Learning How to Use Memory Wire

Everyone has seen the multiple loop bracelets that bend and expand, then retract like a spring. I was gifted a fun black nugget and gold tubular memory wire bracelet earlier this year that I wear when I am not wearing my own creations.

Until this week I had not ever tried to use memory wire. I guess I am a bit of a snob and thought they were less exciting than bracelets with true closures or toggles and finer materials. Keep in mind I do love my stretchy bracelets so this is a poor attempt at an excuse.

Two weeks ago I was getting the mail at the mailbox when up walked my flamboyant neighbor DARLENE (all caps because she talks REALLY REALLY LOUD). I adore this woman and her sequined, rhinestone, leather wardrobe.

Darlene asked if I could make jewelry “LIKE THIS” and proceeded to show me a simple black beaded ankle bracelet. Upon further inspection I realized it was a memory wire ankle bracelet.

I told her I had never worked with the material.


I told her I would try and added the request to the list of others in my mind to pull out at a later date.

So last week while lollygaggling around in the sales section of my favorite online supplier, Darlene’s voice came out of that far recess of my mind and yelled “MEMORY WIRE!”

So I added a package of 70 spirals of memory wire to the cart.

When it came it went on my bead desk in the hmmmm pile. We all have one or three.

After five days straight of working on Cat and Dog bracelets, I needed a new challenge. So out came the memory wire.

Straight out of the bag, it looks like a thin slinky.

I admit to playing with this for a few minutes before getting serious.

I admit to playing with this for a few minutes before getting serious.

I pulled over my trusty not-made-for-Jewelry wire cutters. I stole these out of my own toolbox five years ago. They get used every day on headpins. I had to push pretty hard to get the satisfying snap of cutting through this wire.

Re-purposing at its best

Re-purposing at its best

I played for a bit with round beads and varying sizes of glass beads. The heavier beads were not working. They dragged the rest of the wire down. I needed something lighter. So I pulled out a strand of fun wooden disks I purchased last month at The┬áBead Strand. Then I grabbed some chips in purple cat’s eye and a rougher green stone that I cannot remember the name of.

Purple, green, colors of grapes I think.

Purple, green, colors of grapes I think.

And then I made my first big mistake. I cut the three loops I had originally cut off in half. Sigh. I was thinking I would just make a bracelet with fewer loops.

This was the result.

Grapes memory Wire Bracelet attempt one.

Grapes memory Wire Bracelet attempt one.

I love the colors. I love the non-pattern from disk to chip. And then I tried it out. I swung my arm in the kitchen to point to something for my husband. The bracelet flew ten feet into the family room. Hmm. Lesson learned…. use more loops.

So I did. I stabbed myself quite a few times while pushing the colorful chips onto the wire. The cut wire ends are very sharp. Halfway through I had to change the pattern a bit. Working on multiple loops it is easy to literally lose sight of the loops hidden below.

The halfway point

The halfway point

I was quite happy with the results. I did the fling your arm test and the bracelet stayed put.

Happy with the results!

Happy with the results!

The part I know I need the most practice with is the loop at start and finish. It is a much harder wire to roll than I am used to and I really had to put some strength into it. I will have to redo the ends so they look less like this.

Need to fix that

Need to fix that

Overall, I am happy I took a chance on the memory wire and will definitely make a few pieces for DARLENE.

What are your experiences with memory wire? Feel free to leave a comment.

Posted in Bracelets, Humor Me, Learning How | Tagged as: Cat and Dog Bracelets, cutting memory wire, jewelry request, memory wire, The Bead Strand, uses for wood disk beads | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Learning How to Use Memory Wire

  1. Lisa says:

    Wow – it does look like a slinky. Sorry you stabbed yourself so many times, but the end result is pretty. I’ve never worn one of these. Does it just slip over your wrist, or do you put it on like putting a key on a key-chain? (DARLENE sounds like so much fun!)

  2. Tracy Rhynas says:

    I have only dabbled with memory wire, I find it quite hard to deal with – the wire is really stiff and tricky to bend! I have a beading friend however who absolutely loves it and sell gazzillions of bracelets, napkin rings, wine glass charms, etc. I think she is now doing Christmas decorations :-) (Darlene sounds like a hoot!)

    • exec3306 says:

      Tracy – it was really hard to work with, yes. I will give it a few more tries when I have spare beading time to see if I can make something worthwhile. And yes DARLENE is a hoot:)

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