Get to Know Denise Peck, Queen of Wire Jewelry

She's the Editor-in-Chief of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine, the author of (and contributor to) several great jewelry-making books, including Wire Style and Wire Style 2 (you know something is fabulous when we have to make a sequel!), and the star of some great jewelry-making videos, including an exciting new one that I can't wait to see, which you'll learn more about next week. She's also super talented and so much fun.

Electroformed maple leaves in a raku tube by Maku.

When did you first start making jewelry?

I have dabbled in jewelry making since I was girl. I always loved beading, but I didn't see it as a career possibility. After college, I went into publishing and worked in the newspaper industry for fifteen years. It wasn't until they downsized that I finally decided to take the leap and learn metalsmithing. I took a bench jeweler's program at Studio Jewelers in New York City. It was sheer luck that when I was finished, I found a job that combined both my love of jewelry and publishing!

Charley and Roger, my schnoodle and poodle rescues.

Lucky lady! What careers have you had, other than magazine editor and jewelry-maker extraordinaire? Are there any others you'd like to have "someday"?

Someday?! Someday soon I'd like to NOT be working so I can be beading all the time! The one other thing I would have loved to have devoted my life to is helping animals, which I do in small ways. But the problem with a career in that is that I can't bear to see animals suffering! It's kind of a catch-22. I adore dogs and have two little rescued cuties at the moment. They light up my life. I wish I could have dozens!

Me too! Other than scratching ears and tummies–and running a magazine–what have you been working on lately?

I have spent the last four months working on electroforming things from nature. I am having a blast at it! Everything I pick up now, I think about how it would look covered in copper. It's way easier than it may appear. And the rectifiers you need to use have become much smaller and more affordable recently. How cool is that?!

Neighborhood parking in Venice.

Very cool! Speaking of cool, a little bird told me that you recently took a trip to Italy. So how cool was that?

It was more beautiful than I ever imagined. My husband and I went to Rome and Venice. Both are magical in very different ways. The ancient ruins in Rome transport you to another time. You can't believe you're standing among them. And Venice! A city built on canals?! No cars, no motorcycles, just boats. People park their little boats in the canals outside their homes, like their driveways! And, wow, how about those Venetian beads?! I spent a lot of money in Venice!

I bet! I would have too. I love glass beads and making jewelry with them. I am wrapped-loop challenged, though, and I have no patience for chain maille; are there any jewelry-making techniques that you just can't seem to get the hang of?

Clay, clay, and clay! I love the look of well-made clay jewelry, and that includes metal clay, polymer clay, and ceramic clay. I am challenged by metal clay because you need to work fast, and keep it from drying out. And it's quite hard to get it to look like fine jewelry, not just a lump of metal! And polymer clay, when it's done well, is fabulous! But that requires the art of color blending. I have yet to master that!

Murano glass bead jewelry in the window, in Venice.

Those are some of my favorites! Polymer clay is so versatile. Do you do any crafts other than jewelry making?

I've always loved all crafts, and I have my mother to thank for that. She taught me to sew when I was quite young. And together we'd always take up the latest craft trends. Anyone remember crewel embroidery? Where did that go? We hooked rugs; we made crystal fruit and Christmas ornaments. I once made a complete chess set out of nuts and bolts. I went through a baby-quilt-making phase when my friends were having babies. Now those babies are all in college!

A chess set out of nuts and bolts? That's pretty amazing. What other hidden talents do you have?

My hidden talents . . . hmmm. I've always been very good mechanically. I can figure out how things are put together. That has clearly aided me in my jewelry-making abilities. I'm also very good with directions–the north, south, east, west kind. I rarely get lost.

That makes me curious. Complete this sentence: You may not believe it, but one time I . . .

. . . ran a Mrs. Fields cookie shop! Yes, at one time I thought it would be fun to open a cookie shop at the beach. So I thought I'd learn the ropes at Mrs. Fields. They were really just getting going, and they opened a shop in my neighborhood in Brookline, Massachusetts. I trained there and eventually ran the shop that opened within the Bloomingdales nearby. Guess what that outcome was? I learned I didn't want to run my own cookie store! It is HARD physical labor!

Isn't she fun? If you'd like to learn more about Denise and her jewelry-making talents, check out this great Denise Peck combo: save 20% when you buy both Wire Style and Wire Style 2 (now through Friday, November 11, 2011)! That's two books and a bonus DVD full of wire jewelry-making tips, wirework instruction, and 95 wire jewelry projects. Can't beat that deal, just in time for the holidays!

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