Project 106-2
Beading Lesson
Working with Memory Wire


by Katie Hacker
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Memory wire is tempered wire that "remembers" its shape and retains its coiled form. The best memory wire is made from stainless steel and is corrosion and tarnish resistant. It's basically one-size-fits-all and comes in pre-formed necklace, bracelet and ring sizes. You can make designs with single or multiple loops.

To cut loops of memory wire, use shears that are made especially for hardened wire. Do not use ordinary wire cutters because the memory wire will cut into the blades and ruin them. A choker usually uses about 1 ½ or 2 loops.

There are a couple of ways to finish the ends. You can loop them or you can glue an end cap onto the end of the wire. To make a loop, use round nose pliers to grasp the end of the wire, then turn the loop against the natural curve of the wire.

For a more professional-looking finish, use end caps, which are available in a variety of shapes. Place a drop of epoxy or super glue on the end of the wire and press an end cap onto the wire. Epoxy is the best choice because it makes a durable metal-to-metal bond. String a few beads, then spot-glue the last few beads together to help hold the end cap in place. If you use an end cap with a loop, you can add a decorative beaded charm to the loop like this.

One of the hottest trends in memory wire is creating cuff-style bracelets. To make a cuff, glue an end cap onto the end of each wire. Then string beads onto the wire. String a spacer bar onto the wires to hold them in place.

You can also use rubber tubing with memory wire. It's available in different diameters and you can use it to cover the wire, which is a great way to highlight a special art glass bead or unusual pendant. You can also cut rubber tubing apart to use as spacers between beads.

Remember to use memory wire for jewelry designs like chokers or multi-loop bracelets, but you can also use memory wire for other beaded projects where it's important for the wire to keep its shape. Try using the ring size for wine charms or the bracelet size for napkin rings.

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