Start Wireweaving, One Careful Step at a Time

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a
contributing editor to Beading Daily

My kids and I had a debate about chores after dinner the other night. You know the one: it involves a nagging mom using words like "lazy" and terms like "born in a barn" and indignant children using words like "whatever" and terms like "indentured servitude" (we've all been on one side or the other of that one, right?). Anyway, Child #2 was smart and slinked into her room in less than a minute during this exchange. But Child #1 can never resist a good argument (bound to be a lawyer, I'm sure), so found himself stuck in the kitchen with me and the still-dirty dishes. I left him to have at it. But when I returned five minutes later, he was just staring into the sink, the hot water running. "What's the matter, dude?" "I really don't know where to start here, Mom. There are too many things in the sink."

I really had to hold back a grin. Not just from the image of my hulking fifteen-year-old standing at the sink in a catatonic state; that was actually kind of cute. What actually tickled me is the reminder that no matter how simple something is, we all need to be taught how to do it. That night my son just couldn't process the fact that there were more dishes in the "dirty" side of the sink than would fit on the "clean" side of the sink. He needed a simple path laid out in front of him and a gentle nudge.

I figure it's that way, too, when we embark on creative endeavors. I sometimes look at a project or technique and just glaze over, thinking there's just no way I can do it. Where do I begin? I'll admit, I felt that way when I opened the box of ornate wirewoven projects from Jodi Bombardier's new book Weave, Wrap, Coil. I was completely flummoxed, thinking these projects were going to be very difficult for me to edit. But you know what? As I read Jodi's words, taking her information in carefully and slowly, I was able to understand how these beautiful pieces were put together simply, cleanly, and easily. That there really was no reason for me to be afraid. Here are the main things I learned from Jodi about taking small steps to making beautiful wirewoven jewelry:

1) The first thing to do is get yourself a set of good basic wireworking tools. Jodi's got all kinds of other tools listed in her book, but many wireweaving projects can be done with the troika: Chain-nose pliers, round-nose pliers, and some sharply pointed flush cutters. As time goes on you may want to add other items to your tool kit, but you'll use these three workhorses for just about any project.
2) There's no need to go overboard with wire purchases. Sterling silver and gold-filled wire are nice, but Jodi does most of her projects in this book with copper, brass, and craft wire. They each give a rich look to the pieces, are easy to work with, and won't break the bank.
3) As I worked on this book, I realized that much like any jewelry-making project, wirewoven projects are just a compilation of a few simple techniques. Most of you know how to do these. The first is a simple loop. I've seen folks make these in all kinds of different ways, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you want the end result to be shaped like a balloon on a string rather than like a "P". (Want a quick lesson? Check out this great how-to video from Beaducation.)
4) The second is a wrapped loop. You'll want to practice this technique until you're regularly producing nice, neat loops and wraps before you incorporate them into wirewoven projects. My best advice is to go slow and back up if your loop isn't round or your wraps are crooked. A little wrapped loops how-to ditty helps, too.
5) And the third is coiling. Let me point out that clean coils are the key to beautiful wireweaving, so when you coil, make sure to form your wraps so they are perpendicular to the wire you're wrapping to get crisp, neat coils every time.

Combine these simple things into your know-how napsack–a few tools, wire, and a handful of techniques–and you're well on your way to making gorgeous wirewoven jewelry. Now all you need are some project instructions. and for that, I'd suggest Weave, Wrap, Coil.

Happy beading-

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