Learn to Create Wire Jewelry on a Budget

Oct 23, 2008

One of the things I love most about jewelry is the diversity it affords (no pun intended!). Sure, I drool over the Tiffany’s catalogs, and gawk at the windows in the Diamond District when I’m in New York City. But my favorite pieces of jewelry contain no gold and no precious stones. Instead, they’re made from rubber tubing, scrap fabric, lampwork beads, copper, steel, and craft wire.

I have a bracelet I love from an artist who wraps aquarium tubing tightly with embroidery thread and fabric, then embellishes it with buttons. The materials, I would guess, cost about $3.00. It never ceases to attract attention when I wear it.

As a jewelry maker, everything I see is sized up as possible adornment: leaves, seed pods, paper, photographs, metal eyelets, steel washers, bottle caps, broken glass . . . anything! And many of those things end up in my jewelry. I’ve drilled sea glass, made bezels around pebbles, and put leaves into resin.

An easy way to show off found objects is to just wrap wire around them. I’ve made very pretty earrings out of pottery shards wrapped with 26-gauge wire as simply as if I were tying ribbon around a package.

One of the best results of the skyrocketing costs of silver and gold is that base metals have become the rage in jewelry. Copper, brass, steel and aluminum wire are very inexpensive and quite effective in jewelry design. You can buy copper and steel wire in the hardware store and silver-plated or craft wire in your local craft store. You don’t have to break the bank and you’ll be right in vogue if you’re wearing copper and steel wire jewelry.

If you’re a beader who’s always wanted to venture into wire, it’s a perfect time.  Order your digital copy of Easy Wire today. It’s filled with over 50 simple wire projects made with six of the most widely used wire techniques -- jump rings, simple loops, wrapped loops, coils, spirals and texturing -- each one illustrated step by step. Beautiful necklace, bracelet, and earring designs combined with resin, clay, glass beads, pearls, and crystals – something for everyone. Plus an additional gallery of 30 earring designs for inspiration, tips from the pros, and a glossary of all things wire.  Go for it! You know you want to!

New Project
Cool Waters Bracelet
by Denise Peck

Steel wire lends a rustic touch to beautiful porcelain beads.  This free preview project from the new issue of Easy Wire is no longer available.  (Preview ended October 31, 2008.)  Please see the magazine for complete project instructions.

 

 


 Denise Peck is editor in chief of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine, senior editor of Jewelry Artist, and author of the new book, Wire Style. Denise will be teaching classes at BeadFest Santa Fe in 2009 and recently finished filming a DVD of her Beaded Viking Knit Bracelet workshop.  An editor by trade and a lifelong lover of jewelry, she was able to pursue both when she joined Lapidary Journal in 2004. Denise has a bench jeweler's certificate from Studio Jeweler's Ltd.



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Comments

KathyM@05 wrote
on Oct 24, 2008 8:11 AM

Good morning....please tell me the "pottery shards" used in the earrings you talk about making are NOT prehistoric pottery sherds. And that they are simply from something you or someone else broke.

Kathy

CarolP@62 wrote
on Oct 24, 2008 8:24 AM

Does anyone have step-by-step instructions including needed equipment on how to drill holes through sea glass? I've seen videos on youtube but the picture quality isn't the greatest. I need "Sea Glass Drilling for Dummies"

Thanks,

Carol

on Oct 24, 2008 9:29 AM

I have been searching high and low for the technique listed above, does anyone have the directions for this tubing method (pictures would be awesome) or can someone tell me if it will be in the new magazine.  

She(the editor) talks about it but there is no follow through as to how too :(  Is there a name for the technique?  I have gone to numerous bead stores (showing the pictures that I have collected) and everyone is like huh, clueless?  At least I now know that it is tubing as I suspected, but how does it maintain the shape?

I would love to do a couple of pieces for my cruise next month.  

Please, please, please assist me with this.

sly4 wrote
on Oct 26, 2008 6:19 AM

I also love the aquarium tubing bracelet and i would also like to know "how to".  Have instructions ever being printed in a previous magazine. If so which one.

Denise Peck wrote
on Oct 27, 2008 9:03 AM

I'll try to answer all these questions. First, Kathy, are you joking about prehistoric pottery shards?! My earrings appear to be from a broken plate pattern from the 1950s - a good decade - but hardly prehistoric! Not sure where one would find prehistoric pottery shards other than in a museum!

As for the aquarium tubing bracelet, I have not yet seen a tutorial on the technique. As I mentioned, I purchased mine from an artist who, as far as I know, is not selling any instructions on how to make it .

For drilling sea glass, when drilling stones or glass, you use a diamond drill bit and submerge the piece in a shallow bowl of water. You actually drill under water, keeping just the tip of the drill bit in the water. This keeps the drill bit cool and also preserves the diamond finish. Of course you need to be careful not to submerge the handle of the flex shaft. Check out Jewelry Artist magazine for more driling techniques.

Denise

J LH wrote
on Oct 27, 2008 2:31 PM

I am loving all this creativity!! The skyrocketing cost of gold and silver made us all run to other resources to find us using alternatives that are just amazing!  I'm very careful to measure precious metal wire and save every snipette I can manage to recover for use in cast resin molded pieces that I use for focal or accent beads.  Pieces and parts are culled from every source - computer hard drives to small appliances to old belts, watches, flea-market costume jewelry -  I can find so as not to end up in landfills.  I also scour the hardware stores for items that can be converted or adapted for use in my designs.  Dwindling gemstone availability calls for additional creative uses for stones and other material mixes to use in projects.  Keep up the good work!

Janice

mwelling2 wrote
on Nov 18, 2008 10:36 AM
I am working on a graduate school project in Information Science. The topic is jewelry making. Would someone be so kind as to help me identify how "beaders" gather their information? Is the gathering process mainly on-line inspiration, first-hand viewing, devine intervention or other? Thank you so much for any information you can impart. :o)