Today we have a very special treat for beaders who love to work with wire! Lisa Van Herik of Woven Wire Studio is a talented designer, creating gorgeous dimensional jewelry and sculpture with wire. She has been working with a variety of techniques and mediums over the last 20 years, and has been featured in museums and galleries, along with her own self publish instructional books. Lisa’s favorite technique is an original wire weaving concept, or tubular braiding. It’s beautiful, versatile, and great for beginners and experts alike.
Inspirational Beading: What is your all time favorite beading or jewelry technique?
Lisa: Of all of the various and plentiful wire jewelry making techniques, my favorite is called Crown Sinnet Braiding. While this is a technique I originally adapted from a wheat weaving how-to book, it’s also a little-known wire jewelry making technique. The weave produced from this technique is essentially a type of round braiding and produces a very lovely, sophisticated woven jewelry product. I’ve spent several years testing, developing and adapting this highly versatile and speedy technique for wire jewelry making.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material to use it with?
Lisa: I’ve always worked in sterling and fine silver wires but given their expense today, copper wire would be my preferred wire for working this technique. Copper is a rather soft material making it a pleasure to work wire. It’s also relatively inexpensive and an excellent wire to begin wire smithing with. Copper wire is also easily available from hardware stores like Ace and comes in small bundles perfect for wire smithing. Adding a darkening patina (color enhancer) to the copper after weaving also gives it a richer look.
Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?
Lisa: If I had to recommend only one technique to learn, this would be the one. Why? It is so very simple to learn, exceptionally fast and lends itself easily to making a wide variety of jewelry including neck rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Anyone, regardless of skill level, can learn this quickly. It’s also very simple to add beads into the weave and vary the look of the weaves you can get by changing the gauges (thicknesses) and types of wires you use.
Inspirational Beading: How can beginners learn this technique?
Lisa: The best way for beginners to learn this wonderful technique is probably to follow the steps in the short tutorial below. Understand that you can change the size of the hole inside your woven wire tube by changing the size of the dowel that you weave onto. Once you finish this first tutorial, you can do amazing things with this technique and beads.
Crown Sinnet Tubular Braiding With Wire Tutorial
Cleaning and Preparing Your Wire
Step 1: Begin by cutting four 9 inch long strands of 22 gauge copper. It’s always a good idea to clean your wire before beginning a weave. That way, it will be much easier to “fine” clean your finished woven piece. While there are many good liquid jewelry cleaners out there, I use Tarnex (in a well ventilated area) to initially clean the wire, followed by a using a polishing cloth. After I use the polishing cloth, I wipe away any residue with a paper towel.
Step 2: Setting up wires to weave. Using a hollow ¼ inch brass tube, tape each of four strands from Step 1 evenly spaced flush against the tube as shown in the picture below. Leave roughly ½ inch of wire sticking out the bottom (past the bottom of the tube).
If you’re using a brass tube, tuck the ends of the wire inside the bottom of the tube as shown.
Step 3: How to hold the wire to weave. Hold the taped end of the dowel with one hand and then grab any one of the four copper strands with the other hand
Begin to Weave
Step 1: Moving counter clockwise, gently place the strand in your hand across the next two strands.
The very next wire that you move in the next step will be Wire #3 (since it is directly behind the wire you just moved (Wire #1).
STEP 2: Complete the move. Immediately grab the strand behind the strand you just moved. (Original Wire #3).
Important Tip in Weaving: This is the most important move in this weaving process and the one that confuses people the most. Consider this: once you move a strand it now is located in a new position. The strand to move next is the one directly behind the strand you just moved into that new position.
Another important thing to do when moving strands, is to place or gently pull them into a tight weave, making sure all wires in the weave are close to one another.
It is also extremely important to keep all four of your wire strands at equal distances from one another around the dowel while you’re weaving. What this means is that once you move a wire strand into its new position, make sure you gently move the other wires to be equadistant from one another.
Step 3: Continue the weave. Move the new strand (ie; the one you just picked up behind the first strand you moved) across the next two strands in a counter clockwise motion.
Continue moving one strand over the next two strands, then pick up the strand directly behind where the first strand was moved.
Move this new strand over the next two strands, then pick up the strand directly behind the strand you just moved, etc. Continue in this fashion weaving around and up your dowel until you’ve completed the desired length of your woven tube. Once you’ve woven several times around your dowel, you should start seeing a pattern in the wire.
This is really an extremely simple weaving technique although you must remember to do it exactly as stated here to keep from confusing your strands. One of the things I do to keep on track is to grab the strand behind the one I just moved before I drop the one I just moved.
Important Note: When moving a strand across one of the other wires, try and pull the new wire that is being moved up just a bit, sliding it down the dowel before laying it on top of the next two wires.
You can find full instructions for wire braiding techniques on Lisa’s website, Beadifferent, along with more fun wirework techniques and ideas. For a fun and totally neat project preview, check out Lisa’s sugar cube bead tutorial video.
Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
Tutorial Copyright 2010 Lisa Van Herik
Subscribe to Inspirational Beading
Get inspired on Facebook