Wire Doodles: Expand Your Creativity and Create Wire Jewelry Designs as Unique as Snowflakes
What do you do when you're bored? When you're in a meeting and that little creative soul in you wants to play? Doodle! Sometimes, when I feel like making something in the studio but have no specific plans or ideas of what to make, I just grab some wire and start playing. I twist, I curl, I coil, I wrap it around any interesting thing I have laying around and then pull the coils apart and squeeze them back together. I make long graduated coils and squish them flat; I make flat spirals and pull them apart . . . In other words, I doodle with wire.
I assumed I was the only one who played with wire like a cat with yarn, until I saw Erin Prais-Hintz's cool new wire jewelry-making video workshop, Wire Doodles. In the video, Erin demonstrates how to create four different types of wire doodle links that you can use as clasps, focal pieces, to create unique chains, and more.
Erin builds her wire doodle links on the Now That's A Jig! wire jig, but a jig isn't required to make fun wire doodles. (Though I admit I really want one, now that I've watched her work with it!) I usually choose larger gauge soft wire (14- to 18- or 20-gauge), perfect for making curls and spirals with my bare hands, around mandrels and jigs, or using my Wubbers mandrel pliers. I enjoy seeing what comes up, and I love the feeling of the smooth wire warming in my hands as I work it.
I once showed my professional-jewelry-designer friend a new/old antique buffet I'd just bought for the dining room. He pointed to the carvings on the legs and said, "I really admire those curlicues. I make my living off of curlicues, and those are some really great ones." Now everywhere I go–in stores and in homes and in nature, I see curlicues . . . and spirals, and figure eights, and swirls that are just ideal for inspiring jewelry design elements. Every time I visit my Mom, I pick out different curlicues and design motifs in the fabric of her chair to recreate in wire. (See it on the right? Lots of design possibilities!)
Sometimes I like the resulting wire doodles so much, I save them in my "too pretty to toss" cup and incorporate them into a jewelry design later. An easy way to make a necklace is to create three or five wire doodles you especially like and connect them with jump rings or other wire cold connections. Finish them into a complete necklace with chain, leather cord, or raw silk ribbon.
Working the wire around the jig posts like Erin does helps harden and create tension in the wire. Pushing one curly end over or under another part of the doodle helps create tension in the piece, as well, sort of the same as how paperclips work. This hardening and tension will help your doodles keep their shape.
Hammering the wire to add texture will also harden the doodles and help them keep their shape. Erin shows how to add texture to wire doodles and coils by hammering them and then using patina, gilder's paste, and other polishing and finishing techniques to help the texture stand out. Remember it's best not to hammer on wires where they overlap. Hammering on overlapping wires weakens both wires where they cross, and it would be a shame for your pretty wire doodles to break! An occasional blow while hammering around the intersections probably won't hurt anything, but take care not to do it too often.
Erin's designs show how artistic steel wire can be in jewelry, and she shares some special considerations for working with inexpensive steel wire–but you can use any wire you like. I usually make my wire doodles out of ParaWire's silverplated copper-core wire; it has an excellent shine that I love, it's soft and affordable. I enjoy playing with both the round and the square. I also play with scrap wire–might as well give leftover wire pieces a chance to become a doodle before they get recycled, right? But Erin has inspired me to get steel wire from the hardware store and see if I can get it to look as special as she does.
If you love working with wire, you'll love Erin's video. If you love making artistic jewelry without paying a fortune for supplies, you'll love this video. If you want to learn to use a wire jig to create eye-catching wire jewelry designs, you'll love this video. If you're new to jewelry making and what to skip beginner projects and go right to making stylish jewelry, you'll love (and be able to create the pieces in) this video!
Erin Prais-Hintz's video workshop Wire Doodles is one of the most fun and inspiring new jewelry-making videos I've seen in awhile. Erin is a pleasure to watch and learn from, and I'm sure you'll be making eye-catching wire jewelry using steel or any kind of wire you like by the end of the video. Order the Wire Doodles DVD or instantly download the video if you can't wait another minute!