Newbie Needs Help With Wire.

Q: I want to make a necklace with 4mm pearls. I want to use wire pins (forming loops on the ends) to form individual links that will gradually create the strand when they are all linked together. The problem is the size of the holes in the pearls and the wire. If I use a regular wire pin it won't fit through the hole. I used a finer sterling silver wire pin that fits through the hole, however, the metal on this is too soft. Where do I find wire for these types of projects? Any suggestions?

A: You can buy sterling wire by the foot in soft, half-hard, and hard temper. The half-hard will probably be best, especially if you're wrapping the wire end around the stem of the loop (which will help keep the loops from slipping out of each other). The fine headpin you used was probably 24-gauge. You won't want to go any thinner than that (the higher the gauge, the thinner the wire). You can get sterling wire from a number of suppliers. I usually use 550 'Silver & Supply' (http://www.metalworks.com>. Many local bead shops also carry sterling wire; their prices are usually higher, but there's the factor of convenience, especially if you're not quite sure what you need and want to buy a foot each of several types to experiment with. The suggestions here are great so far - 24 guage is the absolute smallest I would use, for strength sake, and only if you are doing wrapped loops. Semi-precious beads typically have smaller holes than glass, and 'FW' pearls, even smaller. The other option I might suggest is to buy special drilled large-hole pearls. I know 'South Pacific' usually has them, (www.beading.com) and I believe 'FM' does too.