Book Review: Steel Wire Jewelry

When Lark Books asked me to review Steel Wire Jewelry by Brenda Schweder, I was excited. I like working with different types of wire, and use sterling silver, gold-filled, copper, and brass. I’ll now be adding steel. I know some jewelry designers prefer to stick to silver and/or gold and I understand it, they are beautiful. But I also know that with the price of metals these days, copper, steel, and brass are more affordable options that are getting plenty of notice. And while the author does an excellent job explaining the properties of steel wire and how to work with it, the designs and projects in the book can be made using other types of wire as well.

The author starts with historical information about steel, beautiful inspirational pieces of steel jewelry and informative explanations on how to work with steel. There is an excellent overview of tools and equipment for working with steel wire. The author also tackles what I think are the biggest two issues with steel wire: (1) When you purchase steel wire from the hardware store it is dirty – as in the minute you touch it your hands have black stuff all over them, and (2) Steel rusts. None of us want a customer to have a garment stained by rust from a piece of jewelry we made. Those problems are addressed.

After the technical stuff, the projects start. And look at the first project in the photo above – 12 earring designs. I love them and think it’s great that so many designs are possible for someone just starting out with steel wire (or any wire). I want to make the ones at the top with all of the dangles first. She calls them Giraffe’s Eyelashes.

It was hard for me to select just a few images to show you. The projects are very imaginative and even whimsical at times. Found objects are sprinkled in here and there. The projects get more complex as you move along, but new skills and techniques are explained very well.

I know I should talk more about the technical details of the book, but I’m too excited by the projects. Like this one. Not only can you have a wardrobe of steel earrings, you can have rings too. Bold statement rings are very popular right now and I think these are achievable even for those who are new to wirework.

And this necklace. There are plenty of gorgeous necklace designs in the book, but this one is my favorite. One of the first things I noticed was how the white pieces were held with prongs. I thought back and didn’t remember seeing any mention of soldering or creating tabs. I had to see how the prongs were made and will tell you this – if you can’t solder but can drill or find metal already drilled that has holes in the right places, this project’s technique on how to make prong settings is worth the price of admission alone. Just saying.

Did I mention that I love this book? I think the designs are fun and modern. And I don’t know about you, but I’m able to play and experiment so much better when I’m not worried about how much something costs.

Disclaimer: One copy of this book was provided to me by Lark Books at no cost for review purposes. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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