Steel Wire Jewelry: Stylish Designs, Simple Techniques, Artful Inspiration
by Brenda Schweder (Lark Books $22.95 US; $27.95 CAN) includes 33 contemporary jewelry projects as well as instructions and tips for cutting, forming, and working with steel wire. Precious metal costs can often mean less jewelry making for some jewelry designers, so learning to work with inexpensive materials, such as steel, can be one way to make jewelry that still looks great but won't break you bank account.
The basic wire concepts are very similar, and author Brenda Schweder includes her witty humor along with her eye for unusual and artist design.
Techniques and Materials
First, the book introduces you to steel wire, which the author warns is dirty since it has a carbon finish on it. However, it is also available in hardware stores, is inexpensive, and comes in dead-soft, so while the idea of steel sounds tough, the reader is assured that it is not hard to work with. As the first part of the book discusses the history and how steel wire is made, sprinkled through here and the rest of the book are some amazing photos of finished jewelry pieces made by an assortment of jewelry designers. Like Schweder's work, most have an edgy and urban style.
Next a tools and technique section discusses what you need to get started. A "Tool Kit" is listed that will be used for the projects that follow. Full color photos are next to text-based instructions to illustrate how to various wire techniques such as making jump rings, loops, wraps, and other basic wire forming.
None of the projects require soldering; all components are formed with wire and assembled using cold connections such as jump rings and wire wraps and loops. A number of projects also include found objects such as the necklaces made using a bale made from steel that is then connected to fossil pieces. In one bracelet project, large rings of steel are connected with a vintage door hinge and accented with a fishing lure.
Projects include an assortment of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, and lots of rings. As mentioned before, the look and style of the jewelry throughout the book is contemporary. At time,s it is edgy, and many pieces are move like a combination of jewelry and miniature sculptural art pieces.
Reading through this book, I found myself laughing on occasion. Brenda Schweder seems like a fun and creative artists who has really infused her personality throughout the text. Her jewelry designs also show off this unique personality, and she obviously knows a great deal about jewelry. Steel is not a typical material to use, so her guide is a great way to learn how to work with this material without having to do a lot of trial and error. As far as the projects, if you prefer more traditional designs, they may not be your taste, but more than likely, anyone who is ready to work with steel as well as found objects is not the type that sticks with tradition.
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