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 ...

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


Welcome to April! This is going to be a busy month
for me, with lots of workshops to run, plus the wonderful
BIG BEAD SHOW at Sandown Park on Saturday 21st,
which is a must for bead addicts in the South East of
England and anyone who can travel to it!
Also, I'll be designing new kits and demonstrating on
CREATE and CRAFT TV on Thursday 26th at 5pm
with some beautiful BEADS DIRECT materials!
So, instead of a tutorial, I thought I would write about
(with lots of wire jewellery inspiration thrown in!).

Firstly, I will start with a disclaimer ... what I'm about
to say, is definitely not 'set in stone', but merely a guide
to help the decision and designing process! My advice
is to always wear what YOU feel comfortable and happy in!

Jewellery should be a reflection of your personality and
should instantly make a statement about you! (Having
said that, pearls and diamonds generally do suit all women!).

Accessorizing with handmade, wire jewellery is a great
way to not only show off your skills, but your individuality!
It's amazing how it can enhance your appearance and
flatter you when you know how ...

Body type, facial structure, eye and hair colour, length
and cut of hair, as well as clothing, obviously also play a
vital role! When I'm designing wedding tiaras, hair accessories
and jewellery, I often start by looking at the facial shape
of my client. With special occasion pieces, the 'red carpet'
rule, is simply to make sure to wear only ONE dominant
piece - if your earrings are big and bold, keep your necklace
simple, or visa versa!

An oval face is ideal for most types of jewellery because it's
symmetrical. However, I would avoid short, chunky large bead
choker necklaces near a very round face, or even large hoop
Large circular earrings

Dangly Lapis Lazuli Earrings
Instead, I would opt for longer necklaces, layered and teardrop shapes,
or tapering cascade earrings to elongate the face (just as, vertical striped
clothing is more flattering than horizontal on a larger framed person).

Heart-shaped faces look best with earrings that are wider at the base,
to balance a narrow chin, such as teardrop or chandelier shapes.

Circular and short drop earrings work well on oblong thin faces,
appearing to create a fuller effect and can also make square
faces appear less angular.

Skin colour and tone also plays a significant role, as warm/yellow
tones look great in gold, pewter, copper and earth tone gems and

A cool pinkinsh skin tone is better with silver, accented
with beads or gemstones in pink, purple, green, blue ...

Whilst darker toned skin, goes with every metal and all
bright colours!

One of the most important aspects for choosing or designing
jewellery, is that it creates a pleasing sense of visual balance
when worn.  For a generous figure, smaller pieces can get
lost, or make the body appear larger. For example, small stud
earrings on large frame will not be as flattering as an elegant
drop bead. It's all about proportion!

The opposite is the same. As large, clunky pieces can overpower
a petite frame, or even wearing too much jewellery can over-
whelm it! Therefore, a small frame looks more balanced with
thinner chains, or stacked pieces. 2 or 3 strands look less heavy than

I'm definitely not advocating this as a 'black and white' rule,
as big, bold jewels worn correctly, can look absolutely stunning
on a small frame, if the personality can carry it off!

Remember to accentuate positive physical features, for
example, statement rings will draw attention to beautiful
manicured nails.

A short neck can look longer with dangly earrings (although
they should not hang past the shoulders!) and long necklaces
will draw the eye downward, elongating the neckline.

By concentrating on your assets, you'll draw attention away from
other parts you don't like!

We are visual animals, so if you're feeling a bit lack lustre after
an illness, overwork (or possibly the U.K. winter!), wearing a
statement piece, a dash of positive colour, a design that reflects
your personality (especially if you have created it yourself!),
will act as a powerful tonic for the day!

Ultimately, it's about wearing what YOU feel comfortable in,
and if you know what flatters you in Style, Shape and Colour ...
that can only be a bonus!

Remember, jewellery is wearable art ... express yourself!
So, go on! Brighten up your day (and everyone else's), by wearing some