As some of you have asked about the “how” of my silver weaving and creative process, in this blog post I will show and explain some of the basic tools and techniques that I use to create my one-of-a-kind woven silver art jewellery pieces.
Argentium Silver wire comes in different thicknesses, also referred to as gauges. In my pieces I work with wire from 18 gauge (1mm) for the supporting and framework pieces/components, down to a very fine 30 gauge as the weaving/weft wires.
The first indispensable tools are my trusty wire cutters (photo 1), one for heavier gauge wires and one (very sharp and pointy) flush cutters for the finer weaving wires and for reaching in small tight spaces.
Because I work intuitively, with each piece being unique, I use the cutters throughout the creation of a piece to cut different gauges and lengths of wire as I need them…
Another perhaps somewhat surprising tool that I use is a hand held ring clamp (photo 2), usually used by silversmiths to hold a ring, but which I sometimes use to hold the framing wire in order to start weaving a component, as can be seen here in the photo.
Once I have some length in the component I shift the clamp along as I am working on the piece or continue weaving and manipulating the wire with just my hands and my very indispensable chainnose pliers (photo 3).
These pliers I use for bending and shaping all guages of wire as well as shaping fine woven and coiled wire components. And I use these together with simple wooden knitting needles (photo 4) that I use as mandrels.
As soft argentium silver wire can be easily bent and kinked, I find a nylon-jaw plier (photo 5) useful for pulling and straightening wires, and at the same time this helps to work harden the wires somewhat, with strength added to a piece as I weave, shape and work it.
Finally, two other metal working/hammering tools that I sometimes use on my heavier framing wires are a small steel anvil and jewellers hammer (photo 6). I enjoy working with these to create texture, strength and shape in heavier gauge wires, to flatten sections of wire for added interest and contrast to more fluid and smooth sections of a design.
In future blog posts I will take you through the “evolution” of some of my pieces which can only be shown through photographs taken at different stages of a piece. I will generally not be able to explain all the steps or repeat the same piece again because of the intuitive way I work…. an exciting labyrinth and meandering of unexpected weavings and twists and turns…