Memory Wire Jewelry Making for Visually Impaired Artist with Fine Motor Difficulty

by Rena Klingenberg.

Nancy Mac sent in this question:

What is Memory Wire? My sister is visually impaired and also has fine motor problems now after a stroke. She has difficulty now holding the string to make bracelets.

Does anyone know of a “string holder” or any type of assistive device she could use?

She makes beautiful bracelets but needs a steady hand.

Here’s My Reply
for Nancy and Her Sister:

First, here is what Memory Wire looks like:

Bracelet Memory Wire with one coil cut off

Bracelet Memory Wire with one coil cut off

It’s available in sizes for bracelets, rings, and necklaces.

It comes in coils that look like a “Slinky” toy, and you simply cut off as many coils as you wish for your jewelry item.

Then you need to either make a loop in one end of the wire with your pliers, or glue an end cap on one end, so that your beads don’t run off the end of the wire after you string them.

After stringing your beads / components on the wire, you finish off the remaining end by making a loop at the end, or gluing an end cap onto it.

Important: Memory wire is a hard wire that will ruin most jewelry cutters and pliers. So be sure to use cutters and pliers that are made for using with Memory Wire (you can find this wire and the tools for it at many craft stores, bead stores, or with a simple online search).

Examples of Memory Wire Jewelry:

Here’s a lovely beaded Memory Wire bracelet by Tara Myers, made with one coil of Memory Wire:
A Child’s Purple Rose Memory Wire Bracelet.

Here are some multi-coil Memory Wire bracelets by Nancy Vaughan, where she’s used beads as well as pieces of rubber tubing (available from many jewelry suppliers online):
Easy Breezy Bracelet.

Here are some charming Memory Wire ankle bracelets by Kathy Zee:
Easy Anklets that Are Adjustable.

And here are Memory Wire necklaces by Tamara Summers:
Classic Blue Cameo Lace Necklaces.

Memory Wire Jewelry Tutorial:

Here’s one of my tutorials for making a pendant and earrings with Memory Wire:
Memory Wire Pendant and Earrings (Tutorial).

Memory Wire Pendant and Earrings - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Memory Wire Pendant and Earrings – Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Beading with Hand Difficulties:

Here are some beading tips for your sister’s fine motor difficulties (be sure to read all the comments below these posts, where additional tips are shared):

More Resources for Jewelry Artists
with Fine Motor Difficulties:

Here are three more things for your sister to investigate:

Nancy, I wish you and your sister all the best – and give her a hug for me! 🙂

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  1. Ginger says:

    Thank you Nancy for bringing up this subject, and Rena for the great advice. I have a 37 year old daughter who has cerebral palsy. She has restricted use of her hands and is legally blind in her left eye. I have been giving her a box of beads and a beading board to design bracelets for her friends, then I assemble them for her. We use a washcloth on the table where she is sorting thru beads to prevent them from rolling away from her. Any small towel or even a flannel square works. I never thought of letting her try the memory wire! I can’t wait to give it a try! I will still need to put the ends on the bracelets for her, but I know she will have so much more pride in these bracelets if she strings them herself. Thanks!!!

  2. Ginger, you’re very welcome! And thank you for the additional tip you shared. If your daughter would like to show-and-tell about her bracelets, we’d love to see them – you can enter her submission here.

  3. SewMagical says:

    Nancy, much depends on just how much visual impairment your sister has. I am also visually impaired (legally bind in one eye, poor vision in the other). I am able to use a head-band magnifier to see the beads better. Another important factor will be the light level. While it is important for every artisan to have good light, it becomes even more so for those of us with vision impairment. There are a number of fluorescent and other lamps available at craft sewing, and even office supply stores, in many price ranges.

    Hope his helps!

  4. SewMagical, thanks so much for sharing your helpful info about lighting and magnifying! Great tips that will make a difference for visually impaired jewelry artists.

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