Beaded Flower Encyclopedia

Everything you need or want to know about Beaded Flowers

Wire for Beaded Flowers

24 gauge Artistic Wire Colors        26 gauge Artistic Wire Colors

What does gauge mean?

Wire sizes are designated by the term gauge which refers to the diameter of the wire. The higher the number the thinner the wire.

Gauge (AWG)
mm Inches
14 1.80 0.0641
16 1.29 0.0508
18 1.02 0.0403
20 0.813 0.032
22 0.643 0.0253
24 0.511 0.0201
26 0.404 0.0159
28 0.320 0.0126
30 0.254 0.01
32 0.203 0.008
34 0.160 0.0063
36 0.127 0.005

What size wire should I use?

French Beaded flowers mainly use 24 and 26 gauge wire for the petals and 30, 32 or 34 gauge wire for lacing.

If you're following patterns from the books from the mid 1950s use heavier wire, i.e. lower number gauge than the pattern states. The wire made back then was much stiffer and if you use the suggested gauge your petals will be floppy.

For example: If an old pattern calls for 28 gauge, Use 24 gauge Artistic Wire or 26 gauge other brands.

Why are there so many different brands of wire and how do I choose which one to use?

Each brand of wire has a different level of hardness. Some brands have more colors and/or gauges than others. And the price is different for all of them.

Artistic Wire is somewhat soft but comes in a wide variety of beautiful colors. Many flower beaders (like me) want the wire to match the beads as closely as possible and thus Artistic Wire becomes the wire of choice.

However, once your petals get larger a slightly stiffer wire is preferred as it's easier to work with and holds the petal shape better. A large petal in too light a wire will be floppy, hard to shape and probably require a lot of lacing to look good.

If you're making bonsai or ming trees which use a lot of wire, you may want to choose a cheaper brand.

I'm just starting out, what wire should I have on hand?

You'll need green, lots and lots of green. Gold Color, Silver Color, and White will work for the majority of flowers, however, it's nice to use wire that matches the color of your beads.

If you're making a flower that uses continuous loops, such as lavender, use 26 gauge wire as it will be easiest on your fingers. When teaching, I recommend my students use 26 gauge Artistic Wire for those small loops. I bring samples of other wires and let them try the technique on other brands and they're always happy I had them get the 26 gauge Artistic.

No matter what flower you make you'll most likely use lots of 24 and/or 26 gauge green, red and white if you're going with natural flower colors.

Traditionally, gold, silver, green, and red were the commonly available colors. Gold was used for the warm colors, i.e. yellows and oranges. Silver was used for the cool colors; white, blue.

Why is Silver Artistic Wire so expensive?!?

The "silver" colors are more brilliant than the others. This wire goes through the same process as other colors but silver is added to enhance the color.

Can I use the wire I found at my local craft store?

Sure! Just be aware that some of the cheaper brands of wire have painted finishes rather than baked on enamel color. The paint is likely to chip off exposing the bare wire.

You'll also find paddle wire in the floral department. It's usually available in green and silver and usually in 24, 26 and 28 gauge among others. It's stiffer to work with than other brands but is nice (and cheap) for large leaves and petals.

I sometimes have difficulty with stiffness in my hands and fingers due to arthritis and this makes paddle wire difficult for me personally to use. I will be carrying it in the shopping cart soon because it's economical wire for making beaded flowers.

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©2007 Caren Cohen.