Metal in Massachusetts: Wire At Snow Farm

Free Form Twisted Wire Earring that I made at Snow Farm Craft School

Free Form Twisted Wire Earring by Patricia C Vener

Snow Farm has a dedicated metals studio. I love that it is old and well used and that they seem to have everything! (Or almost lmost everything. Well, everything we needed, anyway. Or Alyssa had it in her on tool box – and she shared! )

The instructor, Alyssa Dee Krauss, begins with introductions then segues into the first demonstration and tool introduction. I’m hooked! We are starting the course with copper wire, quickly followed by sterling silver. And the first thing we learn is how to straighten curled, bent, and kinked wire. It is one of the most relaxing and satisfying tasks ever! Imagine, you clamp the end of your wire in a vise. You grab the other end with chain nose pliers. And you pull; ever so gently at first, (because this is new and you don’t know what will happen). Pull more! Gently you increase the force until the wire seems to sigh as it straightens. You can feel it give!

When I feel the wire relax and stretch any tensions that I am feeling, dissipate as well.

Wow.

It works not just with copper wire but with the sterling silver wire, too. Alyssa suggests that breaking the wire by over pulling is fine because this teaches us something about the metal’s limits. Copper is softer than silver but the pulling technique works for both metals. This does also harden the wire a bit so we don’t do it over and over and over.

Wire has many possibilities. We practiced forming head pins ear wires, pin backs, and (especially in my case) other free forms. Alyssa suggested I could do production pieces based on one of the free forms, especially if I build a jig so I can repeat the wraps consistently. (I’m planning on reading up on how to make my own jig at some point.)

Using copper wire I even came up with designs that can go from earrings to tabletop decor. Wear ’em then display ’em. Cool.

My Copper Wire Free Form Experiments

My Copper Wire Free Form Experiments

I also learned how to make hoop and loop earrings. Also how to make the little catches which – oops – I put wrong way around on one of my earrings. Thankfully, I was able to fix that!

This is fun stuff! I am going to start replacing the mass produced earwires on my ooak bead woven earrings with my own handmade earwires. I am so excited about these new skills!

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