Tuesday, 5 April 2011
The WireWorkers Guild
Wendy McLean's Jewellery as featured on The WireWorkers Guild Gallery
Recently, I stumbled across some beautiful and highly
distinctive coiled wirework jewellery by an innovative
U.K. based jeweller. She has kindly agreed to be the Guild's:
F E A T U R E
A R T I S T
and her name is:
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT
INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE JEWELLERY?
I have always been involved with traditional crafts such
as knitting, crochet and dressmaking since I was a child.
I have a scientific background (I worked as a scientist for
15 years) but my hobbies have always involved crafts and
working with my hands. I was drawn to making my own
jewellery, as I had always enjoyed wearing good quality
pieces, but realised that the jewellery I really liked, I could
not afford. Initially, I bought the 'starter packs' for making
beaded jewellery and found that I enjoyed the process of
putting beads together and creating my own original items.
Multi-coloured tourmalines bracelet by Wendy McLean
ARE YOU SELF-TAUGHT OR HAVE YOU ATTENDED
COURSES AND CLASSES?
My own current style of jewellery using wire winding and coiling is a
development that is completely self-taught, starting in 2009.
Subsequent to my initial beading with starter packs, I signed up for
a weekend jewellery course at 'In the Studio' and learned how to do
'repousse' (hammering metal into relief) and make a basic cabochon ring setting
using sterling silver. I was hooked!
I then completed a couple of City & Guilds Certificated Jewellery
evening classes at the Cambridge Regional College (2004-06).
At these classes, I learned many of the traditional jewellery making
techniques including metal piercing, soldering and lots of filing.
From here, I decided to create my own designs, with significantly
less soldering, yet still producing high quality jewellery pieces.
To this day, I am constantly increasing and widening my jewellery
knowledge base through reading books and attending short courses.
WHAT THEMES OR IDEAS PARTICULAR INSPIRE YOUR
I am particularly inspired by ancient jewellery as found in artefacts
from Egypt, other ancient civilisations and European Medieval work.
I am also a fan of modern, contemporary jewellery. I aim to create
a specific look and feel, which largely depends on the wire, gemstone
or pearls that I am using. I lived in South Africa for nearly two thirds
of my life, so some of my designs may also have an African influence.
Shell and natural Agate Bracelet by Wendy McLean
YOU SPECIALISE A LOT IN WIRE WINDING AND
COILING - DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE DESIGN
IN THIS TECHNIQUE?
I have developed several techniques using coiled wire.
At the moment my favourite is the use of a double wire
coil, also knows as bifilar coils. I found a way to manipulate
this to make two of the designs that I entered into the
WWGuild "Spring Challenge".
Pearl and Silver Pendant by Wendy McLean
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU RECOMMEND?
A few pairs of good quality round nosed pliers, bent snipe
nosed pliers, parallel (flat) pliers and good metal wire
cutters, a metal ruler, a rotary power tool (such as a Dremel),
and a wire coiler (for example, a cordless drill, hand-drill or
a hand-held wire coiler). You also need a good selection of
mandrels of various diameters and thicknesses. I have found
that knitting needles (you can get some at Oxfam charity shops!)
make perfect mandrels. You also need plenty of PATIENCE!
Peridot and Aquamarine Earrings by Wendy McLean
HOW DO YOU SELL AND PROMOTE YOUR WORK?
I have held a number of craft fairs and exhibited at Open Studios
over the past 6 years to sell my jewellery, however, it is only
in the last year or so that I have endeavoured to turn my
jewellery making into a business. Currently, a shop in
Stamford sells selected items. I still sell through crafts fairs
and customers can buy directly from me, however, from May
2011 onwards, I hope to open an online shop. For promotion
of my work I use my website:
I also use networking events and social media
like LinkedIn and Facebook to promote.
I plan to use the Internet and other advertising
media much more in the future to assist with
marketing ... and I'm sure a lot of footwork will
also be involved!
Multi-coloured natural stone bead Bangle by Wendy McLean
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES
THAT YOU TEACH?
The workshops will start during the month of April in Nassington,
a lovely village near Peterborough. Essentially, there will be a
short Introductory Course (2.5 hours during the mornings,
afternoons or evenings). Advanced Day Courses will run from
10am to 4.30pm.
The Introductory Workshops aim to teach the basics of working
with wire, beads and tools. The students will be enabled to make
their own wire coils, using only hand tools and a hand-held coiling
gadget. The Advanced Classes follow on from the Introductory
ones, depending on the level of the student's capability and what
they wish to learn. My workshops will not only offer Wire Coiling
Techniques, but also students will also have the opportunity to learn
to make Woven Wire Chains using the Viking Knit Technique
(see image below), plus other wire weaving techniques ...
Viking Knit Bracelet by Wendy McLean
The classes will be kept small to ensure plenty of individual
attention. The cost will also incorporate the loan of hand tools
and a few basic materials which will be supplied. Extra
materials will be available for purchase at each workshop.
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS AND GOALS FOR THE
My short term goals for this year are to successfully launch
the jewellery Workshops, open the Online Shop and expand
my jewellery Business.
In the longer term, I hope to further develop my untapped
ideas and to improve and evolve with my current work,
as well as attend more courses in the trade.
Silver weave cuff bangle with Peridot by Wendy McLean
I am sure you'll agree that Wendy's
work is stunning and we wish her
every success for the future ... !