It's Work Table Wednesday! And oh....what a lovely, lovely mess.....
All of my favorites are here....bumpy cream colored pearls, Czech tulip beads, ball end head pins, my Wolfie pliers, more pearls! 28 gauge wire.....and Russian Gold Plated brass stampings and filigree.
We just began to stock the Russian Gold Plated Brass again, after phasing it out due to finishing difficulties a couple of years ago.
Last winter a specialty finisher and I put our heads together to see what we could do to resurrect it and get it right this time. I wanted a finish that would be the closest thing to the old Haskell pieces:
We went with a 22 karat base and some more steps in the finishing process....and I think we are as close as we can get. After all, the complete original recipe was a secret, and I am told, contained some elements that aren't even legal for use in finishing in the United States any more.
SO: now it's time to play.
I've always enjoyed working with wire and beads in the vintage style. I'm no pro but I'm convinced few are/would be. Even in the photos of how the old stuff was made, you can see wonky beads and messy wiring. Only so much is possible! And that's why, wherever possible, you want to cover the backs of anything you wire.
I've been fiddling around tonight trying to get a little speed in beading the little leaves. I'm not a beader, nor am I a wire artist. I am an assemblage artist who admires this style. What I understand is the vintage look and placement, balance and flow. So armed with that and my spool of wire.....let's see what happens.
I beaded these leaves:
Actually they look better in my hand, as all the wire doesn't jump up in your face as it does in a photo. But I am striving to get the work tighter, and neater.
First I cut approximately 18 inches of wire.....maybe that's too long but so far, it seems good.
I put about half of the wire through the first top side hole, then I add just 2-3 seed beads, and then continue pulling the wire through the hole on the other side. Then, to secure my work as I go, where possible, I cross them and tighten them up in the back, pulling one through, adding beads to cover, graduating as I go. In and out, crossing and twisting one twist only, as much as possible til I finish the leaf.
If enough wire remains, I might come up through the piece in a strategic place and begin to wire in another element:
Eventually I will need to go ahead and finish off that wire:
Now I will cross the wires again:
Then I will gently but firmly twist them. Can't go too hard, they will snap off. Once it's nice and neat, I will trim it back.
Actually that twist, while it will work, should be more coiled, this looks a bit like I just wrapped one wire around the other. I didn't. I twisted them both together, and this is what gives strength to the finished piece.
Now I will twist and coil this into the back:
Here is the tuck, so it will be smooth and not poke out or catch on anything:
You can actually see there is also another piece I'd twisted off, too. That's what you do when your wire gets short, twist it and tuck it and then start wiring again with a new piece.
Now this mess of wire needs to be covered. There is really not a leaf made to back this builder piece, so I will need to choose something else.....once I get the design finished. (It is nowhere near finished yet). This one MIGHT work, but I will have to deal with some edges of the backer showing in the front. Hmmmm.
And sometimes, you can't cover ALL the wire. You just do your best. Usually I use the same builder (front piece) and the same backer and no problem. But using this leaf, I won't be able to.
How about this.....
That might work after a fashion! I will have to bend those edges around into the front and make them work with the design, though.
I'll have to play around with that. Or maybe I have something else in my stash that is even better.
These little leaves are not hard to bead and you do them the same way....
Yep, the wire should have been tighter. It will be, with the next one. You don't see it much until you look at these crazy up close photos!
They really make you proof your work!
I could back the small leaf as there is available an opposing piece:
I wouldn't do that, though, unless this piece was going to be a charm, dangler, or a pendant. If it goes into the builder as part of the assemblage, it will make the piece thick and cumbersome and throw the design "off".
Well, tomorrow it's a whole day of this, and I am learning buckets of stuff just by doing and experimenting. That's pretty much the way it goes, trial and error. There is not a whole lot written on this subject, so you learn by doing and by looking at the old Haskell, Hagler, and Robert pieces. There are even some Five and Dime Style (lower end) pieces signed Made in Japan, that were made this way, wire, beads and filigree.
Here is a piece I successfully made last week:
I need to find a way to sign my work. I could get a stamp made, or just bond on a tiny brass blank and engrave my name, as I usually do.
This was frustrating but also fun! The more I worked along, the more I enjoyed it.
You can find Russian Gold Plated brass here at B'sue Boutiques: