Written by Amy McCarthy
Jewellery making is such a popular craft on Folksy it is hard to know where to start! So I have broken the general bling down into different sub genres and this time is is wire work jewellery. The choice of makers in this section of Folksy is overwhelming, but the two ladies I have chosen to illustrate this craft are wonderfully talented and I hope their experiences will inspire you to have a go yourself!
What is wire work jewellery? What do I need to make it and how do I go about it?
Wire work jewellery is a technique where you create a piece of jewellery by wrapping a maluable metal around itself or a bead/other centre piece. It is a great type of jewellery to make at home because there are relatively few tools needed and it need not be too messy, or require much room as CinnamonJewellery explains, “I use a combination of pliers, my fingers, a chasing hammer and a steel bench block to make my jewellery. I use Sterling Silver and copper wire and a variety of beads. I also use liver of sulphur to oxidise my jewellery. The pliers and my fingers are used to shape and wrap the wire into spirals, swirls and wraps. I use the chasing hammer and bench block to flatten the wire which also helps to work harden it”.
Gimmethatthing adds, “There are really not an awful lot of ingredients in a recipe for wire wrapped jewellery. You need jewellery wire and beads, a couple of different types of pliers and sharp cutters. I’ve been using silver plated copper jewellery wire since I started wire wrapping a year ago, and recently moved on to sterling silver wire, but with silver it’s a matter of one false move and you have wasted a fair bit of dosh! The most important ingredient is the bead, and sourcing great beads is the really fun part, although you can get lost in a bead shop or website for hours.”
Sounds reasonably straightforward, but with so few tools and components where does the inspiration for your work come from?
Gimmethatthing told me, “No one thing inspires me. The obvious thing is the changing of the seasons…. I’m working in dark purple, olive, burnt orange and cream tones for autumn…. My environment affects my work. If I’m stuck inside the house I tend to make more architectural shapes. Whereas if the weather is great and I’m creating bling outside in the lush garden, my pieces are softer and more organically shaped. Nature is a huge influence on me…Marine life can be dazzling with orange and purple stripes splashed with scarlet dots.”
CinnamonJewellery adds, “I love the work of Sharilyn Miller ( a US wirework jewellery maker) and it was her book Bead On A Wire that inspired me to have a go. I love organic shapes – swirls and spirals which I can make with wire and use in my jewellery”.
So what are the highs and lows of wire work?
CinnamonJewellery, “..loves the fact I can make something unique using wire then compliment it with beautiful beads. But because I make most of my own findings and usually oxidise, clean up with steel wool and polish
everything it can be a bit time-consuming, but I think it’s worth it! “
Gimmethatthing told me, “I’d say the biggest challenge is moving out of my comfort zone, by attempting to reproduce something that I’ve seen that uses techniques that I consider to be beyond me. The end result is always completely different from the original item and so I can claim it as my own design….The most rewarding aspect of wire wrapping is when I sit back and look at the work space strewn with offcuts of wire, discarded beads, sweat and tears (not to mention ragged finger tips) and there amidst the chaos are several sparkly and finished pieces..”
How did these talented women learn their craft?
Both are self taught, CinnamonJewellery has, “..been making jewellery for 7 years and taught myself with the help of books and the internet”.
Gimmethatthing found wire wrapping from misfortune, “Summer 2009 I had a riding accident, broke my back and had to focus on sitting down and sitting still, which I’m not very good at…but I found a few basic wire wrapping tutorials online and didn’t find it hard to make a wire wrapped ring or pair of earrings!”
Do you fancy having a go at making your own wire wrapped creations? Where do our makers recommend learning more?
Gimmethatthing suggests, “Have a rummage online for free tutorials, find a basic wire wrapping book, or do what I do and study a piece that you like and try to see how it works”.
CinnamonJewellery adds, “Lots of bead shops run classes in wirework so if you’re interested why not book a class? There’s also lots of useful wirework jewellery making videos on You Tube”.
So there you go, get on the internet, look up some tutorials and why not search for a couple of Folksy supply shops that sell wire work materials whilst you are at it? You might even be able to make some lovely Christmas presents. But if that all sounds like too much work you could just have a browse through these lovely sellers shops!
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