Saturday, November 26, 2011

How To Make Better Wire Jewelry With Ease

When I first started this blog what, a year and a half ago or two years ago, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to take it, exactly which direction, in trying to inspire other wire jewelry making enthusiasts. Well, much has changed since then as I’m now a bit more accustomed to writing as a blogger. Certainly my thoughts on how to make wire jewelry have expanded, tightened up and crystallized a lot in that time.

The one thing that I did realize when I first started this blog was that although I wasn’t certain how I’d impart what I know about wire jewelry making, I was certain that I wanted to help wire jewelry designers learn to do something different and push the limits of their work to find their own originality if I could. That’s a bit of a lofty goal and maybe even a bit presumptuous on my part.  However it’s taken, the point of this blog post is on how to make better wire jewelry with more ease.

In any event, when thinking about all this and this blog, I decided that it might be helpful to share with you all how I think about wire jewelry and how to make wire jewelry because I do think about it most of time. I guess you could say that it’s a very common thread constantly running through my own head. So, I realized that maybe that, actively thinking about wire jewelry, might be a very good focus for this blog. The simple fact that I think about it so much is, I believe, what makes me as an artist able to come up with a lot of unusual or never-seen-before jewelry. Focusing one’s attention is often all it takes to come up with the unique or the unexpected.


Once you start to focus your attention and actively focus on wire jewelry, you may find that you start seeing it everywhere. That’s sometimes how focusing works. You really train your own brain to pick up cues about something that you may have previously missed both visually and sort of psychically. I originally started out by tearing out photographs of wire jewelry that I liked or admired from jewelry making magazines. Sometimes I would cut out a particular wire jewelry tutorial to learn a specific technique. I’ve kept these files neatly organized for years and continue adding to them along the way. This is an excellent way to sort of jumpstart focusing your attention on the subject.

Inevitably as you’re doing this, you’ll start getting your own jewelry making ideas and having a notebook around to record all your ideas is also an excellent thing to do. Now, I, personally, did not do this many years ago to my own detriment. I used to think that I’d remember everything because, after all, it originated from my own thoughts, right? Well, I quickly learned that I can forget them as easily as I can conceive of them so my series of logs and notebooks started building up pretty fast. I write everything down and to facilitate that, I keep my “ideas”  book open and handy at all times in my studio. I even have a dedicated pen that I do not move on top of the latest page I’m adding all the wire jewelry making ideas on.


One of the first things that made me want to make my own jewelry was finding a book on Modernist jewelry from the 1950’s. I love Modernist furniture and have spent years meandering through consignment furniture shops and stores looking for special pieces. It’s been a rather successful endeavor I must say. Being so in tune with that aspect of a clear style of design helped forge my way into wire jewelry making most certainly.

The book that helped me focus on wire jewelry is called, Modernist Jewelry 1930-1960 by Marbeth Schon and is full of the most wonderful jewelry making eye candy. Calder was part of this movement along with several other art jewelry designers that are now famous.

Finding a book like this could help you sort of solidify your own preferred style as a wire jewelry artist and add to the focus that I’ve been talking about. What’s your favorite style of jewelry? Traditional, Modernist, Contemporary? What technique are your favorite wire jewelry pieces done with? See if you can find a book or even several that function as reference books to tighten your focus on your own work.


After you’ve done the above and have settled in to your new ways of focusing your attention and tracking all of that, you might want to also now start analyzing the basic structure of the pieces of wire jewelry that you’re most drawn to. How was the piece built? What’s the underlying structure? Does the piece have a frame that it was built on? Can you figure out what or which technique was used to make the piece? Can you change the basic design? Or make it better, different or more interesting?

Here’s a list of additional questions you might ask yourself when thinking about how you could make your own wire jewelry with some ease and originality:

How can I do it differently? Could I come up with a different, easier or more interesting structure for the wire jewelry?

If I’ve built something with just one wire, what would happen if I used two or three wires instead? Or more? What would happen if you bought a wire jewelry instruction or tutorial for something and you decided to work the piece with a heavier gauge wire instead of the ones used in the tutorial?

If a piece of jewelry is round, could I find a way to make it square or even oval?

If it has a clunky wire clasp, could I come up with a way to make a more graceful clasping or clasping system. Could I make some wire jewelry findings that no one has made before? Or one that I’ve never seen anywhere before?

If the trend is to make round neckpieces, could you instead find a way of making the same piece flat? Could you flatten rounded pieces somehow? I mean without rolling them under your car tires? What if you rolled the piece under a rolling pin?

While I’m sure jewelry designers may work in a wide variety of ways that differ from this approach, thinking and then focusing my thinking in very concrete ways, has been the method that has always been most beneficial to my own work and brings out my greatest originality. This process truly does help me know how to make better wire jewelry with considerably more ease. Twenty some odd years later and I still rely on it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jewelry Making Ideas: How To Easily Get Those Ideas Flowing

I just wrote what I think is a valuable article, especially for beginning wire jewelry designers. The article delineates the actual process that I go thru to come up with new wire jewelry making techniques as well as how I come up with new and I mean, really new, designs for my wire jewelry making.

With so much information available to us today, I do believe that many folks just think they can take whatever they see, mostly on the internet, and just take it as if it were their own. While certainly some of this is innocent, much of it is not and there are artistic copyrights being stolen everyday.

Having said all that, if you want to be considered a real artist, a real jewelry designer, you'll need to come up with your own unique wire jewelry making ideas. This article will help you do that by giving you the very simple but clear method that I've used for years to distinguish myself as a jewelry designer:

One of the Best Ways to Come Up With Wire Jewelry Making Ideas

Enjoy and as always, please feel free to send me your feedback!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Make A Hollow Wire Sugar Cube Bead YouTube Video

I've just put up my first YouTube Video, Make A Hollow Wire Sugar Cube Bead, and you can just CLICK HERE to see it. The video is just short of four minutes long and will show you a variation on one of the best beads in from my book, Make Wire Beads. Just a little trick with the wire, a dowel and a sugar cube is all it takes to make these amazingly gorgeous little beads. Plus, well, it's just fun to make sugar cube beads.

You can also dowload a free pdf copy of the instructions for making this bead at Beadifferent Press. Just go to the site by CLICKING HERE and under free tutorials, you'll find the sugar cube bead download as well as some other free tutorials, thanks.

There's also a review of the 2011 Make Wire Beads book HERE and more information about making wire beads HERE.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Tutorial Site Launched!

Hurray! My oldest website has been completely renovated and is now a full blown wire jewelry making tutorial website with roughly 25 tutorials. These tutorials are now available for necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, earrings, beads and wire and much more. Go to and check it out.

You'll even find some new free tutorials on wire manipulation and making "wibers", strands of thin gauge fiber and wire combined which will allow you to incorporate color/fibers/threads into your own jewelry. Simply download the free tutorial and you'll be on your way! You'll also find this tutorial helpful if you decide you can't live without some of the other tutorials on fiberwire jewelry. More free tutorials will be added on a continuing basis.

There's also a section on "The Beginner's Series" although this is just the beginning of this series. I decided to do a series of tutorials for those beginners who are looking for an alternative to wire wrapping. As a metalsmith, I learned (and taught myself) a different way of learning how to make both simple and complex wire jewelry and that's what I'm aiming at teaching with this series. The first of these "Beginner Series" tutorials is on manipulating wire by making two different kinds of wire earrings: wavey hoops and a wavy long earring using black steel wire that you can get at the hardware store.

With sterling silver at now over $40 an ounce, I'll be focusing my attention on using alternative metals like copper and nugold and even aluminum in a number of the newest tutorials as well.

Now that is finally live, a dream for many years, I'll be working with aluminum (very soft and wonderful material to work with) in both wire and sheet forms. There is so much that I want to teach you all as I continue my wire jewelry adventure!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review of the DVD On Making Fork Jewelry

Another Photo of a Fork Bracelet
I just had an article published called, What Makes Fork Jewelry So Appealing? that you might find interesting. I'll admit that this was a bit of a diversion for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of it. I spent some time researching the history of the fork just because the whole idea of making jewelry from utensils is such a quick way for beginners to learn about making this very fast jewelry.

Learning to make real silver jewelry from forks is viable for anyone who's always wanted to make jewelry. In the process of learning how to say, make either bracelets or necklaces from forks, you also get to acquire some pretty quick but essential metalsmithing techniques. Like polishing and grinding, smoothing out your metal and adding all that shine that makes metal jewelry so appealing.

Since there's no annealing (heating) or fire necessary in the most recent DVD on Making Fork Jewelry, this method of making jewelry is especially appealing for beginners or novices to metalsmithing (making metal jewelry from scratch). There is so much to learn as a metalsmith that it can be overwhelming for quite awhile. Metal just isn't that forgiving and if you make a mistake and put a ding in something, it can take hours to remedy it.

Making jewelry from utensils though helps you avoid a lot of that frustration. I recently had the chance to review the DVD Making Fork Jewelry: How To Make Amazingly Unique Fork Bracelets and Necklaces by Maryanne Cherubino and was pleasantly surprised at how remarkably easy it is to do. In this DVD, Ms. Cherubino deftly walks you thru making TWO fork bracelets and a necklace to boot. The video is only around an hour long and by the time you're done, you have all the knowledge you need to make the pieces. Given the speed of working with already made forks, I believe you could make a few, if not several, within an hour or so. What other beautifully made, complex looking silver jewelry could you make that quickly? and also have it look professionally made? Being able to play off of the intricately designed forks is a sure fire leg up as well as wonderful inspiration.

In any event, there's a quick video on the process that's available to view before you purchase the whole DVD. If you're at all intrigued by the idea of learning to make jewelry from forks, I'd suggest you check it out HERE. I hope you'll be as enticed as I was.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making Fork Jewelry

I've just come across something rather unusual in making jewelry: how to make fork jewelry! While my first encounter with jewelry made from forks was in the 1970's, today's fork jewelry is far more sophisticated and I think, appealing. Back in those hippie days, you could pretty much tell that utensil jewelry was really made from well, kitchen utensils. Nowadays, this type of jewelry making can tell you how to imbed gorgeous stones using the tines of the fork in a flowing kind of fashion. The results are nothing short of amazing! Seeing is truly believing where fork jewelry is involved. I was so excited about this new product that I started a completely new blog about making jewelry from forks.

There's a very short video on exactly how to go about making bracelets and necklaces from forks available here. I've decided to affiliate with this product and as such, do get remuneration should you choose to purchase the DVD although I'm far more interested in providing new and interesting educational resources for my readers. One of my main interests in presenting this to you is that making fork jewelry is a ready entry point for anyone wanting to either learn jewelry making as a beginner or anyone just wanting to expand their skills. Making fork jewelry is relatively simple compared to other metalsmithing projects. It's one of those few art jeweler skills that offers nearly immediate gratification. Now, what's better than that?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Change Old Wire Jewelry Designs with Fiberwire

In one of my books, FiberWire Beads and Jewelry, I coined the phrase, "wibers", which are combined strands of thin gauge wire and fiber. It occured to me recently that I could take several of my older jewelry designs and revamp them using wibers instead of just plain wire. Since I've got a show coming up and need some new, colored pieces to show, fiberwire seems a good alternative for fast production. So I thought this topic would be a good idea for this post.

All of this, of course, depends on the technique you used to fabricate your pieces and if it's compatible with wiber use. One of the primary advantages of using wibers to fabricate wire jewelry is that wibers offer you color from the yarns; an alternative to using colored wire. While there's some lovely fiber jewelry out there these days, my own preference is to use both fiber and metal in my pieces. Somehow the metal seems to give pieces with fiber more legitimacy to me. That may be just me but fiber and metal combined in pieces seem to satisfy my own aesthetic rather nicely.

I have always loved yarns and fibers and am especially fond of the many silk yarns and threads with variegated in the small skeins you can find in needlepoint shops. There you can find a tantalizing array of hand dyed colored yarns and threads that just happen to be perfect for making wibers.

So now let me tell you about making "wibers": You essentially make a wiber by twisting thin gauge wire and fiber together using a vice and a hand drill with a cup hook in it. Or, if you don't have a hand drill, you can use a stick in the looped end of your fiber/wire bundle with the vice at the other end and then twist. Start by cutting an 8 foot length of your favorite fiber. You don't want to use anything "fuzzy" or thick. Starting out with a nice cotton thread, like an embroidery thread would be a great place to start for making your first wiber. Hold on to the more costly fibers until you've got this wiber making nailed.

Next, cut an 8 foot length of a 28 or 26 gauge metal wire like brass (if it works well with your fiber choice) or copper or sterling. Best to start out with inexpensive wires like copper or brass to get a good feel for making the wibers before using sterling or fine silver (what I use mostly).

Next, lay both fiber and wire strands out closely next to one another and then fold them in half together. Now take the end with the loop you've just made (by folding them in half together) and sort of set it aside. You'll need the vice for this part: take the other four loose ends and tie them in a knot and clamp them into your vice. You'll need a hand drill with a cup hook in its end (or a stick) for this part: take the looped end of your untwisted fiber/wire strands and hook it into your cup hook on the hand drill.

Stand back from the vice with the 4 foot group of strands, keep the strands taught, and begin winding your hand drill (or turning or twisting the stick)..........all the time watching your four strands winding smoothly together. Continue to twist until the whole strand of fiber and wire starts to don't want to twist any further than that. Voila! You should now have about a four foot length strand of twisted wire and fiber to use in your jewelry pieces instead of just plain wire.

One picture and it would all clarify nicely but I don't know how to insert pix yet so bear with me. If any of you have trouble with this, send me an email at and I'll send you a little pdf on making wibers. You can also send me an email to that address to receive a free tutorial on making a gorgeous, hollow silver wire bead.