There are many places to buy materials. It can be confusing and intimidating to buy online, so here are a few of my favourites – I’ve ordered from these companies many times over and can recommend their product and customer service very highly. I live in Canada, so if you’re in the US your mileage may vary.
I absolutely, un equivocably, totally and completely LOVE my Lindstrom pliers. Those flush cutters are just a dream to use. However, they’re certainly expensive – at $50+ per pair they’re not for the novice. If you’re just getting started, then a simple set like you can find at Michael’s will do. You’ll want a bent-nose, round-nose, and flush cutters – just be sure the bent-nose doesn’t have grooves. If your hands are strong, these little ones look good!
I used to buy them at Urban Maille but it appears they’ve switched to Tronex and Eurotools. You can still trust Urban Maille – I have Tronex pliers and they are useful but I’ve got a repetitive strain injury and fibromyalgia, and let me tell you – the long-armed Lindstroms are a delight. The next best place to get them, I’d say, is Fire Mountain Gems. But really anywhere you trust, if they carry the Lindstroms, I can’t recommend them enough.
Fire Mountain Gems Lindstroms @ Fire Mountain Gems
Urban Maille The current tool selection @ Urban Maille
My ring mandrel and hammer I both got at Rings & Things. The mandrel is heavy steel and costs could be high to ship; check your local Michael’s first. Try to avoid the mandrel with the grooves, or a plastic one; if you intend to make a few rings it’s worth getting the real thing. I recently got a mandrel that has a 360-degree vise grip so it attaches to the bench; worth every penny.
I’ve actually written a post of tool recommendations on my book blog at http://freeformwireartjewelry.com/wire-wrap-tool-recommendations/ if you’re interested.
Chains & Findings
I tend to make a lot of my own findings – bails and the like – but chain is just beyond my limit of patience; and ear-wires are SO cheap that unless it’s a super-special pair, I usually go with the mass-produced ones. For basic findings, you can’t go wrong with Rings & Things or Fire Mountain Gems.
Oh, beads. My one true love (don’t tell my husband). Beads, let’s face it, are the whole reason I’m in the business. I love buying them, I love sorting them, I love looking at them, I love combining them, I just love them. I buy them in MANY places – often Etsy – but my favourite is a Canadian outfit called BeadFX. Their service is spectacular. And I can’t tell you how many times I got sucked into >$100 orders have free shipping.
I may have mentioned already that I prefer artistic wire to sterling or even plain plated. The best wire, hands-down, for my style, is from a company called Parawire. The silver is 99% pure over a solid copper core with a poly-nylon enamel that keeps it from tarnishing; while their antiqued colored wires make me swoon. Trust me, you can’t go wrong. Frank will hook you up.