How to Be a Wire Whisperer

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 2

by Rena Klingenberg.

What’s the secret of wire jewelry that turns out well? In this video I share what I’ve learned about flowing with the wire.

Wirework That Flowed
vs. Wirework That Didn’t

BELOW:  For the tiny sunstone on the left, wrapping the main cradle for the cabochon was tricky, and when I got to the more decorative wires above the stone, I was afraid of messing up.

So I got uptight – and the wire in that area did too!  That part of the pendant is a mess.

For the gaspeite on the right, I just completely stepped into a state of flowing with the wire – and when the wire wanted to curve in long arcs far away from the stone, I went with it.  I’ve always loved the graceful way this one turned out:

making wire jewelry with Rena Klingenberg

BELOW:  For the paua shell pendant on the left, I accidentally cut a longer piece of wire than I needed.

So instead of stopping when the design stopped flowing, I kept going – determined to use up as much of that wire as possible!

The result is a pendant that feels overpowered with wirework, and a cabochon that’s buried in metal.

For the pearl pendant on the right, I let the 14-gauge wire guide the design completely.  I flowed with it into curves where it wanted to curve, and coils where it wanted to coil.

I stopped as soon as the wire didn’t seem to have anything else it wanted to do – and I love the simple pendant that resulted:

wire pendants by Rena Klingenberg

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on flowing / not flowing with wire – and on the connection between your mind, your hands, and your wire!

The Jewelry Rena’s Wearing
in This Video:

Earrings: “Green Tea Seranata” fun fringey earrings by Southwind Design.

Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.

By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.

You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Rena! So happy to find you waiting to have coffee this morning!

    Thank you for this video and following examples of wirework. I don’t do a lot of wirework, only a little when the project seems best suited for it. It’s not my most used, best, or most studied technique, so this has been very helpful in teaching me the best way to work with wire. But when I think about it, the times I have done some wire work that I’ve liked in a piece, that is exactly what happened. It just flowed. Times when I’ve tried to do something and it hasn’t turned out, I realized I needed a different gauge of wire or chalked it up to my lack of skill with the techniques of wire-work. I know there are techniques, and I’m slowly learning them, but being taught to work with the wire to create the magic, I think that is probably a more important lesson.

    In thinking about your post, it struck me how your instructions to “flow with” rather than “try to control” the wire to get the best, easiest and most beautiful results is a metaphor for the best way to handle a lot of life.

    I too really love your green pendant, with the beautiful long curves. Very elegant and expansive looking! Love the colour of the stone as well. But then again, I had to look at the ones you were criticizing to see what you meant – on just looking at them at first, I thought they were all beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing with us!

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words, Tamara!

    Interesting that you mentioned that to “flow with” rather than “try to control” the wire is a metaphor for the best way to handle a lot of life. How very true, and maybe that’s why it’s also true with wire – a universal principle!

    In your mixed media jewelry, do you feel the flow of the diverse elements coming together – and that the ones that just “feel” right during creation are also the ones that resonate with people more?

    Jewelry, metaphysics, and coffee – a mind bending combination! 🙂

  3. Absolutely mind-bending! 🙂 You’re right though – what’s true on a small scale is true on a large scale, and vice versa.

    I do feel the flow of different elements coming together for me, in a way that feels right for me. I’ve been focusing quite a bit recently on just working on my inventory, and allowing myself to just go whereever my creativity leads me. That has felt for me like flowing and letting go of control. Part of me is not sure where that is going to end up (like you’re not sure where the wire is going to go), and what the market response to that is going to be. But I have to trust that as I flow the way I am “wired”, the most beauty will be created and will be appreciated by those who it is meant for.

  4. I just have to share this – I realized last night that the principle (of flowing with rather than trying to control) works not only for wire, but also in working with other mediums. I was struggling all evening with my bra strap project, trying to sew the beads on in a certain way for a certain look, and it wasn’t working very well at all. I kept taking it apart and starting over.

    After the little conversation we had (above), it occurred to me that I was trying to control the project. I knew immediately that I needed to just let go of that way of trying to have it look, and let it flow. This morning I tried that, and it worked like a charm! Much easier, more enjoyable, a more beautiful outcome, and I didn’t feel “beat up” by my project! And I could actually reply to Teresa’s email asking me to suggest a time for us to meet!

  5. Awesome, Tamara! I can definitely see that sewing would have its own flow.

    And I think you’re right that the “flow” principle is true for probably all forms of creativity. I think I feel it the most with wirework, because that’s the medium where I’m most likely to suddenly depart from the flow and feel the need to control things – especially if I’m working with wire that’s expensive!

    And it’s also the medium where I’ve really noticed the mental shift of letting go of control and flowing with the wire.

    I’m so glad to hear that “flow” was the answer to the bra strap project when you got stuck at a frustrating part. I’m going to work on remembering to let go and flow with more things.

  6. C.E. Iyo says:

    Rena, When I heard you talk about the “flow” it was like you were sitting here with me while I was trying to work. There is nothing worse than the constant interruptions, so I have learned to work when no one is around and I shut the phone off.
    I felt inspired the other night after watching a TV program and next thing you know my husband who never talks to me after a certain time (cause he’s usually too tired) decides to start asking 50 questions I got so flustered I had to stop.
    So thank you for sharing the “flow” as least I know it’s not in my head.

  7. Rena
    I know exactly what you mean. I am a wire sculpturer and tell everyone that each piece is individually unique because I can not do exactly the same thing everytime. if you want a piece “like ” some other piece, I might get close but it will never be the same. My mind says do this but my hands take over and it comes out here. The flowing times are the good times. When it is not flowing, I do not work but put the work down, or work on something else until it returns. That’s one of the reasons that I started to work with kumihimo.
    Bob

  8. deborah says:

    I make chainmaille jewelry and I was drawn to it because it did not require a lot of creativity! Follow the pattern, add a clasp or earwires, tada jewelry made. But as I did more of it, I found the orderly repetition actually relaxes me and frees my mind to wonder and ponder possibilities for decorating and enhancing the piece. I think that is going with the flow, also. I have never enjoyed wirework and now I understand why… I have been trying to control the wire not flow with it! I need to try it again with a different attitude. Thanks for your help and insights.

  9. Yes! I said nearly the same thing in my artist statement: Each piece of wire I cut from the spool has a personality of its own, I am not in complete control, the wire and I come to an agreement.

    It’s a conversation. The wire talks to me in shapes, and I talk to the wire with my hands. Like Bob, I learned long ago that if I’m doing all the “talking”, I walk away or pick up another project.

  10. Hi Rena,
    I so enjoy your videos. Especially this one. I don’t make lots of wireworked jewelry, but do use decorative wire work in my stained glass pieces. I often got frustrated trying to “make” the wire flow in a certain direction and thought I was doing something wrong. Thanks so much for simplifying my life. Now I will just “go with the flow”.

  11. Denise says:

    I know exactly what you mean by being in the flow. When you are in that creative space, something else takes over and does the work, and the conscious mind takes a mini-vacation. There have been many times that I’ll look at a piece I’ve wire wrapped a few weeks ago and say to myself, “how in the world did I do that?” Well, it’s because my conscious mind didn’t. The creative side and the wire itself designed it. Thank you for the validation, as I did sometimes think that I too was doing something wrong and needed to just practice technique more to make the wire go where I wanted.

  12. Rena
    I am normally very controlled in my day since my job as an Accountant requires that. I have been drawn to creative projects in my spare time because I can’t control them and that gives so much balance.

    I wanted to share that most often I like to listen to audio books while I paint and create my jewelry. It just takes me to a “zone” where I just create without much effort… I suspect it distracts my busy mind and let’s things flow.

    By they way, thank you so much for the video. I already feel like I know you from your newsletters and wonderful books. The video made me feel like you and I were having a personal chat. Nice!

    Ann

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Rena. My background is in graphic design because as a young child I was to always have a pencil and paper nearby at all times, basically obsessed with drawing.

    So as the years went by up I learned how to apply restraint in what I was drawing & painting. It wasn’t easy to do – at all! But it became necessary to have items other people could enjoy.

    And so the “cull ratio” in my art life became embraced. It saved my sanity and kept me focused. As I became enthused by lapidary I naturally adopted wire work into my hobbies, unfortunately arthritis limits a lot of mobility and I have come to view this as a natural way to k.I.S.S.

    In my limited window of skill and opportunity there is a zone of flow, it is welcome and trusted and rarely leads me into an over-the-top piece of work because the mind is able to relax in a meditative state and once again I can get out of my own way and let things become a design instead of an effort.

  14. I totally agree! This is in my artist statement. When I try to explain my process to non-artists they don’t always get it. It is definitely a conversation. I like to listen to music or watch old musicals when I work. I was having trouble understanding why I could not work at home as well as when demonstrating at shows. I know now that I am picking up on the creative energy and less distractions from everyday life. Thank you for the articles, and everyone’s comments.
    Aileen

  15. Hi Rena,
    It’s such fun to be able to see you and hear you. The video turned out beautiful. I agree with you. Each jewelry that I create has a way of expressing itself or grow up. In that way I can relate it with rearing kids! It has its own mind (or what’s the right word?) and you have to go with that. Sometimes a piece turns out even better than what I had anticipated, and sometimes it does not, especially with wire work.

    I like when I am given freedom. I love your pieces, all of them. My most favorite one is the green, the blue one is also very beautiful. How can you work with such thick gauge wire? I have given up beyond 18. I love the thinner ones for my fingers. Take care, Rena. Dita.

  16. Hi, Rena,
    Again, love your video segment. It’s wonderful to put a face and voice with a name in this internet world. And you’ve seemed to connect with many folks on this particular topic.

    Love reading their thoughts about working with wire. It can be an intimidating medium to work with. The flow you refer to does come from the wire, and I also think it comes from an intimate knowledge of it’s properties, that is acquired from hours, days, weeks, months experimenting with it.

    Your hands develop a sort of muscle memory. I read once that in any creative endeavor there is a long period of developing the knowledge, disciplined habits and skills that allow the body and mind to be free to interact creatively with the art medium…whether painting, dance, music, teaching, or wire working. You obviously have ‘done the time’.

    Lovely pendants, I’m particularly fond of the gaspeite. Graceful was a perfect description of the work.

  17. Thank you all so much for your kind words, and for sharing your thoughts and experiences with “flow” in your creativity!

    Flow is a topic that really fascinates me – I can’t always connect with the flow, but when I do I feel like I’ve merged with a powerful force that’s willing to carry me and my project along with it.

    Really interesting to hear all of your experiences with it!

  18. Hi Rena,
    I just saw your video and comments about wire work. You are so on target.
    I found that the more I work with wire, the freer I feel about my designs. At first it was all about controlling the wire, to make it do what I thought it should do, but now I love experimenting with different designs and what I call Modern Twist designs. Thank you as always for your great information.

  19. Thx for the vidio and picks .I am facinated with wire wraped treasures can u show me how to start? I dont think I could sell them but I would love to make them.Thx Frankie

  20. Fascinating, Rena 🙂 As you know, I’m a wire novice so maybe I’m misguided but, as I understand these things (and boy have I had to learn quick!), it strikes me as interesting that the pieces you say were the product of not going with the flow just happen to bear a strong resemblance to many things I’ve seen recently, all of which are considered “must haves” in the current trends 🙂

    I believe it’s tied up with this peculiar concept: “organic”. How metal can be organic, I’m not too sure lol, but it also strikes me that “organic” is a wonderful trend! It smacks of a touch of genius somewhere along the line! Now, we don’t have to discard or rework pieces that most assuredly we would have not so long back – we can simply double the price and label them “Organic” 😀

    I’m going to be pursuing the idea of being a “wire whisperer” myself 😉 If disaster strikes, though, I just might be tempted to yell “It’s Organic” LOL!

  21. Wow this is great! I loved the video; I thought it was very insightful and made me think, AAAAHHHH YESSSSS!

    I am going to check out some more of your videos! Also, i wanted to thank you RENA for sharing SO much valuable information on your sites, it has been such a huge “go to” for me whenever I have questions! You are the first place I seem to look, and I think that KARMA is present in all our lives, what you give you get back, and thank you for giving so much!

    LOVE AND LIGHT
    ANGELA

    owner of Charmed Karma

  22. Dale lillian Mills says:

    How true this is.. wow..i thought to myself , that the pieces i got frustrated with were the ones that literally snapped /broke..and knowing better than to making it so tight it screamed ,stop! it broke lol.. now when i feel relaxed and creative flowing so does my wire.Thaks so much for this ..u will be loved by many..look ing to see more things to help us fellow wiring warriors !!

  23. Vickie Jo says:

    Help! . I recently have had an interest in wire wrapping, and don’t know what kind of wire to buy? Is there a good wire that won’t tarnish and will look great with very little cost?
    Thanks

  24. Vickie Jo
    Welcome to the world of choices. There is no metal that encompasses what you ask. The best wire to sculpt with is 14/10 gold filled wire in 21 or 22 guage. However it is not inexpensive. Less expensive is argentium sterling silver wire. This is less expensive than gold filled but not cheap and it does tarnish after a year or two. Depending on which ” argentium ” wire you pick the tarnish will be black or yellow. Aluminum will tarnish as will copper. Each has its assets and drawbacks. Gold and silver are saleable. There are means of removing tarnish from silver and from gold as well. as the old Barnum once said. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
    Personally I work with 22 guage soft square copper until I get an idea of what I want to do works out. I then try it in argentium silver. Sometimes once, or twice…………………………..and sometimes three times. I am a person who does the work and I am the one who has to defend it.

  25. Vickie Jo says:

    okay, with that Bob, I’m wondering if I should start out with what I think is called artistic wire either 22 or 24 gauge silver plated. Could you point me in the direction of product to use?

    I’m thankful for any help I can get.
    Thanks
    Vickie Jo

  26. Vickie Jo
    There will be some people that will disagree with me, however. You can use silver plated artistic wire but I personnally prefer 22 guage, copper square wire dead soft. I buy a pound at a time and always have it on my work table. The square wire gives you the oppertunity of twisting wire which you can not do with round wire. If you insist on silverplated artistic round wire, I would use 22 guage. Good luck either way. The important idea is to do wire sclupting. If you want to do true wire wrap, change the wire to half hard. There is a difference between wire wrap and wire sculpting.
    Bob

  27. I learned a long time ago to “let” the wire and the beads “talk” to me. The highest compliment I received on my pendants (copper and brass and sterling, not all in the same pendant) is that “It’s like seeing music.” That was great since, like the gal above, I listen to old musicals and old movies when creating.

    Thank you for this site. It’s great!

  28. I’ve had the same “lack of flow” problem when I was using sterling silver wire with limited funds to buy more. I was so uptight about making mistakes. I just wasn’t having fun, and I’m sure the wire didn’t appreciate that.

    Then I bought copper wire and felt so much freer to experiment. Wire wrapping became fun again. So I practice with copper and finish with sterling.

  29. Hi Rena,
    What a useful video (aren’t they all!)!
    I’ve just started doing wire wrapping, having made a variety of bead jewellery for a few years, and I find exactly the same with it. I need to “go with the flow”.
    I make pieces that I then put up for sale, I find that I can’t make anything that I either enjoy or am happy with if someone gives me specifics about what they want, so I don’t take orders, and I’m lucky to be able to work the way I do.
    I thought that was just me being “difficult”!!! As it’s obviously not, I’ll translate that to the wire work too, and I can see that it will happen much more easily that way.
    Thank you for all your great videos, articles, etc. – and to all the subscribers too – it’s fascinating to be able to read about everyone’s experiences.
    Coral,
    Scotland.

  30. You’re spot on with this one! It does sound a little funny at first, but you are so right. If I have to stop in the middle of a piece, for whatever reason, it becomes clumsy to pick up where I left off. The break in the flow will always reflect in my finished piece. Best for me just to start it over.

  31. Great video and thread 🙂
    As an artist, interruptions are one of the worst things whether I am making jewelry or writing songs.
    Here’s what I do:
    1) make sure I won’t interrupt myself – use washroom, get water or tea, snacks.
    2) let my loved ones know I am going “in” for while. If they need anything, now is their chance.
    3) disregard the clock 🙂

    Narissa

  32. Hi! Great info regarding working with Gold Filled wire. You mention 14/10 gold filled wire is the best to work with…i’ve been reading that a lot, but i’m having a hell of a time finding suppliers for this. i’ve found hagstoz in Philly, but is there anyone else that can supply this? Rio, Stuller, A&E, all seem to stock only 14/20.
    Thx
    norm

  33. Rena I stumbled across this page and feel as though I’ve found Gold… you have put into words my feelings as I struggle to learn wire work. If I force a design to work it looks awkward and unnatural… but if I sit for a while and “go with the flow”…. it works… I have read through the previous comments and it looks as though we all feel the same….. so a BIG Thank You from me for putting our feelings into words 🙂
    Sandy

  34. Thank thanks for your lovely comment, Sandy. It’s interesting to see how many of us come to the same realizations when it comes to wire – even if we use very different wire techniques in our creations! 🙂

  35. Linda Erickson says:

    I so agree with all that has been said. If I know that I NEED to make a few pieces, they just do not come out as I intend. I have to be in the ZONE to really create beautiful items. I call the pieces Wire Gone Wild. As previously stated, there can be no two item which are made identical when working with wire. I stress this when I do take orders. The ordered item will be ‘like’ the original, but my work is always one of a kind. So good to hear that others are of the same mindset! Rena, I always look forward to reading your posts. Your insight is wonderful! Thank you.
    Linda

  36. Linda, thank you so much for your lovely comment, and for sharing your Wire Gone Wild philosophy – so well named! And it’s wonderful to hear your thoughts and experiences with this aspect of wireworking.

  37. So happy to hear you hate doing custom pieces. I will not do them , because if they liked what my designs look like they should always trust the artist to design similar pieces. I find it impossible to try and make the same pattern over. I too flow with the wire. Sometimes using gold and silver together for a larger pendent. Use 14 gauge wire and just make doodle shapes like free style drawing. Use as pendants or make necklaces about of doodles , attach each piece together with jump rings. Hammer lightly to hold shape. Can use more then 1 jump ring to attach. Attach to chain, l usually make 3doodles together about 17 -18 inches long. Can make longer but use less doodles . Fan of your work. Just keep flowing

  38. Beverly, thanks so much for your lovely feedback! And I’m fascinated with your doodle shapes approach.

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