Freeform Wire Art Jewelry: Make Perfect Organic Wire Loops

I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper. I either buy most gifts near the last minute, or I make them. I make ornaments, jewelry of course, stockings . . . I knit, so I’ve made lots of scarves, dish cloths, wash cloths, and I’m even attempting a throw this year. Handmade gifts are so sweet and full of love. So instead of spending today shopping, continue the fun family time from yesterday with some fun jewelry-making time today. (Or if you’ve had enough togetherness, sneak off to your studio for some alone time!) Spend the day inside laughing and making special gifts, and let all those other brave bargain hunters fight over $10 TVs at the big-box stores!

No matter what your skill level, there’s beautiful jewelry, bookmarks, suncatchers, art, ornaments, and more to be made with wire. If you get the basic curls and swirls under your belt, there’s no limit to what you can make. Let’s take a closer look at making ideal organic wire curls that you can expand into ideal handmade wire jewelry and gifts!

Double Strand wire jewelry pendant by Gayle Bird

Double Strand wire pendant by Gayle Bird. Photography by Jayme Burns.

Organic Wire Techniques

excerpted from Freeform Wire Art Jewelry by Gayle Bird

The look we’re going for with these wire projects is an organic, handmade elegance: think of these decorations as drawing with wire. The ability to do this comes from instinct, but the instinct is built from practice and a series of basic “moves” that are chained together to build complex, unique designs. We’ll work on the basic structures first and then show you how to improvise!

make a freeform wire curl

Here’s the first truly organic shape you’ll make: the curl. It forms the basis of all the other curlicues, so practice! Take careful note of the finger positions at each step.

1. Lightly grasp a piece of wire near the middle in your nondominant hand, palm up. Most of the pressure will be between your thumb and forefinger. With your dominant hand palm down, grasp the other half of the wire even more loosely; don’t even really grab it at all with this hand, just guide it with your fingers. Press the tip of your forefingers together with the wire between them.
2. The tip of your dominant finger is where the curl will be formed. Press the wire between both forefingers, sliding your dominant finger along the wire and outward, away from your body. Guiding the wire with both hands, rotate your dominant finger outward in the same direction. This will start the curl.
3. Keep rotating your hands, with full contact between both forefingers, until your nondominant palm is facing down and your dominant palm is facing up. Your nondominant hand pushes the wire curl up and over while your dominant hand guides it. The curl should now be formed between your fingers.

wire curls for wire jewelry making

The double curl is the second fundamental skill you need to master in order to move into a true improvisational style of your own. It looks complicated, but as the name suggests, it’s simply two curls on top of each other!

1. Create a single curl as instructed in the previous lesson.
2. Repeat the curl-making process over top of the first curl using a larger rotation. A double curl is created.

make alternate curls for wire jewelry

The first curl you learned to make is pointing down. To quickly create chains of alternating curls, let’s learn to make one pointing up.

1. Create a single curl in the middle of a piece of wire.
2. Keep hold of the curl in the starting position, resting it against the forefinger of your nondominant hand. Use your dominant thumb to gently start the alternate curl by pushing it down slightly, guiding the wire with your fingers.
3. Put your nondominant forefinger into the indentation you’ve just created; with your dominant forefinger, draw upward with the wire, starting a new curl.
4. Push the curl into your nondominant forefinger, rotating your hands the opposite way of the original curl so your nondominant hand ends up on top, pushing the curl backwards.

make chain curls for wire jewelry

The impact of a curl is increased when you chain them together, creating multiple curls on the same piece of wire. You can create a chain of alternate curls or keep all the curls facing the same direction. Remember the basic rules of design; in this case, you want to balance your curls and work in groups of three, five or seven.

Now comes the fun part: improvisation! See if you can duplicate the designs shown below, and then using several pieces of practice wire, keep trying different configurations. Note the balance and asymmetry. See how the various designs can be placed across different sizes and shapes of stones and elements. Watch your balance and proportion. —Gayle

practice wire curls for wire jewelry making

These basic curls and shapes will go a long way to creating eye-catching, one-of-a-kind wire jewelry designs and other wire gifts like ornaments, bookmarks, key rings, and more. Once you’re comfortable with the basic organic curls, you’ll have a wonderful foundation for endless wire jewelry-making designs. Then you can mix things up even more by adding coils, wire weaving, beads and gemstones, and other design elements.

Get Gayle’s inspiring and informative five-star-rated book, Freeform Wire Art Jewelry, for even more wire jewelry technique information and projects. Or stay in your comfy house and avoid the shopping madness when you instantly download the digital version, and you’ll be making wire jewelry before the leftovers get cold! Both the print and eBook versions are on sale now!

P.S. Did you see the wire jewelry pendant project that Gayle created just for you?

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