Q&A Part Two: Wire Art Jewelry Workshop Author Sharilyn Miller

Tammy Jones editor Jewelry Making Daily  
Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making Daily.

It was a treat to ask Wire Art Jewelry Workshop author Sharilyn Miller some questions to get to know her a little better. I hope you enjoyed part one yesterday; here's part two, with a little more insight into the genius of Sharilyn Miller!

Angel's Earrings

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

A: 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. 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. I love all the techniques because they assist me in bringing forth new designs.

Dancing Man Necklace

Q: Which is your favorite project in Wire Art Jewelry Workshop?

A: My favorite project is probably the Dancing Man necklace because it includes so many techniques. I enjoy twisting fine-gauge wire in a drill to make my own twisted-wire worm beads (we demonstrate this on the DVD, by the way), and I loved using my favorite beads that had been stashed away for years to make a special necklace. It's very expensive as-is, but you could easily make something similar using copper wire instead of silver and less expensive beads.

Since I wrote Contemporary Copper Jewelry, I've been using copper wire (much of it from the hardware store) to make all kinds of wire jewelry, and it has become a real favorite. I actually prefer copper wire to silver now! So don't be afraid to try making any of the projects from Wire Art Jewelry Workshop using copper instead of silver. It will still look great!

Q: 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?

Grateful Heart Necklace

A: 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) and I think Interweave is still selling it as a tutorial. 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.


Gyspy Stick Earrings

When I decided to teach the heart necklace as a workshop, I realized that I had to reduce the gauge size of the wire because you need very strong hands to manipulate 10-gauge sterling silver. Fine silver would be easier but much more expensive. Copper would also be doable. Anyway, I remade the heart design using 12- and 14-gauge wire (you can use either) and just went down one gauge for the wrapped embellishments. So, for example, if you made the heart using 14-gauge wire you would wrap it with 16-gauge wire. Bead dangles were added and then a necklace from there.

Really, the necklace could be made of anything. I advise my students to make a big heart pendant and then suspend it from a commercial chain, leather strips, buna cord, rubber, or whatever you like. It you're up for a challenge, go ahead and make an elaborate necklace to complement the heart pendant, as I did with my example in Wire Art Jewelry Workshop.

Q: If you were allowed all the wirework tools you liked and all the wire you could imagine, but only one other jewelry-making material, what would you pick?

A: That's easy: Tahitian pearls!


Q: Finally, the question I most enjoy asking people: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be, and why?

A: Probably an oak. Where I live in the mountains of Southern California, we are surrounded by trees. Pine trees naturally, several types, but also maples and oaks. I have one huge, gorgeous old oak tree growing next to my house with large sprawling branches that hold a vast population of gray squirrels, chipmunks, jays, woodpeckers, northern flickers, finches, robins, bluebirds, and even the occasional California quail (they are ground birds but sometimes will flutter up to my deck overlooking the national forest, and I have seen them on the oak tree). I find the oak tree inspiring because it's so broad and strong and nurturing, so generous. It shelters, provides nesting sites, and a playground for many animals and birds, and it sheds a bountiful supply of acorns each fall. It's a beautiful tree, both in what it is and what it does for others. I'd like to be like that.


Isn't she delightful? Get Wire Art Jewelry Workshop to make the projects mentioned here and many others—sixteen in all—plus an instructional DVD!

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