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 colors.........like 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 buckle....you 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 email@example.com 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.