Gayle Bird has been making jewelry for almost 20 years. This Canadian artisan hails from the fair island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia - the same province where I spent more than 20 years of my life.  The ruggedly beautiful and rural landscape there is very reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands - if you've ever been to the west coast of Scotland, you'll know what I mean. The relaxed way of life of this close knit and family orientated community probably had an enormous influence on the designer's approach to jewelry making.

That and being in area where sea glass is still abundant is evident in her Craftsy class, Organic Wire Wrapped Pendants.  She and her parents often pick up sea glass on the beach. In her class she actually pointed out to a piece of what she said is probably 17th century sea glass.

Nova Scotia is also known as the one of the shipwreck capitals of North America with a long history - about 400+ years - of bustling naval, shipping and fishing activities. The glass could have come from litter carelessly thrown overboard.The stormy, foggy and sometimes treacherous conditions off the coast have resulted in an estimated 10,000 wrecks littering the sea floor around the province.  Some of the debris do make it to shore as little pieces of history in the sand.

I love her no fuss approach to wire work and totally agree with her that "there is no such thing as perfect."  Gayle does not worry over exact measurements. That is why her style is organic. And learning her style means you will easily come up with unique designs of your own.

Gayle teaches using copper and sterling silver filled wire both of which are inexpensive.  It makes sense to practice with copper and move on to silver pieces.

The class lasts 2.19 hours.  As with all Craftsy classes, the format is such students can watch the class when and where they want and as many times as necessary to learn a technique. You will be able to ask Gayle any question.

Lesson 1
This part covers how to make wire wrapped frames. You may already know how to make this kind of bail integrated frame but Gayle constructs hers in her own way. Always good to learn alternative ways!  Gayle is also a fan of bail making pliers!  See the sharp point on the right pendant below? Gayle shows how to form this part.

Lesson 2
Really easy lesson on how to solder and a micro - torch.  The basics are covered here and will give enough confidence to beginners to try it out. Basic hammering is also demonstrated.

She demonstrates two types of solder you can use.  I also like her easy pickling (mild acid solution to clean up firescale) vinegar based recipe which you can make up at home.  Instead of copper tongs as Gayle uses, other safe tools to immerse (other metals contaminate the pickle) are bamboo or wood chopsticks or plastic tongs.

Gayle isn't the only one I've seen who uses post-pickling rinse water with baking soda (a base) added to neutralize the acid. You don't need to do this unless all you have is one tiny bowl of rinse water! Just using copious amounts of water will be enough to  first dilute and then remove the acid on the metal after pickling and thus stop the oxidation process.  So instead of just 1 small bowl of water, use more bowls of water in succession and swish the metal in the water each time.  Change the water frequently in those bowls if you are doing several pieces.

Strong acids in some pickling solutions need to be neutralized (very carefully) with a base before disposal. But this homemade pickling solution is made with vinegar, a weak acid, so you don't need to neutralize for disposal.  Just let it cool, turn on the tap and pour it down the drain with lots of water. This was how we dispose of acids in the lab. The rule is always to add "acid to water".

 (Note : if you do a lot of patina work and the pickling solution becomes laden with copper compounds, you might want to check with your local authorities about proper disposal.)

Lesson 3
This is where the wire wrapping fun begins.  Gayle teaches how to choose colored beads to form mosaic pendants.  She also shows how to wire wrap undrilled beach glass and capture it within the frame.  I did not know you can use an easy technique to give beach glass a shinier look!

Lesson 4
This lesson moves on to wire wrapping more challenging and slippery stones including cabochons. Gayle actually accomplishes many of the scrolls without tools - just her fingers. This is a great technique to learn as using tools for the wire is awkward when trying to capture the stones.

Lesson 5
This is where Gayle shows how it all comes together.  How the captured elements are attached to the frames and other decorative wire elements added. A nice touch for the class is the instructions for making copper balled wire ends with the torch and then integrating the balled wire scroll decorations into the pieces (see the right piece below).

Lesson 6
This section is basically on how to design looking at things such as balance, flow and texture and so on.  It was fun watching Gayle put together a design while explaining why she chose to do certain steps.

Lesson 7
This final part covers how to finish designs including how to patina the work, polish with a tumbler, sealing. Her unusual addition to the tumblr besides the shot is most interesting and worth a try. Gayle also shows how to make your own clasps.

Just one word about liver of sulfur disposal. An alternative is just to put it in a covered jar and just leave it for a while. The solution will decompose on its own - it just turns into a milky white one at which point you can dispose of it with lots of water down the sink. (see my post on Gun Blue vs Liver of Sulfur)

This class is highly recommended particularly for absolute wire beginners and for those who are into as what Gayle calls the "ish" way of designing. The technique is forgiving and a lot of fun to do. If wire work has been frustrating for you, then this form of wire wrapping removes all that angst.  There is no right or wrong way to design if you use her methods.

The only thing I should mention is Gayle uses a lot of 18 G wire.  Soft temper is very important otherwise the wire will be hard to manipulate.  Copper and sterling silver filled wire (copper core) are therefore good to use.

Gayle is also the author of Freeform Wire Art Jewelry You can read my review here.


The first prize winner of the giveaway will win free access to Gayle's class, Organic Wire Wrapped Pendants. 

If you want a chance to be one of those winners,  please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.

Email subscribers need to scroll down the post they receive, click on Share Comment and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank.

This giveaway is international.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments. (The exception is Facebook - just like/comment on the giveaway status there!!)

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, April 11, 2016. I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!

I do receive a small fee for any products/classes purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.

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