Haiku Wire Jewelry with Guest Blogger Barb Switzer

Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most powerful. Wire jewelry made with clean lines and bold colors can make just as big a statement as a piece of wire jewelry made with intricate bends and wraps. In fact, it can actually be more difficult to create a simple piece of beautiful wire jewelry — when you're not loading up the piece with crystals and gemstones, each bead is very important in the execution of the overall design.

Today's guest blogger on Beading Daily is the very talented bead and wire jewelry artist Barb Switzer, who shares with us her very beautiful take on what she calls Haiku Jewelry!

A Wire Jewelry Haiku

A handmade glass bead,

framed with elegant chain links,

hanging brilliantly.

Once, back in 2006, I bought beads at a show in Oakland, took them home, and turned them into jewelry before the weekend was over. The inspiration for this miracle was simple: by husband suggested that I attach a jump ring, attach some chain, and just "put together something simple." This idea shook me up. I tend to dedicate a lot of time and thought to each piece I design, and it seemed almost blasphemous to attach some bead, chain, and a clasp and call it finished. As soon as I put on the necklace — a fine collection of Fordite beads — I realized that there was nothing at all wrong with this straightforward approach. Honestly, it was satisfying as both a maker and wearer.

I term this very basic design concept "haiku jewelry." A purist ideal of using wire, a few beads, and findings, especially chain, can seriously increase the amount of jewelry you can complete during creative time slots. Attempts to use each treasured purchase in an eye-catching, totally new, one-of-a-kind design, often makes it impossible or too time-consuming to finish a piece of jewelry. Embracing the elemental process based on simple loops and links allows new purchases to be transformed into new jewelry post-haste.

Now be a deconstructionist. Wire jewelry is recyclable. Jump rings, clasps and chain can be re-used. A pendant can be moved to the center of a different necklace. Since you don't have to commit too much time, you can always put together a "wear it now" version of a necklace, and then remake it later on, using the same materials or completely different ones. And since metal smacks of permanence, even if you don't feel committed to a design, it won't look that way to anyone else.

Next time you find yourself with less than two hours to make a new necklace before meeting friends for dinner, dig through your stash, pick out the bead or pendant that yells loudest (or that has languished longest), and make something. Don't get caught up in the process, and keep things elemental. Remember that when that particular bead spoke to you, it had no compelling design "story." You must tell that story. There is no minimum word count, so keep it simple, and design a visual haiku.

Ready to explore your own version of wire jewelry haiku? Check out The Wireworker's Companion by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson of Step By Step Wire Jewelry Magazine. It's perfect for beginners, with fabulous reference information about both the types of wire used in jewelry making and the tools that you'll need to work with it. More advanced wire jewelry artists will love the detailed techniques and tutorials, including how to use a micro torch and how to do chain maille!

You can pre-order your copy of The Wireworker's Companion now, or you can download the eBook onto your favorite desktop or laptop computer and be reading in just minutes! (It contains all the same great content as the print version, but in digital format.)

Do you have a great tip for someone just getting started with wire jewelry? What would you say to encourage someone to get started learning how to make wire jewelry? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your tips and ideas with us!

Bead Happy,


Barb Switzer has been bending wire since 1995. Originally, it was just a hobby that she loved in a ridiculous way. In 2003, she changed states, residences and committed herself to supporting herself by doing what her heart told her. She is also a trained graphic designer and production specialist with a background in printing and photography. You can contact her at beadswitzer@yahoo.com.

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