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Tool Talk Thursday High Temp Wire

I have noticed over time that many folks have questions about what kind of wire to use for firing small hole beads or to put stringing loops into beads and pendants instead of making a hole.  Kemper makes two qauges of high temp wire ( rated to cone5) that are great for these applications. (see picture above)



Use the 17 gauge wire to string beads in your kiln for firing.  It is important to weight these wires down as they do sag.  The higher the kiln temp the greater the sag.  For a cone 06 firing your can even just use a bead tree with just a few small beads or charms and the wire won't sag much.  But the same use in a Cone5 or Cone6 firing will result in disaster i.e. the wire will sag and fall off the bead tree and stick to whatever is in its way as it goes down.
Addendum:  there is also a high temp wire in 14 gauge, not a rod, that is good for firing beads, I am just told, and doesn't sag.  You can buy it at Ceramics Store Inc. It is listed under "kiln supplies."
My source, Spirited Earth, says it works well.
 The  24 gauge stamen wire is great for stringing loops to be fired into pendants.  Here is a wonderful example of a pendant by Miller Porcelain from the BOC Etsy Store that illustrates the use of multiple loops to increase the design potential of a piece.  Most folks use the 24 gauge stamen wire for these multiple loops but you can also use the 19 gauge



Gears Connector  by Miller Porcelain




Above is a picture of a toggle clasp that has a high fire wire stringing loop fused into the stoneware clay.  I can say with certainty that the wire used for this toggle is the 24 gauge stamen wire.

There are many ways to make a stringing loop out of high temp wire.  I use these  looping pliers to form mine so they will be a consistent shape.

You can find High Temp wire at your local ceramic supply store.  A couple of online sources are Bailey Ceramic, and  Big Ceramic Store .

Please leave your comments and questions about your experience with high temp wire.  It will be helpful to all of us.  Thank you!!

22 comments:

  1. Thank you Thank you!! How timely...I'm trying to get my kiln going and was wondering about what kind of wire.

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  2. Really helpful post Mary, Thank you. May I add that you need to leave a reasonable length of wire on either side of the supports otherwise you will end up with a multibead sculpture as I discovered in my kiln this morning! Also, if your beads are heavy, put another support in the centre so the wire doesn't sag too much and they all slide down to the middle.

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  3. I love using this wire in my charms, beads and pendants. I usually just wrap the wire around a bamboo skewer and cut it.

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  4. Thank you Rock Creek Creations for writing in. Glad we are helpful today. Good luck with the firing.

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  5. Caroline, great tip about making the wires long enough. They need that extra length for the little or lots of sagging they do. Glad you made that clear. About heavy beads--also a good point. Marsha Neal Studio suggests putting the heavy ones near the edges. Glad you brought this out. Very helpful.

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  6. Diana Thanks for the tip about using a skewer to wrap the wire around. Simpler than getting out the Looping Pliers or buying a pair. Great idea!!

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  7. thanks for the tip about how to make the loops a consistant shape..
    here in Houston, The ceramic store, inc. has an even heavier gauge hi temp wire that i use for firing,it's tough to cut into lengths, but doesn't sag under the weight of beads.it's a wire not the poles found in commercial bead racks.

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  8. Thank you Nan, I just added that info to the post with a link to the supplier. Great news!!!

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  9. Thanks for the tip on the 14 gauge wire, I will have to give that a try. I typically use the 17 guage but have to be carefull, as it sags really easily at cone 6.

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  10. To suspend my beads for firing I use a gauge 15 that I get at my supplier, I always use kiln furniture not only to hold the wire down and prevent sagging, but also to give more height and continue filling the kiln I have which is a small one. Several layers of different heights for different size of pendants. I always use my round nose pliers to shape the loops in different sizes.

    As always Mary lots of good ideas and sources for people starting ceramics. Thank you.

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  12. Great article; that's a perennial question!

    I learned not to cut the wire; it's very hard on pliers.

    I grab one side of the wire firmly with flat pliers (depends on what I'm making, whether I grab from the coil or the work side) and bend back and forth until my finding-piece releases.

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  13. I fire to cone 6-7 and tried using 15 gauge nichrome wire, after the first firing, it sagged really badly. Now I use Kanthal A-1 16 gauge and have been using the same wire over and over with no problems. It's wonderful stuff! I get it on ebay.

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  14. Thank you Yoli for sharing your experience with High Temp wire. Sounds like that 15 gauge is a good idea. I imagine quite a few of us will be looking into that. So great that you posted and helped us all do a better job.

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  15. Thanks Kylie about your comment on the 17 gauge wire. Your comment is so helpful to all of us. I too am going to try a lower gauge wire and see if it works better.

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  16. Thank you What? for the comment about cutting that thicker high temp wire. I do have one of those extra heavy cutters and didn't think to mention how hard it is to cut.

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  17. thaks Anonymous for your tip about the Kanthal A-1 gauge 16 wire. Very helpful.

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  18. When I need to cut the Nichrome or Kanthal wire, I find that using "memory wire" cutters makes it almost like cutting butter with a room temp knife. Not perfect, but SO much easier!

    Also, the comment about putting the heavier pieces near the edges - should be taken as by the edges of the kiln furniture or bead tree - not the edges - or rather ends of the wire, because that would absolutely sag. I suspend all my pendants from hooks made from 17ga wire from the standard rods that come with the Roselli bead trees.

    Maybe I should add some pics of my Cone 6 kiln firings using bead trees to my glaze post this month? Look for pics on May 20th here on the BOC blog :)

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  19. Marsha, thank you for adding to this discussion. Memory wire cutters, what a great idea. thank you for clarifying about the edges, of course I knew what you meant but I can see it could be confusing. I think we would all be thrilled to have you include pics of your Cone 6 kiln firings using bead trees in your glaze post this month. Thanks so much for thinking of it.

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  20. Thank you all - its one of those questions I needed to find out for use in jewelry (just starting and learning ) I have been using my lampwork mandrels for hanging the beads - 5/32 or larger - I use bolt cutters to cut that large - the mandrels are 318L stainless steel welding rods that come in 3ft long sections- so I cut to the size I need (my mandrels are usually 1 ft long)p I buy a whole tube of them so I have lots around my studio - they do not sag much but I've learned to put a center post to hold them up just to be safe - I would love to see pics of loaded kilns

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  21. What wire would you suggest using to make bead trees?

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  22. If I understand from above then, using high temp wire to make a loop works. I am making a pendant, and want to make a loop (eye hook design) and push it into the top of my pendant to run a chain through. Some have said it might crack. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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