Monday, 26 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild


J I G ?

I often get asked about
the pros and cons of
using a JIG. So I thought
I would share my

experiences and hope
to hear about yours ...

If you've never heard of or used a jig tool for
jewellery purposes, it is simply a grid of evenly
spaced holes (set either on a
square or diagonal pattern)
with separate pegs that can
be propped into the holes to
enable wire to be wrapped around,creating decorative wire units and
motifs that can be used in jewellery

The advantage of using this
tool is that you can re-create
complex wire motifs in duplicate,
ensuring each piece remains
the same shape and size. It

is also recommended for anyone
who finds pliers difficult to

You can make your own jig
by hammering long nails through a block of wood in a chosen pattern. The block can then secured onto a table with a vice and wire can be wrapped around the nails jutting through the wood.
However, there are many styles of jig that can be purchased from bead suppliers (ranging from steel to perspex bases) with removable pegs of different gauges - and these ready made tools provide you with a wealth of experimentation!

as mentioned
earlier, jigs are great
for anyone who finds
pliers difficult to use.

You can re-create
uniform wire units of
the same size and shape.
Therefore, excellent for
earring hangers and
chain units.

As there are many varied
styles and types of jigs on the market,
you will find it difficult to follow printed
pattern instructions, as some are based
on a square grid, whilst others on a
diagonal grid system. Therefore, you
will have to be prepared to adapt patterns
slightly, to accommodate your jig type.

Not only do the grids vary, but also the
size of pegs - so once again, you will need
to check wire measurements.


There are a few key tactics to getting

1. Once you have decided on your pattern, your pegs are set in the required design ... Cut a piece of string or cord (approx. the same gauge as your wire) and wrap it around the pegs, following the pattern. Not only will this re-affirm the design and placing of the pegs, but it will also provide you with the measurement of wire required for wrapping.

2. Once you have cut your wire, ready for wrapping, create a circular loop at one end using your round nosed pliers. Ensure that this loop fits and slides neatly over the first peg of your chosen pattern. This loop will create the anchor to the unit, keeping the wire fixed to your grid.

3. As you wrap the wire around the pegs keep it straight and taught and continually push it down to the base of the pegs in order for the motif to remain reasonably flat and to remove some of the elasticity in the wire. You can push it down using nylon jawed pliers, or a mixture of your fingers and plier tips. If you don't remove any of the elasticity (or "spring") in the wire, you will find that when you remove the wire unit from the pegs, it can spring out of shape!

4. Once you have carefully removed the wire from the pegs, very gently 'stroke' hammer the unit on a steel stake to flatten and work-harden it. Be very careful not to hammer over crossed over wires as this will weaken them - just squeeze them in the jaws of your flat nosed pliers to flatten.

Below, is a gallery of images showing some of the designs that I have created using a jig. I hope they provide you with a little inspiration to have a crack at inventing your own! Please email in any designs (to: that you wish to share and I will place them on the blog ...

These earrings are created out of one piece of wire. The jig tool has been used to form the base design, which has then been removed from the jig, leaving a length of approximately 5cms (2"). The extended length has been threaded with a 'sleeve' of red, coiled coloured wire (created on a Spiral Bead Maker, or the tips of your round-nosed pliers) topped with a silver bead and then the remaining wire, formed into an ear-hook.

The 'clover' units of the bracelet (on the right) are so simple to create and look great on necklaces too!
The matching earrings have been threaded with a bead using the 'working wire' stem, so that the bead is incorporated directly to the 'clover' motif. You could also suspend beads onto the 'clover' ends of the
earring, to produce a more elegant and dramatic design.

This is a great design to experiment with when starting out.
Have a go with 0.8mm copper wire to create your first prototype and if you're satisfied with the result, go on and create a range of pieces, using the motif in-between threaded beads for earrings, necklaces and bracelets!

Above, you will see a simple wire hanging device
for earrings, and a matching necklace pendant. These wire 'hangers' look different and unique when suspended with a diversity of coloured beads in all manner of sizes and shapes.

As jig patterns tend to produce particularly loopy, frilly,
decorative units, you can create a more casual necklace by suspending your jig unit from cord instead of chain.

As you can see in the image above, you don't always have to add threaded beads between your jig units, why not thread the beads directly onto your jig pattern, so that they are completely integrated within the unit ...

Here's the same
pattern (on the left)
but using a different
coloured wire and bead
combination - experiment

to obtain variety!

More variations
and colour

to be
inspired by ...

Also, have a look at for some more patterns, shapes and styles ...



  1. Great work. I have the same jig and was never able to do much with it. You've inspired me though to give it another shot. Thanks for the article.

  2. Hi Lois

    I'm not personally a great jig enthusiast - but for specific styles and designs when you need to 'mass-produce' it's fantastic! So glad the article has inspired you and do send in any images of your experimental results!!

  3. I have a jig somewhere in the depths of my tool box... and like Lois, you have inspired me to dust it off and try out some shapes. My problem before was I only have thin pegs and I found them restrictive with regards to the shapes I could make. I must try and see if I can find a UK supplier who sells the bigger pegs... anyone got any links?

    Thanks Linda for sharing all your 'jigged' jewellery. I particulary like the pieces that have hammered parts.

    Kristin :)

  4. For extra pegs in all shapes and sizes, take a look at

    I hope these will fit your jig! and if you have some success with new, well hammered jig designs, send them on to me and I will compile a JIG GALLERY!

  5. Como fa├žo para comprar o material?