Previously, our heroine has been slogging through the wilderness, accompanied by her muse's wicked step-sister Uglificia. Overcoming two challenges, she is now poised to pursue one more test to release her true wiresmith's muse from imprisonment and banish the annoying, banal and technically inept Uglificia forever (well, actually until the next time she sneaks in, but this is a story, and there are conventions, you know).
Now that I had almost caught up with my Year of Jewelry committment, I wanted to make something quite different. The design that had been bumping around in my head while I was struggling with the very free-form trees was much more ordered, and I was eager to try it out.
Once again I worked in hardware store materials, this time copper and dark annealed steel wire embellished with some of the half-kilo of matte black #11 seed beads that I am unlikely to use up if I live to be a hundred. The base frame is 1 inch on a side 18g hardware store copper. The warp wires are 24g hardware store copper, fastened with something like larkshead knots on each side of the frame. The weft wires are dark annealed steel wire also from the hardware store. The spool says it is 28g, but it is exactly the same size as the 24g copper. This is not uncommon using hardware store materials, part of the exchange for being so cheap and easily available. I used a simple 3-strand basketweave with 15 strands of wire in each direction. I ran another course of the 18g wire around the outside coiled with 28g copper and adding a bead every 5th coil. This created a nice border and also minimized any messy appearance of the selvedges.
The first challenge on this piece was the wire hardness. Hardware store copper is dead soft, and I mean softer than soft. It also work-hardens very suddenly, becoming brittle just after being as soft as overcooked pasta. Okay, I can allow for that. But add in the steel, which is a lot harder, something between half-hard and full hard, and even in this small gauge it gets interesting. Still, it was okay until I got to the part of fastening the ends of the weft wires to the frame.
Which lead to the second challenge: What do I do with the short ends? There are a lot of them, there really isn't any place to weave them in, and they are a bit short to be trusted to stay on their own. Not to mention that they are prickly and the steel is too stiff to just smish into place with my pliers like the copper warp wires. That is really the reason for the outer frame, however nice it looks. The snipped off ends are captured between the two courses on the outside, which helps lock them in place and also recesses the sharp ends between the two big wires so they won't scratch or snag. The beads also help prevent the wire ends from unraveling by the simple fact of being in the way.
YAAY! I'm thinking like a wiresmith again! Begone, Uglificia!
So, how do you like it? Do you think I could say it was a little bit steampunk, with the steel wire and all? How do you like the idea of a woven cuff like this? Inquiring minds (mine at least) want to know.
As always don't forget to stop by the Year of Jewelry for beautiful things made by beautiful people.