Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review - Spotlight on Wire

By on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 3 Comments

There are many wire jewelry books out there but few are as truly innovative and exciting as this latest book I just received from Kalmbach Publishing for review.

I also did not need to read the introduction to know Melissa Cable and her two co-designers behind the book, Spotlight On Wire are experienced wire work instructors.  As an instructor myself, I appreciate how tutorials are written especially from the perspective of the learner.

The book is just brimming with new ideas, tips and techniques I've not encountered before. Intermediate and advanced wire and metal workers looking for inspiration will not be disappointed.

The book is divided into 5 main areas - Woven Wire, Texturing Wire Strips, Heavy Wire and Chain and Wire.  There are no project times simply because these will vary depending on individual skill. However, the projects are labelled with the require skill sets or materials needed like BL (basic loops), WW (wire wrapping), HM (hammered metal), JR (jump rings) and PT (patinas).   Click a preview of the book and clearer pictures than the images shown here.

The authors recommend a number of tools to increase your creativity. If you don't have a simple metal hole puncher, now might be a good time to purchase one. This tool is definitely under used in my opinion.  Punching holes in findings where there aren't any before will allow you to do more wiring such as these "Captive Clusters", the second project in the Woven Wire section.

"Jeweled Wires" is also in the Woven Wirer section :

Melissa covers two methods of adding texture to metal. One is hammering using different types of hammers or stamping tools.  The other is using a rolling mill on metal strips. Rolling mills are usually way too expensive for starving artists like us but she has a solution. Get brass texture plates from metal clay suppliers and a pasta machine! Her tips on how to make this unusual combination work is one of the highlights of the book. Pasta machines are not just for polymer clay artisans!

A couple of the designs which showcase this technique is the pendant on the book cover and this bracelet :

In another section, she also introduced another substitute for a very expensive tool - a corrugator - which adds wavy elements to wire or metal strips. One of those, which I wrote about here, will set you back a few hundred dollars.

However, many artisans like her resort to the humble tube wringer (shown in the picture below) which is used to squeeze out tubes containing industrial gels and pastes. Melissa warns it takes some practice to use one to create jewelry such as the "Berry Vines" below.  She has some great tips on how to get even corrugation.

Lateral thinking is part of the creative process and these designers have it spades.  If you have a beading loom collecting dust, consider using it to make awesome chain and wire work bracelets like they did for Cristina's Cuff design below.

I've only touched on a few highlights. The book is full of gems, pun intended. I highly recommend it if you are an aspiring wire and metal artisan hoping to expand your range.  It's definitely going into my list of favorite books.


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. Looks like a great book. How do you get so many to review? They all look wonderful. Thanks for posting. That's how I usually find new books, by reading other's reviews.

  2. Publishers send me books to review. Another way to check out new books is with your local lending library. Reviews or actually getting your hands on a copy will help you assess if the book is for you. For example the book above is definitely not for beginners.

    We are all at different places along our jewelry making journey and our individual tastes are also dissimilar. The final decision on whether the book is right rests with you.

  3. This lovely book is probably beyond my caliber of metal expertise but I've a friend who's a wonderful wire jewelry artist and this would be an ideal gift for her. :)