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.