ends is just by creating a little loop with round nose pliers. From this loop you can then hang charms, tassels, or other dangles.

Most beads will work on memory wire. Czech Glass Fire Polished beads are my favorite, as are size 8/0 seed beads and PRESTIGE crystal beads if I want some extra sparkle. I love using bead mixes for variety and then putting in a gold seed bead as a “metal” spacer to match the memory wire. The possibilities really are endless!

Here's a video to help get you started with memory wire. It's one of my favorites! 

Featured Video: How to Make a Memory Wire Bracelet Using Czech Fire Polished Glass Beads

Here are some inspiration projects but feel free to make them your own by using your favorite colors and beads. Enjoy! 

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Comments

Millie Dennis - January 17, 2023

I have a necklace made with memory wire. I can’t find any more like it. They could be made very beautiful. I was wondering if there are any books on that subject? Thanks

Wendy Stevens - January 17, 2023

Just a little tip..use an old pair of round nose pliers for this…using you good ones will ruin the pliers.. Memorial wire is tough. It will destroy a lap plier and even a box plier after so much abuse. And yes, never use good cutters on this material…use cutters specifically for this and keep both old round nose and memory wire cutters, in the same place, stored with your memory wire,, so you won’t even be tempted to use you good pliers. Memory wire is wonderful and makes things so quickly and easily. Think gifts (memory wire bracelet, plus earrings!!) For things like proms, glittery chokers! For casual wear…wood beads! Just be sure not to load projects up with huge beads… bracelets will be too bulky, lose shape a bit. Love this article. My students love doing these bracelets and even little rings!! Memory wire is the bomb!

Trinkets&Gifts - January 17, 2023

I literally just ordered some memory wire this morning then found this in my inbox! How cool! I really like the fact that they don’t need to be sized specifically and I hope you this will be beneficial for selling them online. Thanks for the info and love your examples!

Carolyn - January 17, 2023

Love these

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