Friday, February 19, 2010

More adventures in wire

My love affair with wirework continues!

Here is my first wirework necklace, completely hand fabricated by yours truly.

I have used copper wire in various gauges (from 24 gauge for the wire wrapping, to 16 gauge for the neck wire - which I hammered, shaped and tensioned) and an assortment of glass beads in shades of lime and teal and turquoise.

This entire necklace began with a fantastic (free!) tutorial by the master of wire, Eni Oken. I recently joined the Jewelry Lessons website (where you will be treated to great information and tutorials, and very knowledgeable and supportive teachers) and came across a tutorial by Eni for creating a wrapped briolette with a coiled bail. Did I mention it was free?!

The tutorial was easy to follow (and free!) and after I had made two coiled drops following Eni's instructions, I devised my own variations to accommodate rondelles and round beads...and even a large bail for the pendant!

Still being enamoured with Emily Gray's creations, I was inspired to throw all of the coiled drops together to create a dingly, dangly pendant:

Combining what I had learnt from Eni's tutorial, and the 'S' clasp from 'Alexandra' (from 'Seed Bead Fusion' by Rachel Nelson-Smith), I created my own clasp. Here she is:

It's not perfect...but I love it! :-)

I am grateful to Eni and Rachel for sharing their knowledge and expertise, and to Emily for creating such awe-inspiring jewellery! Collectively, they have opened my eyes to a whole new world... and I shall forgive them for my calloused and bleeding fingers (if somebody is selling steel fingertips, please let me know), because I'm having so much fun!

Thanks for looking, and be well!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Earrings, Emily...and experimenting with eggs

Isn't it great when you come across an artist who inspires you in a whole new way? A few weeks ago I first laid my eyes upon the gorgeous wirework creations of Emily Gray.

Sure, I'd seen plenty of wirework and wire wrapped creations before. But something about Emily's work struck a chord in me instantly, and my usual thought pattern of 'That's cool, I must learn how to do that some day' stepped up a notch to 'Wow, I MUST learn how to do that TODAY!'.

So I found a tute online about how to wire-wrap a briolette (the 'messy on purpose' look...clearly I nailed the 'messy' part! LOL), and flicked through an old copy of Step-by-Step Wire, and off I set on my new journey of discovery.

Whilst I'm a long way off using AAA quality gemstones and sterling silver/gold-filled wire a la Emily, my glass beads and copper wire offer an economical medium whilst I'm learning the ropes. Champagne taste on a beer budget, you know ;-)

I love the look of patinated metal, particularly the antique effect that liver of sulphur has on sterling silver. That deep, buttery gunmetal effect is a great contrast to bright beads and gems. Not having any liver of sulphur just lying around, I resorted to something from my pantry...eggs! I'd read about using a boiled egg to patinate sterling silver, and had heard it could be used on copper also. So I decided to dive in head-first, as always, and try my luck. I boiled a couple of eggs, smashed them up, threw them into a clear zip-lock bag with my newly made wire-wrapped earrings...and stuck the stinky, gooey mess outside in the sun for half a day.

Smelly? Yes! But look at the results:

Before patination:

After patination:

Quite a difference, eh! I was surprised at the result. I really just wanted to create highlights and lowlights, and I think I've achieved that. The earrings were quite dark when I eventually rescued them from the egg bag, so I scuffed them with a kitchen scourer to expose some of the shiny copper beneath.

Not a bad way of using a couple of old eggs which would have been thrown in the bin anyway. Reduce, reuse, recycle...right!

Thanks for looking and be well!