Wires, guages and uses
I thought that Id do an article about wires. I often get questions from students who are confused about which wire to use for which flower material or project and so I hope this will help those of you to whom that applies. As a floristry teacher and assessor I must say that its the one subject that students can get very worried about so lets take a look at the options.
Firstly, stub wire which is flat lengths of wire not the type on a reel, is used for one or several of the following reasons:
a) to add length to stems
b) to enable the stem to be anchored or attached to something else
c) to strengthen the stem to avoid breakage, ie support
d) to control the stem or material to be wired. ie to bend and shape.
The basics, with regard to what weight or guage wire to use, is to remember that we dont want to add excessive weight but do want the added strength and support. Natural flowers have a kind of 'bounce' and flowers overwired will lose that and not look natural so the wire should tread that thin line between allowing the natural bounce when you flex the stem but enough support to make it worthwhile. To add to the confusion the weight of wires is often given in 2 different codes, the easiest is when its done in the actual metric size as its easier to visualise, ie 1.25mm is exactly that, its 1.25mm in width which seems very thin but is in fact one of the strongest of the wires, its also known as 18swg. Lets look at the list.
1.25mm = 18swg it is for supporting or mounting the heaviest materials such as the thick tropical flowers, pine and woody stemmed materials, it is commonly green lacquered but also available in the natural steel colour uncoated wire.
1.00mm = 19swg also for heavy materials, twigs, pinecones etc also in the lacquered green at various lengths most commonly 7inch and 12 inch 180mm and 310mm lengths.
0.90mm = 20swg used for a firm support for example, Gerbera, stralitzia, freen coated and mostly used in the above mentioned lengths.
0.71mm = 22swg used for support wiring carnations and other semi-woody stems that are perhaps brittle without support, roses in buttonholes for example.
0.56mm = 24swg slightly more delicate stems, like spray rose or spray carnations.
0.46mm = 26swg finer and lighter and for fressia, soft fleshy stemmed materials that need support and length but not too much weight, useful also for singapore orchid and similar.
0.38mm = 28swg used for support and achoring on leaves, ie ivy, camelia and also the delicate buddy branchlets of delicate flowers like the dendrobium orchid and sprigs of herbs. Usually silver and you,ll see its what i sue for striching ivy leaves in past workshops.
Thinner than the above is usully in reels:
32mm = 30swg 28mm = 32swg and is for bridal work to bind together the 'ingrediants' for your corsages and buttonholes, its usually green but also comes in silver
Remember that you do need to be firm, but not too tight with the wire or it cuts through delicate stems like cheese wire, practise is the only real way to get confident but do persevere.
Wires are always taped with either stemtex tape the stretchy self adhesive crepe type tape, or parafilm which is a more shiny thin plastic tape also used for grafting. Personally I prefer the stemtex as it helps stop items slipping when binding and is a better natural look but its all just down to preference really.
All wires available in the store just ask me if you need something and cant find it, Im happy to list it for you, im found at my store at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/E-Jay-Trading
Im happy to help anytime, and if you are a student or beginner needing something covered on the blog send an email to the above email address with BLOG in the subject line. This guide is copyright and may not be used in any publication without my permission, it is free to pass on without charge as long as reference is made to its source.