Upcycling wire

One thing I’ve been trying to learn about and be good at is working with craft wire in various gauges.  The problem with wire, though, is that once you work with it, there’s no straightening it out to be reused in its original state. It also takes time to untangle and undo.

Over the weekend, I had started to reorganize my beads and found a stash of them “all wired up” but not quite in the way I would be happy with.  It took some reworking but I finally got them undone and the wire set aside for upcycling.

I sorted them by thickness and cut them in uniform lengths.  I’ve been experimenting with creating findings out of coiled flattened wire.  Pounding wire takes some practice because (1) you have to apply roughly the same pressure to the entire wire, more so if you’re trying to come up with multiples of the same size.  (2)  You have to work a wire from one end to the other on the same side, more so in the first pass when you are flattening a round wire.  This requires holding down the wire on the end you have already flattened to make sure it spreads out on the same side.

I have become comfortable with my hammer and tiny anvil and often work on a flat surface with the anvil on a magazine or some such support.  While we normally think that pounding wire actually thins it out and weakens it, working on wire this way actually hardens the wire because the action compresses it.  (This, of course, is a crafter’s explanation of what the process does..).

I start on one end and move slowly in multiples of 10.  (Pound one area 10x and then move a few millimeters out until I reach the end. ). Imagine yourself squeezing out the last bits of toothpaste from the tube and you’ll get what I’m trying to do.  I them flip the piece and do the same to the other side and I keep repeating this from end to end, both sides, until I achieve the thinness or width I want.  Again, remember to do it uniformly for all sides and all pieces.  Once done, I used my jumping pliers tool to create these coils.

Upcycling craft wire

It takes a while but it beats throwing away wire you’ve spent good money on.  They lend a rustic and handmade feel to my creations which I will be experimenting more with.  I really like the feel and look of the upcycled wire even against such elegant barrel faceted beads like the ones I have pictured here.  Some people produce the same effect with random wire wrapping on an ensemble like this as well. I just prefer the destructured feel it produces when you like them on with beads.

Upcycling craft wire

In the middle of projects

I’ve been trying to finish some pieces for the shop but I think I’ve been distracted by a new found interest in metal smithing — particularly working with hammered wire. It’s been very interesting.  While I had been experimenting with working with my tiny hammer and seeing how the metal wires react given the different gauges, I’ve since progressed to filing open edges which should make it safe to wear.  (You don’t want the sharp edges of the wires scratching your skin.

Hammering wire has a different design effect from just looping the wire or handling it to take this or that shape.  Flat wires can also provide a good base finding for necklaces and maybe bracelets, although I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I’m learning that I have to count the times I hammer a particular area and the direction my hammering moves also affects the shape of the flattened wire.  While I had thought that hammering wire would thin it, it does so in a way but the expansion of the wire in a different direction actually makes it harder and sturdier.

I’m hoping to finish and post a piece or two over the weekend as I am starting to get back into polymer clay.

This time, I’m going beyond simple hand conditioning and actually rolling out the clay in the pasta machine’s thickest setting.  I’m going to “punch out” beads from these.  I’m also trying to create some bead molds.  (One of two – not bad.  The second that didn’t quite work out will become a bead pin cushion when I bake headpins.)

Work in progress: The Thank You Postcard ProjectI’ve also been busy doing postcard backgrounds and flower embellishments for a postcard project in the works.  It’s something that is taking shape very slowly but requires quite a volume of pieces to take off.  I have over a hundred postcard backgrounds and maybe almost a hundred flower embellishments for starters, but this projects involves more than just my favorite pieced paper flowers.

I’m gathering my stash of background papers, bought from the store and made from prints and watercolor and other inks.  I am thinking of different ways and means to create, using up gorgeous paper napkins as backgrounds, and gathering other graphics I had created during my short stint with other art for swaps.  I’ll write more about that later.

Meanwhile, time to get back to the wire and the hammer and hopefully get a post or two up at the shop later.

Have a great weekend, everyone!