Rita made me do it

Last July, I wrote about my welcome return to the Rhode Island polymer clay guild here. At that meeting, my friend, Judy, showed us how to create ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) using polymer clay, stamps and paint. I had a lot of fun in the following weeks going off in my own direction with what I had learned that day. I created some painted polymer clay bracelets, very different from anything I had ever created before.

Something else happened at that meeting which also changed the course of my jewelry making.

My guildmate and friend, Rita, brought in a stunning, handmade wire necklace from her amazing collection of jewelry. Rita makes her home in the Washington, DC, area and summers every year on the coast of Rhode Island. She returns every summer to welcoming hugs and smiles all around, to be a part of our group once again.

It’s amazing how something can happen one day that changes everything. Even though I’ve had that experience quite a few times in my life, it constantly surprises me.

As I drooled over her necklace all day, I felt a spark being re-ignited inside of my creative soul, my passion for wireworking, born many years ago during my early days of making jewelry. At that time, I wanted to include crystals in my necklaces but couldn’t figure out how to do that because they didn’t have a hole in them for stringing. As I mused upon that predicament, I happened to come upon a book about wire wrapping at the local bookstore. Being so long ago, I’m sorry to say that I completely forget the author’s name and I donated that book to the library in one of my moves. Anyway, distractions come up in our lives that can pull us completely off a given path so after a couple of years of wire wrapping, I veered off that path to try something else. I’m ecstatic to have found that path once again. It’s like finding a secret garden hidden behind an ivy covered gate, a garden discovered once long ago and secretly yearned for without consciously knowing it.

This necklace was born of my resurrected passion. It’s constructed entirely of copper wire and chain with raku and crystal beads, pearls and a polymer clay focal bead. I dipped it in liver of sulfur to antique it and then polished the wire with fine steel wool.

It’s great to be playing with wire once again…

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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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.