I’ve done a lot of interviews over the past two years on this blog, and I figure y’all are getting a little tired of my questions. (Okay, I’ve been in Asheville, North Carolina, for six years now, but “y’all” still doesn’t sound right from me even when I type it.)
So, when I was ready to interview Janice Berkebile and Tracy Stanley—owners of the business Wired Arts, fabulous teachers, renowned jewelry designers, and the authors of the new book Making Wire & Bead Jewelry: Artful Wirework Techniques—I came up with what I think proved to be a better idea: Ask Janice and Tracy to interview one another instead.
They were remarkably good sports about what a skeptic might have perceived as my avoiding work on the weekend.
Enjoy the interview, and click here to go to an earlier blog post with two project PDFs from the book (one from Tracy and one from Janice, naturally) and a collection of preview photos of projects in Making Wire & Bead Jewelry.
Okay, first question: Tracy, what was your favorite part of writing Making Wire & Bead Jewelry?
My favorite part of writing the book was knowing that I could put out what I consider to be good, solid techniques in an easily followed format.
I also wanted to reach more students than I ever could in the past, and now those people who do take classes with me finally have a book to go home with that they can use as a reference in their wireworking ventures.
Question: What do you hope people will take away from this book, Janice?
Thanks for asking, Tracy! To me the most important thing is technique. Because the book has so many step-by-step images, the processes are easy to follow visually, making this the go-to guide for wire-bending techniques.
After technique, the rest is just plain wire-bending fun!
Which of your projects is your favorite, Tracy, and why?
My favorite project to make is the Rock and Roll by the Sea necklace. It has a little bit of everything in it, from my favorite—a double loop wrap—to coiled eye links. It’s hard to get bored making this one because there are so many fun components, and every necklace you make looks so different depending on how you combine the components, beads, and charms!
My favorite piece to wear is the Wire-Wrapped Bangle. I wear mine every day. The specific one I wear every day is made up of all metal beads. This bracelet is so comfortable and it goes well combined with other bracelets.
How about you, Janice: What is your favorite project you created for the book?
It’s hard for me to choose. My two favorite techniques are making spirals and basket weave. For that reason, I would choose my Beach Pebble Bracelet and Wire Pod.
As far as everyday wear, I choose my Beach Pebble Bracelet. It has simple techniques that I would use every day, especially the spiral. The spiral, one of the common forms found in nature, is one of my favorite techniques.
While we were writing the book, I made a Beach Pebble Bracelet, and it has only left my wrist once since then. That was at the Denver airport. I took it off for the TSA and promptly forgot it!
Some jewelry is just meant to be yours, though. The Denver airport was on its game and got it back to me in no time, so it’s safe and sound on my wrist again.
And basket weave—I have always been a fan of pods. With the Wire Pod project, you learn the basket weave technique, which is a soothing and tranquil process. All the while you’re creating a pod form, and then you get to stuff it with your favorite beads. It doesn’t get any better than that! [Editor’s note: The Wire Pod pendant is one of the projects posted as a PDF to download in this earlier post.)
So, tell me a little bit about how you began wire bending?
My father was very much a tinkerer, and I believe I picked up my interest in making things from him.
I bent a little wire when I was a teenager but didn’t really take it anywhere at that point.
After I began teaching mostly seed-bead classes, I saw a need for a good basic wireworking class at the store.
Lynne Merchant used to come teach twice a year, and I saw that so many of her students weren’t prepared with the basics before taking her classes. My goal was to get them comfortable with the tools and the wires so they could get the most out of Lynne’s classes when she came.
As my teaching career went on, I realized that my passion was for wire and metal. I discontinued teaching the seed-bead work and have focused exclusively on wire and metal classes since then.
Janice, what do you think are some of the most important things a wireworker should focus on?
An important aspect in wire bending is form. Using the techniques we share in our book will help people learn proper ways to create good wire forms.
Do you have another aspect that you see as important, Tracy?
Quality tools will make the learning easier. Buy the best you can afford. You will never regret purchasing a quality tool and then you will never wonder if the tool is working against you.
After that, it’s all about practice. Pick a technique and practice, practice. Treat it like homework. Give yourself at least 15 to 20 minute a day to practice that piece. When you feel you have mastered it, move on to another.
The more you have the tools and wire in your hands, the easier it will come.
Is there anything else we should share, Janice?
Janice & Tracy:
Join us, won’t you, with our new book Making Wire & Bead Jewelry: Artful Wirework Techniques. Get your tools out and bend some wire!