Saturday, February 27, 2010

Woot for Wire!

I'm having a great week in wire! I had an inspiring design idea earlier in the week that made me drop everything to chase after it like a hound for a rabbit. It appeared easy at first but the details regarding construction, balance, proportion, and color, are taking longer to hammer out than I anticipated. I've passed the 20 hour mark on this design already and I have only done prototypes.

But unlike other times where I have spent hours and have nothing to show for it, I do feel I have learned a lot and hammered out many various design ideas that can be used in the future.

I took time out to make a pendant from one of the inspirations I have been hammering out this week. I'm very happy with it.

Sterling silver and and chunky rough iolite, teensiest little sterling silver seed beads with a stamped pattern. The pendant measures about 1.5 inches.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Always the Dilemmas

I hate camera's. As soon as one is pointed at me I clench up and get stiff. A picture of me smiling and looking natural is a rare artifact, and highly coveted by my mother. It is usually acquired by the photographer practically hiding in the bushes before the deer becomes aware and bounds away.

Today I did a self portrait for the first time ever. It looks like me. Everyone at work is strongly opposed to my showing this picture to you. "Too intense, too dark, to brooding and unfriendly", they say.

I do have a friend at the office who sometimes takes a picture of me. He usually chats me up and does his best to distract me which helps to get a smile on occcasion. He took a picture of me a year ago. They say it looks warm, friendly and safe. They want me to use that picture.

So I decided to show both faces:

Mary Tucker, Mechanical Designer, ordinary working girl, one year ago

Mary Tucker, The Angsty Artist, Proprietor of Wired Elements, this morning

Monday, February 22, 2010


I was starting to worry that Step By Step would forget to post a correction. Today I found the post on their site. Here is the correction for anyone who wants to make the Spiral Locket.

Thank you Step by Step magazine!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Wrap

What a week in wire it was. Lot's of wrappings and component making that led to nothing. Lot's of time investment that seemingly did not pay off.

I continue to make long swingy necklaces but with my major focus on wrapping one bead, or one clasp to perfection. Just one perfect wrap to slip in a long swingy silky strand of hand knotted beads.

I would love to make one perfect component that could equal the quality and beauty of an Iza Malczyk design. I have big dreams, don't I? That's a very high mountain to climb I know!

This necklace is made of lace agate, carved ebony wood, sterling, hematite, and lava stone. The length is 36 inches. The focal stone is wrapped on both sides so that it won't matter if it flips around when being worn.

A very happy event occurred this morning. I thought that maybe when I solder, I don't apply enough heat for long enough. I got out some silver from the waste bin and experimented with this and viola! I can finally melt good silver solder! There was much singing and dancing.

This was a major break thru for silly me! And after I did this I finally came to understand why pickling solution is so important - hehe- thank goodness I had some on hand;)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Long and Swingy

I've been sorting thru my jewelry supply stash and wondering what in the world to do with all these beads I have? Like most of us I started out as a beader and graduated to wire work. These days, I am lucky if I can get one focal bead placed on my wire wrapping, let along a whole strand!

I was truly stumped as to what to do with the beads, until the desire for something long and swingy paved the way to creation.

This is coco wood beads, sterling, denim lapis, dyed agate, hand knotted on hemp. The wire wrapped toggle has more lapis and iolite.
I love when all the threads of life come together and meet in one place. What I am, what I need, what I have, all come together to make me something long and swingy. Now I know what do with my beads. Hmm, how many clasps can I think up anyway?

This is about 44 inches long, a little too long, but I'm keeping it for myself, (these are my colors). It can be worn long or wrapped twice around the neck. The clasp can be shown off or hidden in the back.

Watch out beads, here I come!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Correction to Spiral Locket Tutorial

I haven't known exactly how to handle this situation, but, Step by Step made a typo in Step 1 of the locket project that I feel will affect the outcome of the project.

The editors are very sorry that this tiny detail was missed and they have promised to post a correction on their website soon, and will also post a correction in the next issue of Step by Step. They were very professional and quick to offer a solution once it was pointed out to them.
(The east coast is snowed out right now, the editors will need some time until they can get into the office)

I am telling you, because I want to get the word out that you should not make this locket without the correction. It is too much of a time investment if you don't have the right data, in my opinion.
As soon as I see a posted correction on their site I will link to it here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fine Points of Spiral Geometry

When we wire wrappers make a spiral, we rarely are thinking of the geometry of that shape. We rarely count how many coils around we are going or whether or not it is symmetric. We are mostly focused on making it pretty and keeping tool marks off of it.

When we want to control the size of the spiral, we often measure a length of wire and than spiral that length, but we don't usually count how many coils we have in the spiral. We don't usually stop and consider whether it is a symmetrical or asymmetrical spiral.

Depending on the needs of our design, we might need to take a closer look at the geometric properties that make up a spiral. The advantages to having a symmetrical spiral is that it will be evenly weighted and hang straight, it can be matched up with a circular finding or another symmetrical spiral, and symmetry can be a beautiful and unifying aspect of a design.

Let's start with something as elementary as counting how many coils we have in a spiral. When you have made one complete turn around the circle, this counts as one coil. A second complete turn around the circle counts as two coils.

Looking at our two coil spiral, you can see that on both the right and left hand sides of the spiral you have two widths of wire. This is also true for the bottom. Only the very top has a little extra wire where the third coil would begin. This is an example of a symmetrical spiral, because all sides are even.

Now what happens if I begin a third coil but only go partially around the circle? You can see that the left hand side has three widths of wire, while the right hand side only has two widths of wire. This is an example of an asymmetrical spiral. Anytime that you do not go all the way around the circle, your spiral will be asymmetrical.

Now lets say you wanted to take a matching asymmetrical spiral and flip it over to mate on the other side, or mate it to a a circular finding. You can see what happens in the following picture. The side that has three widths of wire is now trying to mate with the side that has two widths of wire. It doesn't look nice does it? Nor does it mate in any way.

But if we take two symmetrical spirals and mate one to the other, they match perfectly!

Now, let's say you wanted to add a little loop in your spiral. First you have to decide where you want that loop to be in your design. You could make a loop right at the starting point of your next coil perhaps. It depends on the needs of your design.
If you wanted to keep coiling after you made your loop, you have a couple of options. You can go all the way around the spiral and back to your loop and stay symmetrical, or you could go half way around the circle or any degrees you please and have an asymmetrical spiral again. It really depends on your design needs.

What if you did not want your loop to be right at the end of your last coil? But you still wanted to maintain symmetry? Let's say, for example, you wanted the loop to be at a 180 degrees location from the finish of the last coil.

The way to do that, is to spiral half way around your last coil, stop and make a loop, and than finish the last half of your coil. Now you have a loop right where you want it, while also keeping your symmetry.

TIP: If you have trouble keeping track of the start point of each coil, you can always draw on your spiral with permanent marker. Once you no longer need the marks you can remove with steel wool.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blue Jean Heart

I had to make another heart to see what the detail would look like oxidized. This would make an excellent Valentine for a Blue Jean kind of woman.

I'm not a big fan of hearts - but I am a big fan of what seems to be happening in my wire work this week. Something seems different and I like it!
Sterling and fine silver, iolite, and hydro quartz.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hearts and Chocolate Yumm!!

A creative packaging idea came to me for this Valentine heart brooch. And, (who knew?) my chocolate bonbon appeared to be so suitable for Valentine's Day!

I decided that if this Valentine Brooch is purchased on or before Feb 14 I will include the bonbon as a free gift.

You never expected to see that BonBon again did you? ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Step by Step Wire

Step by Step Wire magazine Feb/Mar issue is on the news stands today and I am published for the first time ever! Woohoo!!

You'll find the tutorial to make this copper locket in the magazine if you are interested. I will also have the locket up for sale on Etsy. The exact locket in the magazine is up for sale, however I did oxidize it with Liver of Sulpher as soon I got it back from the magazine. The LOS adds a rich depth that also brings a touch of vintage elegance to the design. In the days when I sent it off to the magazine I did not use LOS.

Thanks to so many of you, and especially to Irina I now love LOS, and especially on copper.