Monday, October 13, 2014

Jewelry From Our October Retreat

LOTS to talk about in this post...! My Wild Wire Women retreat (October 9-13) went extremely well, and that's because I had such lovely and talented students attending this past weekend.
Pictured from left (above): Lisa, Joan, Donna, Amrita, and Mona. They're standing behind my "teacher's chair" on the first workshop day of the retreat (last Friday), looking fresh and happy and excited about the next three days to come! By the end of our weekend we were all completely exhausted, but pleased with our accomplishments.
Over the course of three days we explored lots of techniques including metal etching, distressing, forging and foldforming copper sheet, torch enameling, a variety of wire wrapping techniques, and making components for jewelry. It's impossible to describe in detail everything we learned, but the following pictures of our work will give you some idea...
First, pictured below are two of Joan's Metallo del Fiore bangles with forged metal pieces, coil-wrapped wire, handmade clasps, and dangling charms:
Joan's foldformed copper cuff is next. She wanted to explore folding metal in different directions as well as texturing and decorating her cuff, and I think she created a beauty:
Joan also made a fun pendant using forged wire as a base from which to dangle a variety of charms, beads, and metal pieces including a copper-tack riveted coin pendant:
We also tackled fine-silver fusing on our last day. Joan made several fused components that she then fused into one large piece which will form the basis for a lovely necklace:
The "Twining Vines" technique was a favorite this weekend. Here you can see what Joan did with her wire-wrapped pendant:
Donna was also very prolific over the weekend, and although we only have a few photos posted here to show off her talent, she also went home with lots more components to make jewelry in her new home studio.
Pictured below, Donna's Metallo del Fiore bangle with luscious beads, textured metal, and wire that was first run through a tube wringer before it was coiled onto a 12-gauge bangle:
I think this must be Donna's favorite piece from the weekend, a gorgeous foldformed and textured copper cuff:
Some fun pieces, including Donna's flower pendant and Twining Vines pendant:
Lisa made lots and lots of textured components to take home with her, but she also finished a few spectacular pieces. Her Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet pictured below looks like it includes a purchased flower motif, but Lisa actually drew and cut out this flower herself, filed the edges, and then textured and shaped the flower. The spiral pendant pictured on the right is attached to a wire component that spins around the flower. A very clever design:
And here is one of Lisa's pretty pendants:
Lisa was quite creative with the chasing tools and small dimpling pliers I had on hand in the studio. She made lots of metal components to use in her jewelry, including the pieces pictured below:
Mona, a jewelry and fiber instructor herself, made a TON of jewelry over the weekend! Pictured below, a Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet that she decided to turn into a pendant:
And here is one of Mona's clever forged wire flower pendants with bead dangles:
Mona's foldformed cuff is absolutely stunning:
And here are some wire components she made using the Jumbo Tapered Round Nose Pliers:
Mona's wire necklace features the Twining Vines technique, Celtic knot links, and a beautiful pendant:
Mona also made Cone Earrings (you can access a free tutorial on these by clicking here) and a gorgeous wire bracelet:
Mona's flower earrings; the flower motif was very popular this weekend:
Here is a picture of the Jumbo Tapered Round Nose Pliers that Wubbers generously supplied my students over the weekend. Patti Bullard very kindly offered them to me at a wholesale price so that I could give each student a pair of these pliers to take home and use in future jewelry projects (thank you, Patti!!!):
Amrita was a delight to teach; like all of my students from this past weekend's retreat, she was very talented, creative, and ambitious to try everything possible in the time we had together. She etched a cuff, wire-wrapped a Metallo del Fiore bangle, created lots of other wire jewelry pieces, and explored enameling:
Here are some more pieces from Amrita's collection, including foldformed earrings, a wire pendant, and some lovely fine-silver fused charms:
One of our favorite techniques was copper tack riveting! Pictured below you can see Amrita's necklace with copper charms riveted to wire links, Celtic knot links, and torch-enameled charms:
Even I was able to make a few sample pieces over the weekend while I demonstrated different techniques using copper sheet metal and wire. Pictured below are two of my bangles featuring textured metal, wrapped wire, and some of my own handmade ceramic beads:
I also made a pair of foldformed earrings for a friend of mine. I have made lots of these earrings but I never seem to tire of this simple design:
Here's a huge S-clasp made from 12-gauge wire on the Jumbo Tapered Round Nose Pliers, embellished with a 16-gauge wire wrapped spiral:
Finally, some funky fine-silver fused heart charms and pendants that I made while demonstrating this technique. The best advice I can give relating to fine silver fusing is to use heavy-gauge wire and to make sure that all of your wire ends connect securely before fusing them! It's lots of fun... but fusing can end in disaster. I guess that's what makes it challenging as well as satisfying.
Obviously we were VERY busy and worked extremely hard over the weekend, but we also had fun, made new friends, and laughed a lot. When we weren't making jewelry, we were eating great food, sipping champagne, and dipping into an endless supply of chocolate! I had such a good time with my students, and I feel sure that we will all stay in touch in the future.
Speaking of the future, this is my last retreat for 2014 and I will be taking a sabbatical from teaching for some time. Taking care of my aging parents has now become a full-time endeavor, so I won't be able to host Wild Wire Women retreats for a while. But I do intend to continue creating fun free tutorials for my blog, which is another way to teach. I hope you'll check back in now and then to see what I'm up to.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oct. 9-13 WWW Retreat: Classes Chosen!

I'm super-excited about the lineup of classes my students have chosen for my next Wild Wire Women retreat to be held in my mountain home in Idyllwild this October 9-13! Here's our itinerary:
Upon arrival on Thursday afternoon, we'll relax with champagne and snacks, visit, and then head off for a delicious dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Early to bed... and the first class begins on Friday.
We're going to spend a full day on foldforming. The cuff pictured above is a complex design (thank you to Louise Duhamel for teaching me how to make big cuffs!), with lots of foldforming, hammering, and texturing with hammers and chasing tools.
It takes an entire day to make one like it, but students also have the option to make smaller pieces such as earrings, small pendants, or pins like the one pictured below:
Sharon Nodelman is the talented artist who made this super-modern foldformed pin during one of my retreats. She not only works in metal and wire, but she's recently started making gorgeous beads with polymer clay. It was an honor to have her in my class!
On Saturday we switch gears, and devote ourselves entirely to wirework. We'll spend the day making as many different wire beads, wraps, connectors (links), and clasps as we can.
I provide copper wire to work with throughout the course of the weekend, but some students have told me they intend to bring some sterling silver wire to make their pieces.
The "Colorful Tribal Necklace" pictured above was made during a workshop retreat held in the south of France back in 2009. This design is one option for our retreat this October; as is the "Fruit of the Vine" necklace pictured below:
A fun "Silver Sampler" bracelet is another option, and naturally it can be made using copper or brass wire instead of sterling silver:
On Sunday we'll explore some new frontier, learning how to successfully fuse fine silver to make wire links, dangles, clasps, pendants, and other jewelry designs. It's not a difficult process, but it does take some practice and it's helpful to have a teacher guide you through the steps if fusing fine silver is new to you. The earrings pictured below are among my bestsellers in my etsy shop, too!
Some of my students have told me they intend to spend all of Sunday fusing their fine silver wire to make jewelry (keeping in mind that I do not provide fine silver wire; students must provide their own).
One of my students has professed a passionate interest in torch enameling, so I'll spend the second half of Sunday teaching her some really basic techniques to get her started. We'll use a torch to enamel some copper charms and use them in a simple jewelry piece. A good basic introduction to enameling, and I provide all the materials and tools necessary.
That's it for the weekend! Three full days absolutely jam-packed with instruction and plenty of time for practice. The retreat includes accommodations in my mountain home, seven meals, use of my studio tools, all the copper wire and sheet metal needed to make the jewelry, and some fun extras as well. I'm really looking forward to this retreat, the last one for the 2014 season. Please be sure to check my blog around October 12 or 13 to see the jewelry we make over the weekend!
For more information on my Wild Wire Women retreats, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FREE Tutorial: Jumbo Hook Clasp!

To make big links and clasps you’ll need two things: big wire and big tools! The jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers are your go-to tool for shaping this lovely hook clasp, which is accented with a simple lined texture made with a small chisel hammer. Follow the instructions outlined below, and in 12 steps you’ll have a beautiful clasp to use in your next jewelry design.
Note: Naturally, the copper hook shown may also be made using sterling or fine silver, or brass wire. I don’t recommend using colored craft wire because the planishing process will split the colorant and cause it to chip off.
Wire flush-cutters suitable for cutting up to 12-gauge wire
Ruler and/or measuring tape
Planishing hammer
Small bench block
12-gauge round copper wire: 4 inches

Step 1: Flush-cut one piece of 12-gauge round wire about 4 inches long:
Step 2: Hammer the ends to thin them down a bit using a planishing hammer:
Step 3: With both ends of the wire hammered down slightly, the wire piece is now ready to shape into a hook:
Step 4: Place one end of the wire near the tips of the jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers. Gripping the wire firmly, bend it around to create a tiny loop. Tip: If this is difficult using these pliers, switch to the classic round-nose pliers and the wire should bend more easily:
Step 5: To tighten the loop further, grasp it in the classic chain-nose pliers and squeeze gently until it closes:
Step 6: Turn the wire over with the tiny loop facing you. Place the wire in the very back of the jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers and hold it firmly:
Step 7: In one smooth motion, bend the wire up and over until the tiny loop almost touches the wire:
Step 8: With the hook facing you, place the opposite end of the wire in the jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers, about one-quarter to one-third of the way from the tips:
Step 9: In one smooth motion, bend the wire up and over until the wire end touches itself:
Step 10: Place the large rounded area of the hook on a small bench block and hammer this area using a planishing hammer. Take your time with this, ensuring that the planished area of the wire tapers smoothly into the rounded area of the wire. Tip: This hammering may cause the hook to open up significantly. If this happens, place the hook on the jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers again and firmly press it back into shape:
Step 11: Use the smallest chisel end of a Wubbers chisel hammer to texture the rounded, flattened area of the wire. Avoid texturing any other areas of the hook:
Step 12: Here is the finished jumbo wire hook, prior to being artificially aged and darkened with liver of sulfur. If there are any rough edges, they can be filed using jeweler’s files or an inexpensive nail file:
Option: The finished hook as pictured at the top of this post was darkened with a hot solution of liver of sulfur, and then polished with 0000 steel wool from the hardware store. Instructions for this process are provided in all of my books and instructional DVDs.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! The hook clasp is fun and easy to make, and can be quite addictive. Have fun with it...
Happy wrapping,

Friday, August 22, 2014

FREE Tutorial: Eyeglass Suspender

This jewelry component is practical as well as pretty: a double-looped wire link that holds your reading glasses in place while you work. You could suspend other items too, whether they’re useful or purely decorative. Try using a suspender to hang a name badge, keys, a jewelry pendant, or anything that needs to be kept handy.
Wire flush-cutters suitable for cutting up to 12-gauge wire
Ruler and/or measuring tape
Small steel bench block
Chasing hammer
Indelible pen
12-gauge dead-soft round wire: one foot
16-gauge dead-soft round wire: six inches

Step 1: Measure and flush-cut a one-foot length of 12-gauge wire. I used copper wire in the sample, but you can use sterling silver, brass, or any other type of wire you choose with the exception of colored craft wire. (Forging craft wire with a hammer will cause the colorant to split and flake off.) Find the halfway point and mark it with an indelible pen:
Step 2: Grasp the wire at the halfway mark in the very back of the jumbo tapered round mandrel pliers:
Step 3: Bend one end of the wire up and one down, pressing the wire firmly against the tool as pictured:
Step 4: Continue bending the wire all the way around the tool as shown:
Step 5: Place the bottom jaw of the tool in the top loop:
Step 6: Bend the wire up and around the tool until both wires are pointing straight up:
Step 7: Remove the tool from the wire. Flip the wire over, and insert the bottom jaw into the top loop:
Step 8: Continue wrapping this wire around until each wire end points in the opposite direction, as pictured:
Step 9: Remove the wire from the tool. This is how it should look at this point; if your sample looks different, retrace your steps and try to redo your link until it resembles the one pictured:
Step 10: Use a chasing hammer to lightly forge each end of the straight wire. Your objective is to slightly flatten the wire, making it easier to bend during the next step:
Step 11: Use round-nose pliers to begin a spiral in each end of the wire:
Step 12: Tighten the baby spiral by pressing it firmly with chain-nose pliers:
Step 13: Place the spiral in the back of the chain-nose pliers and continue spiraling in the wire. Bend the wire in small increments to avoid distorting it:
Step 14: As you spiral the wire in toward the center of the link, allow the spiral to open up a bit:
Step 15: It may be necessary to shift the position of your tool on the wire as you get closer to the double loops in the center of the wire link:
Step 16: Repeat steps 12-15 with the second length of straight wire, and spiral in both ends until they meet at the center of the link as shown:
Step 17: Use a chasing hammer to forge (slightly flatten) the two wire loops:
Step 18: Use a small chisel texturing hammer (or any texturing tool of your choice) to add surface texture to the two flattened loops. Avoid hammering other areas of the link for now:
Step 19: Use a chasing hammer to forge (slightly flatten) the two wire spirals. Take care to only hammer the outer edges of each spiral:
Step 20: Texture the flattened areas of each spiral using a texturing hammer or other tool of your choice:
Step 21: Flush-cut a six-inch length of 16-gauge round wire and bend it in half using flat-nose pliers:
Step 22: Insert one end of this wire through the link and out one of the loops as shown:
Step 23: Bend the wire all the way around and pull it tight:
Step 24: Bend the wire end as needed to insert it down through the loop as pictured:
Step 25: Come back up through the opposite loop:
Step 26: Continue wrapping both wire ends around the center of the link as pictured, making sure that you use both wires equally. It may be necessary to stop now and then and press the wrapped wire with flat-nose pliers:
Step 27: When you have four complete wraps and both wire ends are on the top (textured) side of the wire link, stop wrapping:
Step 28: Begin spiraling in the two wire ends:
Step 29: Use chain-nose pliers to tuck the spiral against the 12-gauge wire link:
Step 30: Here is the finished Eyeglass Suspender. It’s ready to use as-is, or:
Step 31: Artificially age the wire using a solution of hot liver of sulfur. Polish it with 0000 (superfine) steel wool, rinse it clean, and dry it before attaching it to the necklace chain of your choice.
You have many options for the necklace chain itself. You can use silk cording, macramé fibers, a beaded necklace, a commercial chain, or a wire link chain such as the one pictured at the top of this post.
I hope you enjoyed my latest free tutorial. If you need to see wireworking instruction in motion, I have several instructional DVDs available in my etsy shop. Check 'em out!
Happy wrapping,