Jewellery designer and master of wire Linda Jones stopped by to give us an insight into her new book ‘How To Make Hammered Wire Jewellery‘ that just launched! We took the opportunity to ask Linda a few questions about her work and gained some words of advice for her fellow jewellery makers.
“Making jewellery is a complete passion of mine! I see it a bit like creating small scale sculpture to decorate people! My latest book ‘Hammered Wire Jewellery‘ was written to illustrate the full potential of the Whammer hammer and it’s 3 heads to inspire anyone to have a go at making and creating their own unique wire jewellery pieces. None of the projects are complicated, all would suit a complete beginner! As with everything, it does take a little practice to accomplish beautiful results, learning to ‘stroke’ the wire out to spread and work harden it, rather than ‘bash the living daylights out of it’ can take a few attempts, until you obtain a feel, for the material and the tool.
In ‘Hammered Wire Jewellery’. I have put together past and new projects, each one with a distinct technique that can be adapted to suit your style and there are also plenty of variation images to trigger new inspiration. The first chapter embraces spread-hammering wire to flatten and temper, the second concentrates on shaping and forming, the third encompasses, scrunching and massing up wires to form solid areas and the fourth and last chapter, brings together all these hammering techniques in a range of eclectic projects such as earrings, bangles and pendants.
My aim is to de-mistify hammering! Traditional jewellery making with precious metals requires hammering skills to create core structure, durability and professional end results. As wire is often used as a hobby/craft activity, I want to show that with some basic hammering skills, you can graduate and produce beautiful professional pieces without the aid of solder or any metal work training. Creating classic, timeless heirloom pieces that will stand the test of time! ”
Happy Whammering! – Linda
1. Tell us about how you began working with wire – were you always a jewellery maker?
No, I never even thought about being a jewellery maker until I turned 30! However, I have always been creative, making clothes, painting, crafting and after finishing school, I took a year out travelling (around Indonesia). I then went to Art College and chose to specialise in Theatre design. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to this for long and just couldn’t make up my mind what to do! I did a City & Guilds in catering and nutrition and worked in the catering industry for 3 years, followed by a typing and shorthand course (this was pre computers!) and eventually became a PA in a graphic design company and then a product design company, all in all for around 8 years … until I started to get itchy fingers! I yearned to be creative again and booked myself onto a short jewellery course, which got me completely hooked! I followed this by going to study silversmithing and jewellery design, specialising in enamelling and never, ever looked back!
2. Working with wire can be frustrating for beginners.
What piece of advice would you give to a jewellery making looking to use wire in their designs?
I would usually suggest working with 0.8mm soft copper wire, as it’s so pliable and easy to manipulate. The main starting point is to have a large spool to give you plenty to play with! Imagine that the wire is your doodle line (as if you are drawing with it) and then beads can be wired in or on it (as if you are colouring in). Having good quality pliers is also essential, as cheap tools can often mark or effect the overall finish of a piece, which can discourage a beginner.
3. What do you enjoy most about working with wire?
That I am totally self-taught! I actually chose to work in wire whilst I was a mum at home, bringing up my children, because I was worried about doing my metalwork with the danger of chemicals, soldering equipment and saw blades being left around my work table for them to touch and find. What I love about wire, is that it is very affordable to work with, you don’t need to solder and you can create beautiful designs at your kitchen table (or, on a desert island!) in no time at all! A sprinkling of beads, a spool of any wire and 2 pairs of pliers and a pair of cutters, will keep me happy and busy for hours on end!
4. What is your favourite technique and why?
I came to discover wire through my training in metalwork and have always been fascinated how the structure of sheet metal reacts when it is hammered. As such, hammering (or should I say ‘whammering’, as the creator of the Whammer hammer!) is my favourite technique with wire as I can toughen, form and shape it so that it doesn’t fall apart and has a long lasting wearability and a professional finish.
5. Can you give us an insight into what you’re currently working on, or a hint at what’s to come?
I am currently working on an upcycled jewellery collection, created out of old broken pottery, found metal (rusted) buttons and objects mixed with semi-precious beads and wires – called the Grunge Jewellery Collection. I have also designed 2 new heads for the Whammer, which Beadsmith will be launching at the end of this year and have ideas for a couple of innovative wirework tool designs for future production. However, my absolute dream, would be to get “The Great British Jewellery Make Off” on our television screens! So anyone who is reading this and has contacts with a film production company … please don’t hesitate to contact me! I have the programme outline ready to go …
6. What has been you favourite or most successful moment in your career so far?
I am most proud of my 9 published books! The first book I ever wrote 10 years ago, is still being reprinted and the people that have said to me, that buying my books opened a door to a new hobby, or helped them get through the recovery of an long term illness, gave them a creative escape… gives me such a boost! I love sharing my passion and love for my craft!
7. Of all the gorgeous designs of yours, what would be your favourite?
That is an impossible question to answer! However, I do like the simplest of designs and perhaps one of my favourites is my ‘Feather’ necklace, which is just pure and simply, hammered wires!
8. What inspires your designs?
Nature, is a constant muse and everything else around me can trigger inspiration! With my metal pieces, I love ancient and tribal designs … anything rustic and colourful!
9. What tips can you give to a jewellery maker who wants to go self employed?
Firstly, you have to accept that you’ll never make a lot of money! It’s a very busy market and competition is so fierce, so it has to be a passioned based! Then, follow your heart and design and create pieces that you would wear, that reflect your personality so that they are truly individual and unique! Also, be flexible to change and learn new skills to adapt to a constantly changing industry!
10. In a world where you could have all the materials you would need and create anything you could imagine, what would your dream design be like?
I would be very happy living in the Beads Direct warehouse! I don’t have a dream design, I just feel very lucky to be able to continue evolving with new designs. I still have plenty to learn … my dream is to be able to continue designing, making and teaching!
11. Other than wire, what are your favourite beads or materials to combine in your work?
When I get the chance, I love working with semi-precious beads and stones and playing and experimenting with any new materials that come onto the market. I also love working with precious wires, such as sterling silver and gold (although, that is sadly infrequent due to financial restraints!).
12. When you aren’t busy whammering, what do you enjoy doing?
I like lovely long dog walks, listening to music, going to live gigs – I’ve got quite an eclectic range and taste! I love going to the theatre, cinema, art galleries , in fact I love the ‘Arts’ in general! I also like travelling and visiting new places and I especially like spending time with family and friends.
Thank you so much Linda! I hope you all find this as insightful as I did! I’m already feeling the need to grab a Whammer and make something! 😁 Be sure to check out Linda’s new book ‘How to Make Hammered Wire Jewellery‘ and be inspired to create her beautifully elegant wire designs for yourself.