Behind the Pages of Wire Art Jewelry Workshop with Sharilyn Miller

It's no surprise: I love craft books, and jewelry-making books in particular. Seeing the projects and reading what designers write always makes me want to know more about the authors and the background behind each project. Did you catch my interview with wire jewelry designer and author Sharilyn Miller earlier this year? In it she shared some background about the projects in Wire Art Jewelry Workshop as well as glimpses into her life as a designer and author, including what inspires her and her best jewelry-making tip. Here are some excerpts from her answers during our interview. Enjoy!

Angel's Earrings

It's the age-old question asked to nearly every designer who has ever been interviewed–but folks want to know! What inspires your wire jewelry designs?

I find inspiration for my designs in many places, instead of relying on just one particular source. Nature, of course (flowers, leaf shapes, twigs, rocks, and gemstone beads and pearls) but also in architecture, especially ironwork found in Italy, the Czech Republic, and France, where I have taken many photographs of gorgeous iron fencing, balconies, railings, and the like. I also find inspiration in catalogs of reproduction fittings such as doorknobs and pulls, lamps, faucets, and other items of interior decor.

Faux 4-in-1 Bracelet

Chain maille (chain mail), wire weaving, knitting wire, wire wrapping, wire coiling . . . what's your favorite wirework technique?

I don't have a favorite, because I love them all! I make my own jump rings, I do lots of coiling and spiraling, I forge and shape wire, I texture it with various tools, I have woven with wire and done some wire crochet, and a little bit of chain maille (which bores me, to be honest!). I think of all of these techniques as means to an end, because the focus of my mind is always on design. For example, if I am designing a new clasp I may incorporate spirals or coiled wire into it, or both. I will probably hammer some portions of the clasp, and I may texture it or stamp it with chasing tools. One never knows.

Grateful Heart Necklace

It's hard to pick, but I think my favorite project in the book is the Grateful Heart necklace. Can you share the story behind that piece?

The Grateful Heart necklace started out as a pair of earrings. I was doodling one day and came up with a heart design with a spiral that I thought would make an interesting earring, since the ear post itself was incorporated into the design. I later had that project published in Step by Step Wire Jewelry ("Be Steel My Heart"). Later I took up some 12-gauge wire and made a similar heart with a spiral, but turned it into a pin. I used 14-gauge wire to wrap an embellishment on it and made a separate pin catch that twists to open and close. The "Big Heart Pin" was later featured on the cover of an issue of Art Jewelry, and I have taught it in several workshops. Later I thought it would be fun to turn the big heart into a pendant. My first one, made for my mother, was fashioned of 10-gauge sterling silver wire and I spent a lot of time shaping and hammering it. I then wrapped the two heart lobes with 12-gauge wire so it could be suspended in a necklace, which featured ocean jasper beads and lots and lots of sterling silver coil-wrapped beads and bead dangles. It would be incredibly expensive to make that necklace today! I gave it to my mother one Christmas, and it is still one of her favorites.


What's the best tip or advice you were ever given about making wire jewelry?

I cannot think of a specific tip or piece of advice, but I am forever grateful to my instructor, Lynne Merchant, for encouraging me (and all of her students) to pursue excellence in making wire jewelry. It's my nature to do this anyway; I have always preferred quality and when I was younger I was quite the perfectionist. When I grew older and a bit wiser, I realized that perfection wasn't attainable, but excellence is a worthwhile pursuit, so I shifted my focus to making items of superior craftsmanship.


You can read Sharilyn's full answers to these and other questions–including her single favorite must-have jewelry-making material (other than wire!) and what kind of tree she'd be–on Jewelry Making Daily. And don't miss great wire jewelry-making tips I gathered from the book! You can order your own copy of Wire Art Jewelry Workshop, with a bonus how-to DVD, from the Jewelry Making Daily Shop.


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