Playing with Wire


I’ve been fascinated with wire for as long as I can remember.

I love its versatility and strength for jewelry making. You can bend it into shapes, use it for connections and wrap it around beads. And it’s such an accessible form of metal, requiring only a few simple hand tools to manipulate into a beautiful creation.

When I was visiting my son and his family in Albuquerque last November, we visited a LBS, Mama’s Minerals. It was a good thing that Brendan was with me or I would have become lost in the vortex of bead lust, putting myself into extreme debt and not being able to close my suitcase! If you’re ever in Albuquerque in search of beads, I recommend a stop at this amazing store.

Anyway, we had decided to create a bracelet for my SIL for Christmas and it was up to Bren to choose the beads. I love his choice, don’t you? Before he started his quest, I gently suggested beads that had a southwest feel to them and these Saturn jasper beads he chose, in bands of turquoise and brown, are just perfect.

I love the look of the antiqued, coiled wire against the striking banding in the stone.

Shortly after I came home, I picked up Kerry Bogert’s book, Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass Jewelry, at the library and became enchanted with Kerry’s colorful wire designs. I chose the project on page 88, “Framed”, for the bracelet.

You can’t really tell from the photos but the wire coils are made from copper wire and the wire wraps on the beads, as well as the clasp, are made from sterling silver wire. I love the look of mixed metals and silver and copper are my favorites.

This was a great project to hone my wireworking skills, especially for wire coiling. I used a tiny double pointed knitting needle for that job.

I love this design so much that I think I’m going to make a bracelet for myself now! I have the beads picked out already – round coins of earthy Owyhee jasper. This is a great description I came across recently – “soft earthy colors of clay, teal, sage, brick, sand, umber with brush strokes of bark brown”. Wow.  It’s a beautiful picture jasper, mined in southern Idaho/eastern Oregon.

When I was a kid, I owned a well thumbed, dog-eared copy of a pocket-sized rocks and minerals book. I used to pour over that book for hours…I just love rocks.

My Towers and Turrets pendant necklace

Last August I signed up for an online class called “Of Towers and Turrets”, a wonderful melding of mixed media collage with metalwork and resin, taught by Sharon Tomlinson and Deryn Mentock. I wrote about the first step here, creating my collage.

Once my collage was created, I started work on my metal Towers pendant, which taught me about cutting metal shapes, soldering filigree and bezel wire as well as riveting, all new techniques that I was quite excited to add to my jewelry making repertoire.

Once the pendant was crafted, I chose a part of my collage to display. As this was the first face I’ve ever painted, the choice was easy! Once she was cut out and gently placed in my bezel, I carefully covered her with Ice resin, a product I’ve never used before and absolutely love now. It’s tricky mixing it up, adding just the right amount to the bezel and then getting rid of all of the tiny bubbles but the results are so worth it. A desk lamp placed right over my pendant got rid of all of the bubbles very nicely. The heat of the light bulb draws up the bubbles so they can pop.

Once the pendant was complete, I decided to create a necklace using deep purples, reds and blues to bring out the colors in my pendant image. My goal was to create a richly colored necklace full of facets and sparkle.

A queenly necklace.

I chose amethyst, iolite, garnet, pearl, crystal, moonstone and 2 raku beads. I wire wrapped each bead, adding them on one at a time. Creating a necklace in this fashion is very tedious and time consuming but gave me just the look I wanted.

The S-clasp was crafted from a thicker wire and then wrapped with a thinner wire coil and an iolite bead.

It took me 5 months to complete this process but it was an amazing journey that taught me so much about myself.

“The eyes of my eyes are opened.” ~e.e. cummings

Creating more bead soups

As we near the end of September here in southern New England, most of the leaves are still green, however, a faint blush has bloomed, spreading more and more with each passing day. One of my newest bead soup mixes, aptly called Fall Foliage, is inspired by October’s glorious colors, just beginning to manifest.

The flaming colors of Sunset.

I recently received a lovely note from one of my readers, interested in creating her own free-form bracelets. Daunted by the prospect of purchasing all of the beads needed to create a bead soup such as the ones in my photos, she asked for my advice. One of my favorite parts of creating a free-form piece is going through my extensive bead stash and choosing a pleasing palette of various size beads. I offered to create some bead soup mixes for her and I’m happy to report that she was delighted with my offer.

The many colors of the Sea.

I started to give this more thought. Based on how many different kinds of beads, along with crystals, pearls and stone beads that I use for my free-form pieces, one would need to spend between $100-$150 on beads to create the depth and variety of beads in these mixes. Wow. I never really thought about that before.

A walk in Winter Woods under a full moon.

So, here’s my idea. As I love, love, love color and beads, how about if I combine those 2 loves to create unique bead mixes for sale? What do you think?

Creating outside of the box

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. A wondrous experience for me, a person who has often been referred to as a “Rule Keeper”. A person who feels most comfortable with order and organization. A person who likes everything in its place. (except don’t look in my studio right now, lol)

When I first started making jewelry, everything had to be symmetrical. 2 beads over here, ok, so then the same 2 beads over there and so on and so forth.

My, how things change…

I found the mother of pearl circles and the rainbow “dotty” beads at Michael’s and knew immediately that they were destined for each other in a necklace. So, I sat down in my studio one day and started pulling out all sorts of lovingly stashed things from long ago, including this gorgeous Raku donut and beads purchased at a bead show in Watertown, MA.

I challenged myself to make a free-form style, asymmetrical necklace with neither a right side or a left side. Something with a light summery, watery feeling to it. I transformed the focal Raku donut into a toggle clasp by making a bar from 16-gauge copper wire. I’ve been wearing the donut focal off center when I wear this necklace and I just love that.

What do you think?

A Bead Hug

There’s something about encircling an object with beads that makes my heart smile.

Here, let me hug you with beads, beautiful piece of turquoise.

And you, fun piece of extruded scrap clay cabochon.

In my early days of making jewelry, I used to get so involved in a piece to the point of making it much more complex than I actually wanted it to be. I didn’t know when to stop. These days, almost 20 years later, I’m much more into simplicity and creating a piece I can wear everyday.

A bead hug placed on a cable choker or a simple strand of beads that will enhance and not compete with the pendant.

Tomorrow I’m attending my monthly guild meeting so my Saturday Morning Tea will be on Sunday this week.

Enjoy your Saturday!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~ Walt Disney