I haven’t written a book review since 7th grade, so this was a new challenge for me! But when Gayle Bird’s publisher contacted me and asked if I’d like to review her book Freeform Wire Art Jewelry, told him that I’d be happy to take a look. I know that I normally write about polymer clay, so this is a bit of a departure for me. But I actually found that this book is relevant to those of us who find ourselves with various polymer beads and cabochons with no idea how to turn them into a finished product.
Freeform Wire Art Jewelry
Author Gayle Bird is an online education instructor and course developer from Nova Scotia whose tutorials, videos, and artwork have given her the perfect background to write this book. Freeform Wire Art Jewelry: Techniques for Designing with Wire, Beads, and Gems is her new book, just out in April 2015. The book spans 144 beautiful pages, and contains 20 projects of earrings, rings, pendants, necklaces, and even a chain. The book itself is a high quality paperback with the kind of spine that lays pretty flat so that you can have it open on your workbench while you work through the steps.
About the Projects
The book itself starts with an introduction section that discusses the basic tools and materials that are used to create the projects. Gayle then goes into discussing design principles. Also included is a section on color theory, which is helpful (and beautiful), but I didn’t find it particularly necessary when it came to working through the projects. Next Gayle covers some very basic wire techniques that you’ll use and then she discusses a variety of organic wire techniques that will likely be new to you.
Each of the 20 projects begins with a full-page photograph of the finished design. The materials and tools required for each project come next, then a series of numbered, step-by-step photos and diagrams explain every step. I only got stuck a couple of times and was able to figure it out easily by looking ahead at the photos because they were so clear. The photography in this book is really very good. I do a lot of product and close photography for this website, and I can say that it’s really quite difficult to take good photos of shiny wire. Gayle’s photographer manages to use just a touch of back-lighting to make each step wonderfully clear and obvious.
This book is certainly suitable for absolute beginners. The projects begin with a very simple pair of looped earrings (Easy Teardrop Earrings) and get harder and more complex. Gayle urges you to work through the projects from beginning to end because the skills build as you go. However, even the most complex project really isn’t very difficult and I have complete confidence that you will be able to easily complete each project.
You won’t need complex tools, I already had most everything on hand. I like that the wire used wasn’t an expensive precious metal. In fact, Gayle suggests that you use Artistic Wire or Parawire. I liked that because I was able to use my colored wire and some anodized niobium earwires that I had on hand.
My Experience with the Designs
This book isn’t a comprehensive primer on wire wrapping, so you’ll need to choose another book for that type of complex, traditional and controlled designs. Instead, this book takes a novel approach of being quite freeform, loose, and organic with the wire. Most of the loops are formed by hand. If anything I found the ease of this style to need a bit of relaxing on my part. I tended to try too hard to go for stiff wraps and the projects really do look best with a loose, flowing, organic touch. I found the projects in this book to be easy enough that most could be completed in a few minutes. I think you could work through all the projects in the book in a weekend or two.
Freeform Wire Art Jewelry contains a variety of very wearable jewelry that has an open, airy feel that’s perfect for showing off one of a kind gems, beads, and cabochons. Several of the designs work well for showing off sea glass and I was immediately captivated by this Tumbling Twists Bib Necklace. I used my faux sea glass (from my Faux Glass Effects Tutorial) in this necklace. You can see how it shows off the faux glass and lets the light shine through.
I made this necklace in about 30 minutes. It was quite easy, and it was very easy to make my blue and purple necklace look very much like the green one in the book. Not bad for my first try! And I know that I’ll just get better with practice.
Perfect for Polymer Clay Artists
There are lots of jewelry books out there, but I thought this one was particularly good for polymer clay artists. We polymer people tend to focus on techniques that leave us with lots of beautiful cabochons, focal beads, accent beads, and other pretties. But we often get stuck when it comes to making a finished design and frequently resort to just glueing on a bail and stringing some beads. But this book gives the ideas and the skills to create unique freeform wire wrapped pendants, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from our polymer clay creations. While not specifically aimed at polymer artists, this book will help you to take your polymer clay work to the next level. In fact, here is an article of Gayle’s that shows examples of how she used polymer clay with the techniques in her book.
There’s even a project to create a hand-woven neck wire. So you don’t need to buy anything other than some wire to create a complex, innovative, wearable setting for your polymer focal beads. In fact, the Captured Strand Necklace is perfect for using 10-20 irregular oblong beads…most of us have plenty of those in our clay collection.
Where to Buy Freeform Wire Art Jewelry
Gayle’s book retails for $24.99, but most outlets have a better price. You can buy Freeform Wire Art Jewelry on Amazon or your favorite book retailer. It’s also available on both Kindle and Nook for those of you who like the ebook versions.
Many thanks to Gayle Bird for giving me the opportunity to review her book. And thanks to Tommy, her agent, who helped me get a copy of this book for review. I received my copy of the book as a courtesy from the publisher, but as always in my reviews, please know that my opinions are my own. None of the links here are affiliate links, by the way.
Don’t miss Gayle’s website, Gayle Bird Designs. There are lots of tutorials there and because Gayle also works with polymer clay, it’s a really great website to follow for inspiration and new ideas. Yes, Gayle is a polymer addict like the rest of us. In fact, she wrote a review of my Rustic Beads Tutorial and of my Organic Beads Tutorial earlier this year and showed some beautiful examples of those techniques.