Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wire Leads - I Just Follow

My first love, making jewelry, has always been bending wire. I love how capricious it all is.  I love that you can have an idea of where you want to go - and how you can end up in an entirely different destination. This piece started life as a large coil and I really didn't like where we were going - so I started bending and twisting  
and I ended up with this interesting piece, which I then oxidized and polished, added that turquoise bead and the chain, and we had a great necklace.  But, remember where I started - a coil, and the end result is certainly a far cry from a symetrical coil and that's why I love working with wire.

I have been so dissappointed with the majority of the retail shops that carry my work, that even though they "Oh" and "Ah" over my copper and silver work, they want traditional strung jewelry.  They all have different excuses for not carrying it. One tells me that their clients don't like copper. Another says that they don't like it. The only places that seem to be brave enough to carry it are the museum gift shops and the "artsy" shops as opposed to the high end boutiques. I have a new "artsy" shop that almost cleaned me out of copper and silver wire work, so I have been frantically creating as I have to visit one of my museum shops and all she wants is copper. This is a western museum and the director likes copper and silver because they are products of Arizona.  I intentionally created the piece below for her.  I knew that I wanted to combine the two metals,
but I had no idea how, what ,where or when. I started with heavy gauge wire and forged it so it was work hardened but still bendable.  I made a frame and the ends to hold the chain. then I added a couple more pieces of heavy wire and one not so heavy.  This front piece was begging to have silver coiled around it and it did come out very nicely, if I do say so myself.

I wish that metals had not gotten so expensive in the last few months.  I would love to do several of these pieces in sterling silver only, but they would be very expensive for my markets .  I use allot of wire on these puppies and I think that we would be way over $500.00 for an all silver piece.  It used to be that my silver and copper were about the same price because the copper took so much more time for forging, oxidizing and clean up. Silver just always seems to go faster, and shining it up is definitely faster, so the time used to equalize out with the more expensive silver, but not any more.  Silver has been relegated to an accent rather than the main show and I am really sorry that that happened.

As a side note here - this techno-tard is stuck as to why this is working this way when I type. It happened after I added the pictures and I just can't seem to get it fixed, so pardon the centered last lines of my paragraphs.

One of the other things that I love about wire is the colors you can end up with after oxidizing.  I am not a big orange person, so pure copper does not appeal to me...but the possibilities with a little liver of sulfur or heat are amazing and beautiful.  I love the tones on the two necklaces above and they are neutral enough to go with almost anything. You also have the opportunity to take copper to almost black in the background, like in this bracelet, or allot of black like this necklace.

Copper wire, your imagination, some pliers, strong fingers and some liver of sulfur and ammonia can take the artisan to some fantastic places which is only limited by how much wire that you want to use. I have no idea how much wire that I used in the above necklace, but I know that it was hundreds of feet. Just remember that you can't go where the wire doesn't want to go especially if you are working in the heavier gauges.  Have fun with the wire and I think that you will be very pleased with the results.  These pieces or close replicas will be available in my shop in the near future.


  1. It's amazing where wire will take you! Love these! =)

  2. You're going places with this stuff Linda. You never fail to impress with your creativity and your ideas. Congrats and the blog entry is entertaining too!

  3. Amazing work! I've also fallen in love with wire after working with yarn for several years. (I knit with it.) You mentioned using liver and sulfur to oxidize copper, are you going to do a tutorial on that? I think you should!

    Thanks so much for a great post! I found you on Artfire btw. I'm BooJay Knits.