Friday, 30 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

The Power &
Importance of


Not only does a jewellery
designer have to deal with
colour. All of us make
colour decisions every day -
we constantly choose items
to wear, purchase, eat ... etc,
all of which colour is a
major factor - therefore, if
we understand a few basic
principles, we will be more
informed of its importance
in our lives and when designing.

The Artist Colour Wheel

It is a very complex subject and theory, however
I shall try and contextualise it to relate to jewellery
design. By having a little understanding of the
physiological and psychological effects of colours,
you will be able to be more informed when
selecting beads and stones.

Since ancient times, all over the world, colour
has been used as a belief that good health
revolves around balance and harmony in both
mind, body and spirit - and we can introduce colour
'energy' into our system at times when we are
"off colour" through our jewellery colour themes.

You've all probably had to paint a colour
wheel at some point in an art class at primary school
(see above) where you learnt about:

colours: Red, Yellow and Blue which are
the base for all colours on the artists colour wheel.

: The colour of
fire and blood.
Associated with
energy, war,
danger, strength,
power, as well as
passion, desire
and love.

: The colour of sunshine. Associated with
joy, happiness, intellect and energy

: The colour
of the sky and sea.
Associated with
depth and stability.
Symbolises trust,
loyalty, wisdom,
intelligence, faith,
truth and heaven.

When you mix the 3 primary colours together, you get:
SECONDARY colours: Orange, Green, Purple.

colours: are the 'in-between' colours
created by mixing one Primary to a Secondary.

COMPLEMENTARY colours: are those directly
opposite each other, such as Red/Green, Blue/Yellow and Orange/Purple.
By placing two complementary colours together you will obtain a much stronger visual resonance.

ANALOGOUS colours: Red/Orange and Blue/Green. These colours match, creating no contrast, but provide a serene harmony.

Tints and shades of colour ... any colour can be lightened by white: this is known as a TINT.
The same colour can be darkened by black, known as a SHADE. For instance, red tinted with white becomes pink, but shaded with black becomes burgundy.

When using colour in design, you can create DEPTH, VOLUME, EMOTION, DISCORD, SYMBOLISM, VIBRATION, VARIETY, HARMONY, WARMTH, COLD, FORM ... once you realise the power of colour you can consciously and tacticly learn to use and appreciate it, rather than use it intuitively.

Walking into a bead shop can be a wonderful experience but also slightly daunting, as the choice of colours on display can be overwhelming! Choosing the right colour combinations and tonal blends can add a visual unity or vibrant impact to your chosen necklace, bracelet, or earring design, which is not only always immediately obvious with shapes, styles and textures.

Looking at the artist colour wheel, you can choose to select WARM tones, starting from yellows, oranges, through to red and violet or COOL tones, starting from blues, turquoise, greens and just dipping into yellow, to create a depth of tone and visual harmony.

It is also important to know about interaction, how colours can take on a different vibrancy when placed next to each other - such as complementary colours (e.g. If you place red beads next to green beads, each contrasting colour will become twice as vibrant and vivid than if either bead where placed next to non-complementary coloured beads ... such as purple (just like red poppies in a green field!).

A triadic colour scheme, which involves using 3 different hues: such as Red, Yellow and Blue, or any of the tones that form a triangle on the colour wheel, will also work well together, suggesting a sense of balance.

Try using discordant colour beads together to provide exciting, eye-catching effects. For instance, yellow, oranges and reds instinctively evoke a feeling of warmth, whilst the cooler blues and green tones are generally associated with quieter more melancholy moods, therefore, by placing a red bead at the centre (or off-centre) on a blue based necklace will make the red bead twice as striking and eye-catching! This can help turn it into more of a focal or feature in your piece.

Blending and repeating different tones and hues of the same colour beads can add depth, structure and harmonious unity to your designs. This use of monochromatic tones will provide a uniformity.

Visualise a charm bracelet
with all the same tones of
blue, and now one with a
mixture and variety of blues ...
the blend of tones will optically
create depth (like shading in a picture)
and volume to the structure.

By looking at Nature we can discover perfect blends in flora and fauna, animals, insects, birds and fish. Look carefully at the wings of a butterfly, tropical fish or spring flower and you will discover perfect colour combinations for your designs!

Another way to gain inspiration for choice of beads, stones and colour schemes for new designs, is to look in your wardrobe and see which colour garments you wear most and then choose beads that will directly match and compliment your personal dress palette. If the colours have already blended well within the fabric design (and you can look at curtain fabrics, carpet colours, wrapping paper, etc... as well!) they will work well together again in a jewellery piece.

The other way of choosing beads or stones for colour is through symbolism. When you are faced with designing a piece for a birthday, anniversary, wedding, etc... you can use the BIRTHSTONE colour to decide on your choice of beads or stones:


(Amethyst) - PURPLE

(Aquamarine) - PALE BLUE

(Diamond/Clear Crystal) - CLEAR/COLOURLESS

(Emerald) - GREEN

(Pearl) - CREAM


(Peridot) - PALE GREEN

(Sapphire) - BLUE

(Opal) - Variegated/Multi-Coloured

(Topaz) - YELLOW

(Turquoise) - BRIGHT BLUE

Imagine your wire is your shape, form and line and your beads or stones, your colour palette and 'paint' a picture with each design you create.

Colour is intrinsic to life. It is a lost language that we can learn!

Monday, 26 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild


J I G ?

I often get asked about
the pros and cons of
using a JIG. So I thought
I would share my

experiences and hope
to hear about yours ...

If you've never heard of or used a jig tool for
jewellery purposes, it is simply a grid of evenly
spaced holes (set either on a
square or diagonal pattern)
with separate pegs that can
be propped into the holes to
enable wire to be wrapped around,creating decorative wire units and
motifs that can be used in jewellery

The advantage of using this
tool is that you can re-create
complex wire motifs in duplicate,
ensuring each piece remains
the same shape and size. It

is also recommended for anyone
who finds pliers difficult to

You can make your own jig
by hammering long nails through a block of wood in a chosen pattern. The block can then secured onto a table with a vice and wire can be wrapped around the nails jutting through the wood.
However, there are many styles of jig that can be purchased from bead suppliers (ranging from steel to perspex bases) with removable pegs of different gauges - and these ready made tools provide you with a wealth of experimentation!

as mentioned
earlier, jigs are great
for anyone who finds
pliers difficult to use.

You can re-create
uniform wire units of
the same size and shape.
Therefore, excellent for
earring hangers and
chain units.

As there are many varied
styles and types of jigs on the market,
you will find it difficult to follow printed
pattern instructions, as some are based
on a square grid, whilst others on a
diagonal grid system. Therefore, you
will have to be prepared to adapt patterns
slightly, to accommodate your jig type.

Not only do the grids vary, but also the
size of pegs - so once again, you will need
to check wire measurements.


There are a few key tactics to getting

1. Once you have decided on your pattern, your pegs are set in the required design ... Cut a piece of string or cord (approx. the same gauge as your wire) and wrap it around the pegs, following the pattern. Not only will this re-affirm the design and placing of the pegs, but it will also provide you with the measurement of wire required for wrapping.

2. Once you have cut your wire, ready for wrapping, create a circular loop at one end using your round nosed pliers. Ensure that this loop fits and slides neatly over the first peg of your chosen pattern. This loop will create the anchor to the unit, keeping the wire fixed to your grid.

3. As you wrap the wire around the pegs keep it straight and taught and continually push it down to the base of the pegs in order for the motif to remain reasonably flat and to remove some of the elasticity in the wire. You can push it down using nylon jawed pliers, or a mixture of your fingers and plier tips. If you don't remove any of the elasticity (or "spring") in the wire, you will find that when you remove the wire unit from the pegs, it can spring out of shape!

4. Once you have carefully removed the wire from the pegs, very gently 'stroke' hammer the unit on a steel stake to flatten and work-harden it. Be very careful not to hammer over crossed over wires as this will weaken them - just squeeze them in the jaws of your flat nosed pliers to flatten.

Below, is a gallery of images showing some of the designs that I have created using a jig. I hope they provide you with a little inspiration to have a crack at inventing your own! Please email in any designs (to: that you wish to share and I will place them on the blog ...

These earrings are created out of one piece of wire. The jig tool has been used to form the base design, which has then been removed from the jig, leaving a length of approximately 5cms (2"). The extended length has been threaded with a 'sleeve' of red, coiled coloured wire (created on a Spiral Bead Maker, or the tips of your round-nosed pliers) topped with a silver bead and then the remaining wire, formed into an ear-hook.

The 'clover' units of the bracelet (on the right) are so simple to create and look great on necklaces too!
The matching earrings have been threaded with a bead using the 'working wire' stem, so that the bead is incorporated directly to the 'clover' motif. You could also suspend beads onto the 'clover' ends of the
earring, to produce a more elegant and dramatic design.

This is a great design to experiment with when starting out.
Have a go with 0.8mm copper wire to create your first prototype and if you're satisfied with the result, go on and create a range of pieces, using the motif in-between threaded beads for earrings, necklaces and bracelets!

Above, you will see a simple wire hanging device
for earrings, and a matching necklace pendant. These wire 'hangers' look different and unique when suspended with a diversity of coloured beads in all manner of sizes and shapes.

As jig patterns tend to produce particularly loopy, frilly,
decorative units, you can create a more casual necklace by suspending your jig unit from cord instead of chain.

As you can see in the image above, you don't always have to add threaded beads between your jig units, why not thread the beads directly onto your jig pattern, so that they are completely integrated within the unit ...

Here's the same
pattern (on the left)
but using a different
coloured wire and bead
combination - experiment

to obtain variety!

More variations
and colour

to be
inspired by ...

Also, have a look at for some more patterns, shapes and styles ...


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

SPRING FLOWER - Peridot & Prehnite Sterling Silver
Double Petal Flower Necklace
by Kristin Smith


Just recently, I came across Kristin Smith's
beautiful jewellery and invited her to join
the Guild and feature as our 'Showcase
Artist'. I'm sure you will agree her jewellery
has a beautiful linearity with a combination
subtle silver wire and stunning gemstones ...

She very kindly agreed to do an interview
which you can read below, which has some
great tips and advice for anyone trying to
sell their jewellery designs ...


I've been making jewellery for about two and a half years. The first piece of jewellery I made was a silver-plated charm bracelet from a basic kit that contained beads, chain, headpins and instructions. I have to say, I was was very proud of myself, although it wasn't very well made and the bead charms kept falling off! However, it was that bracelet that started my journey into making jewellery and I was determined to get better.

My love of wirework has some history to it.
When I was at university studying to be a
primary teacher, I specialised in maths and
art. For my final art project, I created pieces
of wall art made from woven and hammered
copper. I was fascinated by the range of colours
created when you heat up copper.

Now, many years later, I have returned to wirework, but this time in silver. I love
bright shiny silver. I love how silver wire spreads out when you hammer it. I love
the way the light bounces off it when you texture it.

Labradorite & Sterling Silver Hammered Swirl Link Bracelet


Initially, I was inspired by other designers, spending hours drooling over beautiful jewellery I found in books and on the internet. There is so much talent out there; it's difficult to be unique.

Nowdays, my designs seem to evolve from the shapes I like. I have a passion for circles. I also love spirals and flower shapes. I am certainly inspired by flowers, but the flowers I create in my jewellery are more like the flowers I used to draw as a child. I suppose that's why I like wirework because you can effectively 'draw' with it.

WINTER FLOWERS - Apatite & Sterling Silver Flower Earrings


I have various online shops where I sell my jewellery and my jewellery tutorials:


I also sell my jewellery in local boutiques, at parties and at craft fairs. I don't do that many fairs, as my weekends are for spending time with my husband and children. The direct contact with customers is great, talking to people and finding out what they like, but it can be a bit disheartening when you come home having made only a few sales after spending a long time preparing your stall and standing on your feet all day!

PURPLE CURVES - Amethyst & Ametrine Coiled Jewel Sterling Silver Bangle

I believe that customer service is paramount when selling. I always aim to be friendly, honest and deliver when I say I will. I have been lucky to have repeated orders from previous customers and often receive requests for customised jewellery pieces.

It is also important to spread the word and get yourself known as a jewellery designer. I have a Blog:

and keep an online portfolio of my work on Flickr:

However, saying this, it can be very time consuming always trying to promote your business and I do have a other commitments (family and work). A lot of my friends don't even know about my jewellery making and are surprised when they find out what I have been doing in my spare time!

REGAL BLOSSOM - Kyanite & Sterling Silver Wire Blossom Frame Pendant


I think my favourite materials at the moment are sparkly gemstones, especially little faceted rondelle beads. I have loads of these in lots of different colours and use them in so many of my jewellery pieces.

WERS - Textured Disc Earrings

I also love working with fine silver clay and enjoy creating different textures. It is such a versatile material and I know that my journey with silver clay still has a long way to go.


Thats's a tricky question to answer ... I think I would have to say my 'Wire Flowers' design because it was one of my first real challenges. It took many attempts to finalise my design. I knew what I wanted the flowers to look like, but I had to find a way to make the petals sturdy with a secure way to hold a bead in the centre of the flower. I have since used this design in many jewellery pieces and have adapted it to make bigger flowers or double petal flowers. This design also became the subject of my first tutorial.

Jewelled Flowers Tutorial

I am currently busy writing my fifth tutorial, entitled: 'JEWELLED FLOWERS'. This will hopefully be ready for sale very soon.

MYSTICAL BLOSSOMS - Blue Mystic Quartz & Kyanite
Sterling Silver Wire Blossom Top Earrings

Monday, 12 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

Don't forget the

at Sandown Park this
Saturday ...
17th April!!

Any Guild member
that wishes to introduce
themselves, can meet
at 12pm near entrance
to cafeteria. Wear a
badge with

for proof of identity!
If, like me, you don't think
you'll have time to create
something artistic with
wire and beads ... all will
be forgiven if you just have
a sticker as a label!

I will be posting up some very interesting and inspiring Designer work sooooon, from our very own Guild members - so keep reading and watching the blog ...


The images scattered around the page are Peruvian
Wire Jewellery
pieces that I purchased very cheaply
and which I thought might have little inspirational segments
for all you wire wigglers out there! Peru is full of Inca heritage
and symbolism and these contemporary pieces embody this ...
I hope you will enjoy studying the images to trigger your own creativity!


The piece on the left has a central
spiral, which, as in most ancient
designs, symbolises the life cycle:
birth, life, death and
reincarnation ...

I also hope to be talking about JIGS soon ...
so if anyone has any questions, advice,
images of jig designs, infact, ANYTHING
relating to wire-jigging ... just email me:

Having studied the Peruvian
pieces, there where a few
shapes that I wanted to
extract. These wire

or units
can be
used in

Below are
some of
the shapes
that I have

Monday, 5 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild


it feels
like the
is slowly

With pockets
of sunshine,
rain (as always)
and spring
emerging ...

I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing Easter break and feel ready
to create designs in brighter colours and bolder themes as the
weather begins to change ...

The little flower pin brooches (above)
are fun to create with coloured wires and can be pinned
onto jackets, hats & berets or even created as table
decorations, wired onto napkin rings, secured onto to
greetings cards ... need I go on? Full step-by-step
instructions can be found in ...

'Bead & Wire Jewellery for Special Occasions'

by Linda Jones
(which can be
purchased on


You can oxidise (or antique) Sterling Silver wire with Liver of Sulphur.
Anyone who's ever done this will know what a smelly process it is, but well worth it once it's been buffed up with either a very fine sanding paper or fine wire wool.

This image on the right shows a
simple 'S' link bracelet that has
been painted with Liver of Sulphur
and then buffed up, leaving the
more recessed areas dark, whilst
the top surfaces regain their lighter

The image on the
left shows a similar untreated bracelet to
illustrate the contrast. If you're interested in having a go, liquid Liver of Sulphur can be obtained from
(Product Code: 998 161).
It's a chemical solution, so use it SAFELY, follow all instructions and keep well away from children and pets.

***I don't endorse this ... but I've also heard ... that you can use black permanent marker pens on silver wire (try this on silver-plated) to get this antique/oxidised effect ... shhhh ... !!

Most metal patination is done with chemicals, however you can create coloured effects using paints. If any of you own my first book:
'Creating Wire & Beaded Jewellery', you will have seen
this verdigris effect which I did on copper wire pieces.

The verdigris effect was created by stippling 2 different hues of green paint with a hard paint brush onto the ready made wire pieces. First you cover the entire surface (on both sides) with the darker green paint, lifting any heavily painted areas off by dabbing gently with kitchen paper. Then, when the dark green background is dry, stipple another layer of lighter green paint and do the same - lift off any paint with kitchen paper ... until you are satisfied with the overall surface effect.

When the jewellery is completely dry and coated on both sides, finish by spraying the entire surface with a clear, matt varnish to fix the paint and prevent it from flaking off. The best way to do this is to create a little makeshift cubicle in an old shoe box and suspend the piece from wires within the box. Also make sure the room is well ventilated when you're doing this. You can buy clear spray lacquer from hobby shops or 'Halfords' (car varnish!)


Quite a few of you asked for the instructions for Ear Wires in the last wirey blog ... so I thought you might be interested in this bead 'bauble' or pom-pom design to use them with! This is also great for a pendant necklace, worn on a cord, ribbon or chain.

If enough you of you are interested in knowing how to create these ... let me know and I shall put together some instructions. Obviously, these will only be available to signed in bonafide Guild followers.