Friday, 24 September 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

Wirewrapped Agate Pendant made by Linda Jones
created under the tuition of Jessica van Zanten
of the London Jewellery School.

Anyone who is creating jewellery to

sell, will now be thinking ahead to
their busiest time of year ... (I hate
to mention the word Xmas so early!) ... but
good planning will help you make the
most of your business.
For supplies,
tools and all resources ... not to mention
inspiration ... don't forget:



The second one this year to be held at
Sandown Park (Racecourse), Esher, Surrey

Take a look at:

for more information and ticket bookings.

I will be there, demonstrating on the BEAD Magazine Stand,
selling and promoting my new book and I can guarantee
you wont be disappointed with the wealth of suppliers -
great for stocking up on all your Xmas jewellery commissions
and presents!


I also want to let you know about the London Jewellery School ...

As some of you will know, I am totally self-taught in wireworking, as
there was no-one around teaching it in the UK, when I started 12 years
ago! However, I have since discovered the London Jewellery School
which is based in Hatton Garden, EC1, set in amongst London's
bustling jewellery quarter.

The school was set up by designer, Jessica can Zanten in 2008
and she has developed it into one of the largest independent jewellery
training centres in the U.K. with 60 different classes to choose from.
Classes range from basic Beading, Metal Clay, Glass Lampworking,
Resin & Silver and traditional Silver Jewellery workshops ...
There's definitely something for everyone, at every level!

Anyhow, the reason I'm telling you this, is that I recently attended a
Wire Wrapping course there, with Jessica as my teacher. I felt after
12 years, I should be on the other side of the table for a change!
My review of the day workshop was 5 star: EXCELLENT!*****

Jessica was incredibly instructive, warm and bubbly and led us through each wire
wrapping technique at a very digestible pace. I was very impressed with the quality
of the semi-precious stones available for wrapping and the choice of square
and half-round copper wire that we were able to 'play and twist' with - previously, I
have only seen these types of wire in sterling silver or gold in the U.K. (although
it's readily available in the U.S.) Hopefully, with the surge of popularity in
wire wrapping here, I do hope these wires will soon become available from
UK suppliers.

I can highly recommend the London Jewellery School for it's workshops and
standard of teaching and I hope to be featuring Jessica on our 'Artist Profile'
very soon, so you will learn more about her and the school in general.

In the meantime, for more information of courses running:

Tel. 0208 693 4195

Earrings I made at the London School of Jewellery workshop under
Jessica van Zanten's tuition


Interestingly enough, MAKE JEWELLERY magazine has just published
a feature on wire and I was commissioned to illustrate how to wire wrap a
basic stone for the magazine BEFORE my session at the London Jewellery
School. Having taught myself and without using square or half-round wire,
it may not be as successful or traditionally beautiful with round wire, but
believe me, it's definitely possible! Below are the instructions that were printed
in the magazine.

It also features how to make my Bib Necklace, Earrings
and Bracelet project on page 56!

Above: Silver wire & Brown Crystal Bib & Earrings set

Above: Bronze Wire & Topaz Czech Crystals designed for
Issue 19 Make Jewellery Magazine

project shown on page 68-69 of 'Make Jewellery'
Magazine Issue 19. This illustrates, if you haven't got
the right ingredients (i.e. square or half-round wire)
you can always improvise with what you have (round wire!).
That's the beauty of designing your own jewellery. Be as
creative as you can - there is no fixed template, rules
or regulations, or codes of doctrines you have to
abide by ... improvise with what you have, using
your imagination to the full and your creativity
and originality will shine through!

Frame Mounted
Black Glass Stone

To make this frame mounted black glass pendant, you will
need: 0.4mm,0.6mm and 0.8mm silver wire, black cord,
masking tape, a cabochon stone. The tools required are
round, flat, chain nosed pliers and wire cutters.

1. Using a piece of string or paper, measure the
periphery of your 'stone' and add at least 5cms (2")
to this measurement: to which you cut 1 length of 0.8mm
plus 2 lengths of 0.6mm silver wire. Straighten out the
3 wires and bind together at three spaced intervals
with a small lengths of 0.4mm binding wire,
keeping the thicker wire (0.8mm) at the centre and
the thinner wires on each side. (Make sure all your
cut ends are on the same sides, as they will all need to
be on the INSIDE of the frame).

2. Cut 3 pieces of Masking tape and stick the centre
of the bound wires to the base of your stone. Using
your fingers, push the rest of the wires around the
outer edge of the stone and tape to secure the wires
to the stone, covering over the bound areas . Push the
wires around the stone, until they completely cross over
at the top .

3. Using the tips of your pliers, bend one
of the 0.8mm wires up, so that it projects
from the top of the stone (this will eventually
be turned into your suspension link). Using
your fingers, wrap each of the other extending
wires around this projecting wire, to secure
them at the top of the stone.

4. Leaving the projecting wire intact, create
small spirals (or shapes of your choice) with the
remaining wires, curling them up to the centre top
and flattening against the wrapped wires underneath.

5. Using the tips of your round nosed pliers
(or chain nosed) pull out the 0.6mm wires
around the front and back of the mount
and between the taped areas, keeping the thicker
0.8mm wire framing the outer circumference of the stone.

6. Once you are satisfied that the stone is well secured
within the mount, remove all the Masking tape and
create a double link with your round nosed pliers with
the projecting wire.

7. The pendant is now ready to be suspended from a cord
chain or ribbon and if it's very plain, like this black glass
stone, create a wire 'S' spiral out of 0.8mm wire and secure
(with Superglue) to the front of the stone for extra decoration.


* When you become confident and more proficient with frame
mounting, you can experiment using more than 3 wires, keeping
2 or 3 around the diameter of the stone - this will also be necessary
for thicker, chunkier stones.

* Experiment with twisted wires around the frame mount to add
extra decoration and detail.

* For extra large stones and irregular shapes, bind in more than
just 3 places on your frame mount.

* To create asymmetric and irregular kinks and lines within your
framing, use the tips of your pliers to twist and tweak the front and
back wires holding the stone.

* Try creating a framed brooch instead of a pendant. Omit the top
suspension link and curl all the top wires into spirals or rosettes and
flatten over the top of the stone and glue or wire a brooch pin to the back.

* Experiment with coloured wires - creating the frame with varying
coloured wires that either contrast, or blend with your stone.

* This framing technique can be used on beads, as well as pebbles,
sea-glass, dichroic glass ... etc... as well as semi-precious cabochon stones.

Here are some more pieces I created a while ago, with left over glass
shards that were given to me by my friend, Irene, who creates beautiful
glass fused plates, candlesticks and bowls ...

(Above: Purple & Dichroic Glass Pendants with Earrings)

(Above: Blue Dichroic Glass Pendants)

(Above: Brown & Dichroic Pendant with gold wire)

(Above: Red Dichroic Glass Pendants)

(Above: Pink Dichroic Pendant ... with added silver
beads at the top of the frame mount).

I hope that's 'food for thought' and
will inspire you to have a bash at
wire wrapping and frame mounting
anything you find, from tumbled
pebbles, to stunning semi-precious

GET WRAPPING!! (... in time for Xmas ...)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

by Sarah's Forge



(a.k.a. Sarah's Forge)


Meet a new member with a wonderfully
inspiring story, clearly demonstrating
to us all:
Read on, to hear how Jackie, against all
odds, has discovered her creativity and
passion in jewellery making ...


I'm Jackie Robinson, a single mum, who wanted to learn about making jewellery. I was reading a magazine about someone who made their own and I actually felt envious! Then I realised that if I was having such a strong emotional reaction, this was something I should be doing! So, I sought out an evening course at a local adult education centre, found one in Silversmithing & Jewellery Design and received some help from the job centre with course costs and my neighbours who had become lovely friends, had my son to play for 3 hours each Wednesday night. In the class, my 'Artisan's' heart was ignited and I found myself making more pieces at home beyond the class projects I was working on. Eighteen months on, I'm still doing that and have had a bash at most jewellery techniques now, through classes and magazine and book projects, with the exceptions of lampworking and metal clay. I'm more drawn to some techniques than others, but I do love wirework - that's why I call my business: 'SARAH'S FORGE' - it's forging and changing metal into something the eye likes to look at - and Sarah (which means princess), is my middle name.

(Above) 'Fairy Lights' Bangle

I've worked in jewellery shops, in retail, but had no formal training in jewellery making, although I've always been creative: making cards, or re-designing my clothes when I was a teenager, or making wedding bags for friends. With the jewellery, I began by using household pliers and an old house brick for soldering purposes, instead of jewellery pliers and a proper firing brick - which I've still yet to get! I even used plastic chopsticks we had lying around the house, to knit wire on when I didn't have any needles and I borrowed library books on wirework and started experimenting at home. Everything had to be done on a budget and jewellery magazines and materials remain my greatest luxury. I fit in the jewellery with being a Mum, working from home part-time and studying an MA in Environmental Anthropology online. I have taught my 10 year old son, Jesse, to solder (with assistance!). He makes films and is great at Fine Art, so he comes up with brilliant designs and I've had some lovely wirework jewellery gifts from him for birthdays!

(Above) Jackie and Jesse at home


Well, when I first began wirework and silversmithing, I became a bit like the characters in 'Close Encounters' who see the mountain shape in their mashed potato - every shape was a potential piece of jewellery: a tendril on a plant, my metal dish drainer ... even the modern chandeliers at Sheffield Lyceum inspired me to make a pair of earrings! I'm also inspired by the delicate forms and shapes in nature, or the combination of certain colours - vibrant purple coloured copper wire with what my friend's daughter calls 'zombie green', or soft mauve with forest-green organza ribbon, or cream vintage mother-of-pearl buttons against a satin deep pink rose ribbon, all on pale pink wire ... the materials themselves can become the inspiration. Materials that you wouldn't expect turning up or combined together on a piece, are always a great starting point and I think wire, beads and textiles are beautiful together.

(Above) 'Knitted Treasure' Neckpiece and Earrings


It's hard to choose a favourite, but one of my favourites are green coloured -copper wire earrings masquerading as blades of grass with a dewdrop glass pearl caught on each blade - the pearl would be glass, freshwater or cultured - it allows for something more couture or just plain affordable. I feel strongly that jewellery should be for everyone. I'm currently creating a line of such jewellery suitable for bride and bridesmaids - it's very delicate and looks like it comes from a fairy glade. The great thing with this wire, is that it changes hues upon being hammered, so one achieves a natural gradation of colour that lends itself to something imitating nature: because it's copper based, but has the coloured coating, it also retains a springy quality when it's hammered too, so it's a little more wearable in some senses, than silver, which as a harder metal, is more rigid. Again, that lends itself to emulation of a natural form. There's a lot of overuse of the word 'organic' in jewellery making but I think people do gravitate to designs that have a 'flow' and familiarity to them. Recently, I've been making mixed-media jewellery - incorporating gorgeous buttons, ribbon, copper and silver chain in the same piece, with an unusual bead thrown in - just mixing it up and having fun! Those pieces are fast becoming my favourites.

(Above) 'Buttons with Love' Necklace


I would give pieces to friends and family for birthdays and Xmas and then they began giving me the odd commission, as presents for their friends and family. I've now had 17 commissions since last Xmas. As far as promotion goes, I got one of those online offers for 'free' business cards, so I used their online design template to create cards, stickers and brochures which I include in the organza bags I provide my pieces in, plus a large banner for summer craft fair tables - although, I've yet to do one of those! - and two large window decals, which I have in our front and back windows. I have to say that I haven't gathered any passing trade from the window promotion and that the best way to get noticed seems to be online and good old 'word of mouth'. I also do discounts for first orders, or more than one item, so it's a good incentive for people to come back to pass my details on to their friends.

(Above) Silver Forged 'Oddment Pendant' on Organza Ribbons

Gosh! That's a toughy! I'd go for designing a mixed media neck-piece for Cameron Diaz or a bangle for Fearne Cotton, because they strike me as both being a bit off-the-cuff in their personal styles and more open to something slightly quirky. For sterling silver wirework, I would love to design for the actress Eva Green (the spy, Vesper Lynd, in James Bond "Casino Royale", the witch Serafina Pekkala in "The Golden Compass" and the princess Sybilla in "Kingdom of Heaven"). She is part Algerian, Swedish, Turkish and Spanish, raised in France, collects religious icons and loves 'simple but elegant' styles. She is also very striking but individual and enigmatic - I'd make a piece that would reflect all those qualities: perhaps earrings? I would love to see my work adorning iconic ears! It probably appeals to the anthropologist in me - I'm interested in styles and jewellery techniques from the ancient world, such as Aztec and Toltec and also Byzantine and how art has influenced European dress and jewellery as in the Elizabethan era. Everything we do in jewellery is borrowed from somewhere else - even where new techniques are being explored - as in working with plastics - you can trace that form back to the Bauhaus, where function dictated form. So it's a really important lesson in not being intimidated by anything anyone else is making - there is room for everyone! Just go for it!

(Above: Bangle based on Jema Hewitt's Eleanor Bouquet Bracelet)


Just for now, to keep making the pieces that make me happy and not to be too competitive with myself. I'm in a different silversmithing class this year and learn so much from my tutors. I had a knitted jewellery set shown in a class exhibition called 'Silks and Silver' at 'Created Gallery' in my home town of Chesterfield last March and it spurred me on to set up a solo exhibition at our library in March 2011, so I am currently busy creating jewellery for that. I would like to have 70 pieces made and so far, I have about 20, so I have some work to do! Whatever I don't sell through that, I will use as starting stock to set up a shop on and I'd like to get my own 'Sarah's Forge' website going through I have an album on photobucket of my recent mixed media pieces and will be adding new pieces to that as I make them. The url is:
Alternatively, 'Google' photobucket, pull down the 'search' option, select 'people' and type in 'elijahstar' (my son's middle names), without the inverted comma's, to see the album and piece descriptions. The same album is also available on Picasa web albums under 'SARAH'S FORGE'. I have also entered the 6 original designs in the Jewellery Maker of the Year 2010 competition that 'Beads & Beyond' magazine are running, so anyone interested in voting for me can got onto the competition page on that website, from September 16th/17th and click on 'Nominate' for my entries:
Prior to setting up my website, I can be contacted for commissions and orders by emailing me direct at:
I can make something personal for the wearer, any materials and colours and will take designs on board if people want to email me images to work from. I ask for payment to made upfront in order to purchase materials and guarantee the receipt of the commission and 2 weeks to complete the piece, along with others that I am working on. As I don't drive, getting to summer shows can be difficult when they're far afield, but I believe there's a grammar school craft fair I could take a stand at. One day I would love to have some of my work on show in a couple of galleries in town and participate in the Derbyshire Arts Exhibition and the British Crafts and Trade Fair ... but we'll see what transpires... I made a decision that commuting each day to do a university degree in jewellery wasn't practical for me as a Mum, aged 47, who needs to be bringing in an income NOW. I have a son who'll be wanting driving lessons in 6 years! However, I still drool like Homer Simpson over doughnuts, when I see a piece of fine art jewellery and part of me wishes I could do that. I know that soldering is not my first love (in fact the air gets very blue in our house when I'm soldering!) so I don't think that painstaking type of jewellery making is for me! I like something that I can see the results for in 3 days maximum, not 3 weeks or months ... Having said all that, if I haven't been whisked off by a knight on a white horse by the time Jesse has graduated from film college, I'm taking myself off to India for a year to learn Gemology at jewellery college there. India is somewhere I've always wanted to go and I love Bollywood films. Stone setting is something I would like to master and my son gave me some stunning blue topaz earrings with an unusual silver setting last Xmas. The jewels were from Jaipur, so the idea grew from that. I know that jewellery will always be part of my life in some fashion and as long as my hands and mind are good for it, I'll be banging away with that hammer, swearing over that soldering torch and agonising over those coloured beads! ... and then I'll hang up the finished piece and just enjoy looking at it, thinking: .... "I made that!".

Above: 'Tea & Roses' Necklace

Friday, 10 September 2010

The WireWorkers Guild


& BOWS !!

With the current fashion trend of
'retro' and 'vintage', B O W S
are definitely in vogue once again.

If you have already purchased my latest book:
'Making Beautiful Bead & Wire Jewellery'

you will have seen my

project on page 122 ...
which can be created in any size
with any coloured wire, decorated
with your choice of focal button or bead.

However, if you don't want to make a brooch,
how about creating a Necklace?

Read on ... and I will show you how:

1. Get together: a hammer, steel block, round and flat nosed pliers, wire cutters, pen
(or similar cylindrical mandrel),
1mm and some 0.4mm silver wire, plus one bead (or button) ...

2. Cut approx. 14" (36cms) length of 1mm silver wire and placing the tips of your round nosed pliers at the centre, wrap the wire around to form a small central loop.

3. Position your pen (or similar cylindrical mandrel)
next to one side of the central small circle and wrap
the wire around to create a larger loop. Repeat on the
other side, pulling the projecting wires down.

4. Holding one of the projecting wires firmly near
the centre, pull it around the outer perimeter of
the loop you have just created and repeat for the other
side. (Don't worry if the outer loop is not very
even ... it will add extra character!)

5. Pick up projecting ends of wire and bring
them around the centre of the double loops you
have just created, stretching and pulling them
around the central loop.

6. Using your flat nosed pliers or fingers
(whichever is easiest) pull and position each
outer double loop upwards - creating more of a
'bow' looking frame.

7. Use your flat nosed pliers to bend the projecting
wires into the 'bow' ends, leaving just enough
wire to secure and wrap around the centre of
the frame.

8. Secure the ends and flatten against the
centre of the frame and spend a little time
shaping the bow, until you are completely
satisfied with the outer framework.

9. Hammer the outer frame on a steel stake or block
to spread and flatten the wire and work harden it.

10. Thread your chosen bead (or button) onto a small
length of 0.4mm wire (approx. 3" - 7.5cms).

11. Secure the wired bead at the centre of the bow
frame and neaten the end.

... and here's what you can do with it!
Create a chain & bead necklace to
suspend it ...

... or wrap the central bead with extra wire
for a focal 'setting'.

Why not wrap and fill the framework with coloured
wire and suspend it from a safety brooch?

Alternatively, try wrapping and adding small
seed beads at the same time ...

and finally ... here are the BOW BROOCHES I created for
my book projects, the red and green ones have buttons wired
to the centre and look great attached to bags, cardigans, coats
and jackets, hats, hair bands and hairgrips .... not to mention cards!

and add your personal flair
and colour sensation!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

I can't believe it's SEPTEMBER
already! but maybe, those of you who have
entertained your "darling"
children all
holiday, are quite
looking forward to the
routine once again and a little more
'ME' time for your jewellery
making ...

So, here's a new project to get your
fingers working: introducing (drum roll, please) ...


Read on, if you want to know how I created them ...

MATERIALS: 0.8mm & 0.4mm silver wire, 2 x 10mm pearl
beads, 2 x earwires.
TOOLS: Round, flat and chain nosed pliers, 12mm cylindrical

1. Begin by cutting 2 x 6" (15cms) lengths of 0.8mm wire.
Place your round nosed pliers at the centre of each length
and fold in half. Straighten the wires out, so that they run

2. Keeping the end of the doubled wire
within your round nosed pliers, pinch
them together around the circular
shaft of the pliers and straighten the
ends, so that they continue to run parallel.

3. Cut a short length (say 3" /7.5cms) of 0.4mm wire and
use this to wrap around the 'pinched' spot to create a
top loop.

4. Separate the projecting wires.

5. Place your cylindrical mandrel by the open wires, pushing
it right up to the top loop (and wire binding) and push and
mold them around the outer edge of the mandrel until they
cross over on the other side.

6. Continue holding the wires firmly around the
cylindrical mandrel and pinch them where they cross over
with the tips of your chain-nosed pliers. Straighten
the extending wires out below.

7. Thread your chosen bead onto the fine binding wire
and position it at the centre of the frame. Secure the beads
within the frames, by wrapping the binding wire at the
base of the beads. Cut off any excess and neaten the ends.

8. Create spirals on the ends of each projecting
wire, curling them in opposite directions.
(*Don't spiral right up to the bead - leave a
small gap to enable you to fold them over the
top surface of each bead*).

9. Press the spirals over each side of the bead.
One on the front and one over the back. Now,
using your fingers (and finger nails!) spend a little
time adjusting the spirals and flattening them
over the surface.

10. Connect onto ear wires and they are ready
for wearing!

Here are a couple more variations on this theme
to get your creative wire-juices flowing:

(Above) Here are the Beadpodrings created as in the

project, but using coloured binding wire to match the
beads. Why not create something a little more funky
with bright coloured beads and clashing wire colours?

... or try making
a matching PENDANT
for your earrings.

This is done by flattening
only one of the spirals
over the surface of the
bead. The other is kept
extended, so that a
pendant drop bead can
be attached.

... and here's
another PENDANT design, created
just like the ear-pod project, but using a larger bead
and frame,
suspended from one of my spiral bails.

(Below) If you wish to make a bracelet or necklace, you can
flatten one spiral over the bead and extend the other
to create a bead link ...

... and here's the BRACELET that I made with my

half-pod beads ...

... and finally, for all you wire purists ... using the same

wire method and madness ... here's a simple chain link
system - very 'Celtic' in it's curly-wurlyness ...

(Above) Celtic Spiral Bracelet



I've recently had a member enquire about:


Has anyone ever purchased them? and are they
worth adding to your tool collection?

Comments gratefully received at the end of the blog
or direct to me at: