Sunday, 29 April 2018


This 'go with the flow of wire' design is an old favourite in my
repertoire!  I often dip back to this technique when I have a
creative block and need to restore my mojo, or when I
want to teach a student how to 'feel' the freedom of letting the
wire flow in a continuous movement, without having to plan,
or get bogged down with structure and perfect shaping.

The starting point is usually colour. One focal bead can be your
muse. Or, look into your wardrobe and chose a fabric that inspires
a pleasant, tonal colour selection.

The shirt fabric above, was my inspiration for this
necklace.  I used the tones of the green and purples
to pick my bead selection and knew, that that palette
and combination of colours would work well together
again, as it had already blended beautifully in the shirt!

Colour palettes and blends can be found everywhere!
Look at wall and wrapping paper, paintings, curtains,
carpet designs, packaging ... etc... We are surrounded
by colourful images, so you don't have to be a great
designer, or colour theorist to create harmonious, tonal
palette blends of beads!

The starting point with the necklace (above) was the large green
jade bead and the orange complimentary colour beads were added
to help boost and enhance the green tone of this feature bead.

Of course, you can play safe and use monochromatic blends
of beads together. For this, if you're making an asymmetric design,
it's important to counteract the balance of the large bead on one side
with a brighter, bead on the other, as shown above.

So, let's get started! It's a great exercise for understanding 'balance'
(proportion of shape and colour) in good design. It's also great for
using up spare beads and it never fails to re-ignite a flagging mojo


My starting point for my colour palette for this tutorial, was
the large rectangular bead that was abstractly patterned with
silver and gold. From there, I picked out a blend of other
beads from my stash, that toned well with that focal bead.


Next, I cut about 10" (25.5cm) of 1.5mm silver coloured
aluminium wire and began by spiralling each of the ends
in towards each other, until I was left with approx. 5" (12.5cm)
of straight wire at the centre.


I then, curved my wire (into a smile shape!) and hammered the
centre to work-harden it, leaving the spirals untouched on either


Using 0.4mm binding wire I began attaching my beads, starting
with the large focal bead and balancing out the colours on
each side. Any excess binding wire was cut off off and the ends
were neatened.

As you can see on the left,
my photo of my wire wrapping
is not very clear! However,
I can describe what I did
and all I can say, is that you
must just:
'Go With The Flow' of the
wire! Let it dictate the
design ...

Here are my tips to help with the free-flow:
A. Cut a generous amount of wrapping wire. I used about 1 metre
of 1.5mm aluminium. If you don't have chunky aluminium wire,
you can use 0.8mm gauge doubled up (so, 2 metres folded in half).
B. Start by wrapping the centre of the wire around the centre of your
base frame. Therefore, attach to either side of the large, rectangular
focal bead. Then wrap the wire around the perimeter of each of the
beads in turn (creating a fake setting or frame), use one end of the
wire for one side of the necklace and the other end for the opposite
side. This helps to avoid creating a lopsided piece.
C. If you run out of wire on either side, you can cut more wire and
secure to the base, leaving a tail end, which can be spiralled and
flattened, creating an additional decorative detail.
D. Once you've completed wrapping the wire around the base
and each of the beads in turn and IF it still looks out of balance, you
can always wire in and integrate more small beads with 0.4mm wire
to add additional colour and impact.

Basically, anything goes!


IF any of your surrounding 'halo' wires are too loosely wrapped
around any of your beads (and I did this deliberately to my large
focal bead to create a more eye-catching centrepiece), you can use
the tips of your chain-nosed pliers to tweak and twist kinks in the
wire. Adding more interest and shape to the overall design.


These protruding kinked ends can be hammered on the edge of
a steel bench block to flatten, harden and spread. Plus, they can be
textured with a ball-pein hammer, or the dapping head of the
Whammer hammer!


Connect a ready made chain to each side of the beaded centrepiece,
or, make your own figure of '8' (infinity) links to create a handmade


Finally, connect your chain links with jump rings to create
the sides of the necklace to the length desired and your
"Go With the Flow" necklace is now ready to wear!

This technique also works well for Bangles! You can use
1mm or 1.25mm wire as the base frame to wire your
bead selection onto and use doubled 0.8mm gauge wire to
free-flow around the beads and bangle base.

The 1.5mm aluminium wire provides a chunky, statement
piece, however, if you want to create a more refined look,
you can twist together 3 or 4 lengths of 0.8mm (20-gauge)
wire to make the base of your necklace and wire wrap with
doubled 0.8mm wire. There are NO rules to free-styling!

You can also use coloured wires to generate more impactful
vibrancy to your designs!

There's just one last word of WARNING ... it's very addictive!
So don't tell me I didn't warn you! So, get your bead stash out
and those wires and pliers and DARE to ...

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