Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Did you know that Glastonbury has become a very special location
and hub for WIRE CREATIVITY! This part of Somerset, steeped in
history, myth and legend is the perfect place for a creative wire break!

That's what we've all got to do from time to time! Just step off from the
 'treadmill of life"! STOP for a day, preferrably a week and re-evaluate
what life is all about! This is not meant to be a lecture, but a 'shout out' to
anybody who feels they need to nourish their creativity and have a
short break from the humdrum of life's demands! Just like putting healthy,
nutritious food in our bellies, we also need on occasion, to stimulate our
minds with healthy, nutritious, good quality activities ... and this can come
in the form of a ...
Wire Break in Glastonbury!

Learning wirework can sound a bit scary at first, especially if you're a
complete newcomer to the craft! All those tools, gauges and types of wire,
plus complicated swirly, whirly, curly, coily designs!! However, I can
guarantee that a few tools (that fit into a kid's lunchbox), a spool of wire, a
sprinkling of beads is all that you need, plus the motor-skills to tie your
own shoelaces!

The words that most describe the Wire Break experience are:
course ... CREATIVE!

These Wire Breaks have been set up by the loveliest couple you could
meet: Tabatha, who runs the Minerva Bead Shop and her husband, Jim,
better known for his legendary wire wrapping, aka Lonely Soldier Designs.

This year, they have brought together a menu of experienced UK based
wire jewellery artists to provide hands on, intensive week workshops for
all skill levels. I am just one of the tutors taking part and am honoured and
humbled to be amongst this select group of wire artists, such as:

I kick off on 14th-18th March with this one-of-a-kind experience!
But first ...
we need 6 people to make the workshops feasible to run.
So if you want to book yourself a Valentine's gift, or an early or late
birthday present ... don't hesitate to check out the
Glastonbury Wire Studio site now! 
I promise, you won't regret it! The classes are held in the Studio, right
in the centre of Glastonbury High Street in a 17th century building.

Learning skills from 'You Tube' clips, from books, magazines and TV
channels is a good way of picking things up, but just doesn't compare
to attending a 5 day intensive class, where an experienced tutor is there
to guide and help you through, plus answer all your queries. I can
guarantee that it will not only be fun, but you will also skip up two to
three skill levels, as you open your mind to the endless possibilities of
wire, as a creative medium!

If you are wondering what I will offer on this course, below, is a very
vague outline (I can only be vague at this stage, because until I meet 
YOU and find out  what YOU want to learn, only then can I truly tailor-
make the course to suit  all YOUR needs). You might want to learn a new
skill/you might want to find your own unique style as a designer/you
might want to learn how to finish your pieces off more professionally/
you could just want to increase your range of techniques ... ??? You might
even just want a stimulating, creative break to make new friends!!

DAY 1 will cover an introduction to wire (gauges, types), tools as well
as basic techniques, so that I can ascertain each person's skill levels, their
needs and their goals for the course. The basic techniques covered will
incorporate, making clasps, chain links, spirals, coiling, etc... DAY 2 will
cover tempering and work hardening wire, using hammering techniques
(I prefer to refer to this as, Whammer Therapy!).

On DAY 3, I will plan to cover shaping, creating structures and frames
to make beaded pendants, earrings, bangles and rings ... but, this will
obviously evolve around what everyone chooses to learn!

For some it's wire writing, others bead framing or stone mounting
and even ring making:

DAY 4,  will be about flowers, as this is such a popular motif! However,
it will still be open to other possibilities, depending on what everyone
wishes to learn!

The final class will be all about self-expression, putting together
everything you've learned to create a unique, customised piece of
jewellery, or wire sculpture!

I do hope that's given you an insight to what this wonderful Wire Break
experience in Glastonbury in March can offer!
All we need now is  6 people to make this happen! Therefore,
please DO share this with anyone who you think might be interested
in taking part!


Saturday, 2 January 2016

We've stepped into 2016!
Let's all make sure that it's filled with CREATIVITY! 
Because, that can often be a happy safe haven when life throws 
boulders in your path! (I'm talking from experience!)

With that in mind, The WireWorkers Guild (or, Wire Therapy Guild!)
will try and continue to inspire and trigger your fingers to pick up those
pliers and twiddle those wires! So, here's a quick New Year project
to dust off any creative rust that's been settling ...

I've always loved and been fascinated by Egyptian art, their architecture, 
jewellery, culture ... so, I've picked the ANKH, (a cross with a handle,
pronounced: "ank"), which was the Egyptian hieroglyphic character 
known as LIFE! 
It just seemed apt for the beginning of the New Year!

I'm hoping that this tutorial will trigger your own creativity to design
your own one-off piece. If you love wire 'weaving', this could be right up
your avenue ... if you like, 'wrapping', put some stones on it ... if you 
love 'embellishing', well, GO for it! Here's your starting point:

(1) I used approximately 12" (30cm) of 1.25mm copper wire however,
1mm and 0.8mm wire will also be O.K. for slightly smaller pendants.
Once you've cut your length, place your flat nosed pliers at the
centre of the wire and bend each wire upwards, leaving a space
of approximately 1/2"(1.5cm) for the base.
Next, place the tips of your chain nosed pliers about 1" from the base
and bend the wires out (90 degrees) on each side (as shown above).

(2) Using the tips of your chain nosed pliers, bend the wires up on
each side  until they cross over, leaving about 1/2" (1.5cm) on each
side of the base stem.

(3) Place your flat nosed pliers on each side of the projecting wires
and fold back 90 degrees, bringing each wire in towards each other.

(4) Cut about 4" (10cm) of 0.4mm wire and bind around the centre
to secure (don't worry too much about the mess, as you will later
cover it with a focal bead or stone!).

(5) Place a circular mandrel, such as a chunky felt pen, or a ring
stick and wrap the wires around to form a large loop at the top,
crossing the excess wires over on each side.

(6) Find the centre of your unit and bend both wires up at 90 degrees.
Next, trim ONE of the wires down with your cutters, leaving just enough to
form a loop that hooks and secures around the projecting wire at the top of
the pendant.

(7) You don't have to make your bail in this way ... you could just
use your round nosed pliers to create a double link ... HOWEVER, I
have used my Whammer hammer to flatten and spread the projecting

(8) And then, to form the bail at the top of the pendant, place your round
nosed pliers (or, bail maker's) on the hammered wire and form the top
suspension link.

(9) To cover the wrapped wire centre part of the pendant,
cut about 8" (20cm) of 0.4mm wire and attach a semi precious
chip or a bead into the binding (from step 4) and secure. Next,
wrap the rest of the projecting wire around the stone or bead to
create the illusion of a mount setting. * Optional: I also, flattened
and textured my wire with my Whammer on a steel block.

And there you have it! A very simple, wire Ankh pendant,
which you can attach to a beaded necklace, chain, cord,
ribbon, or key ring ...

However, don't let your imagination STOP there! How
about a choker necklace version?

Or, create it in silver wire with a bit of weaving and coiling?
Also, gold wire is perfect for anything Egyptian ...
(and maybe, add a few tiny seed beads from your stash?).

And if you're using copper (or, sterling silver), you can
patinate (or antique) the textured surface by boiling an egg,
cutting it up in quarters and placing it and your pendant
in a sealed container for about 10 minutes, allowing the
natural hydrogen sulphide released during its cooling to
darken the surface.

When finished - I usually give my dog, the boiled egg pieces as a special treat!

You can then buff up the surface of the wire with fine sandpaper,
leaving the darker patina in the recesses. For this version, I also
glued a cabochon stone to the central wire spiral and binding, to
add a little extra detail!

Well, now it's up to you to have a go!

I hope there's enough 'food for thought' or 'wire for your wavelength'
to have a crack at the ancient Ankh pendant design!

Haaaaapy Wireworking in 2016!