Cloth covered floral wire is used in cake design for wiring large petals on gumpaste flowers and for arranging edible flowers and leaves on cakes. If you’ve ever been utterly baffled by the way wire is sized, here’s a good way to remember it. Picture a very small ring, about a quarter the size of a wedding band. Now imagine sticking cloth-covered floral wire through it. You would obviously be able to fit more smaller wires through it than larger wires. That’s what the wire gauge indicates: the number of wires that would fit in a small ring. So, a wire gauge of 26, for example, indicates that you would be able to fit 26 wires in the ring. A smaller gauge wire, like 18, is a bigger wire, because you would only be able to fit 18 of them through that same ring. The bigger the gauge, the more you can fit in the ring, so the smaller the wire. And the smaller the gauge, the fewer you can fit in the ring, so the bigger the wire. I hope that helps.
Floral wire can generally be found in gauge 16 – 32. I find that use 18 – 24 most frequently. I I always sort of grabbed at wires randomly, until I purchased one of Scott Clark Woolley’s flowermaking DVDs. In it, he outlines the various size wires and their uses. I find it very helpful, so I’m sharing it here.
16, 18: heavy flowers with many petals such as roses, ranunculus, peonies
20, 22: stem work
24: medium flowers, single-cut larger flowers
26: small flowers (individual hydrangea petals, jasmine), petals (such as rose petals)
28: small petals, leaves
30, 32: fine work, such as baby’s breath and small leaves