Fasten your seatbelts!
The beautiful flowing wire of the
very talented and inspirational
jewellery designer and tutor ...
(of WIRE GUILD)
is here to share her story ...
I was born in Bridlington a little seaside fishing town on the
East Coast of the U.K. My mother ran a Bed and Breakfast
and my dad was a diesel mechanic. Mom, also ran a
small shop selling wool and fabric in the out of season months,
so the idea of having my own business was pretty fixed
from an early age. We moved to Halifax when I was about
9, where my mom took a shop in the Piece Hall. That is
an amazing building and at the time, the shop units were
only let to crafts people who used the units as both sales
and workshop areas. It was a great place to grow up and
I learned a huge amount of different crafts.
I now live in Southern Ireland with my two sons in the
rural idyll. I have two dogs, two cats and a small army of
chickens. It's wonderful!
When I left school, I went to college to study silver smithing, but
it wasn't what I expected and my swirly designs were dismissed
by the tutors who were more interested in teaching me how to
create vases and teapots. So, I left and trained to be a veterinary
nurse. I have had quite a few different jobs: I have worked at a
boarding school as a matron, an electricity company training
call centre staff, a bank doing the same thing and I also trained
as a Hypnotherapist! However, through all that time, I always
created things - especially jewellery!
When I had my youngest son, I decided it was time to run my
own business and that's when I started making jewellery full time.
Wire was a passion, it was so far removed from what I had learned
at college and it allowed me so much freedom, that I was hooked!
amazing jewellery school, run by Teresa Speer (BA Hons jewellery).
She is resident lecturer for many of the disciplines taught at the
School and has exhibited both nationally and internationally - and
is both an inspirational jeweller and teacher!
When I first found 'In the Studio', I was a student taking courses
in stone setting and casting and although I dabble with lots of other
techniques, I always seem to come back to wire! Teresa saw my
work and was really impressed and asked me if I was interested in
teaching. So several months ... and one teacher training course
later ... I started teaching classes at In The Studio, this was about
14 years ago. I loved it from the first hesitant class, where I was
so nervous, that I created a pendant back-to-front! I always really
look forward to my classes, we have wire wrapping and weaving
courses and I try to pack in as much as I can in the two days. On the
wrapping course, we make at least a dozen rings, two pendants
plus a bangle!
Just recently, I have set up WIRE GUILD.
Wire Guild has been one of those things rattling around in my
head for years and with the success of things like FACEBOOK,
I had an awful lot of followers from other countries who wanted
me to teach them. Books are really not my thing, too many
restrictions from publishers, so I started creating tutorials on
'YOU TUBE' using pictures and voice over, describing what I was
doing and these turned out to be very popular, so I then moved on
to video ...
After two years practicing on You Tube, I found a web designer and
together (he did all the hard work) we created:
WIRE GUILD an online teaching facility for wire jewellery.
Each member gets two full video tutorials a month, a selection of
skill set videos that demonstrate techniques and small items, a
discounted shop for members only, plus access to the forum. The
forum is already growing to be a wonderful place where people can
share tips, help, suppliers and pictures of their work and of course,
I am always on hand if someone needs any help.
I wanted to make sure this was an affordable thing, especially
as so many people have been affected by the current economic
climate and often, if you want to watch a video tutorial, they can
be as much as £20 ($32) each, whilst membership to Wire Guild
is only £3.70 ($6) a month for two tutorials!
My design inspiration often comes from the gems, or stones I use.
They have to be wrapped in a certain way to ensure that they are
safe and secure and that in turn, lends itself to the wire flowing
in a certain way. I don't really draw designs, I just start with the
wire and let it happen! When making a tutorial, I will take the
first piece and then think about how a beginner would manage
to make that piece, I then start to alter and amend the design so
that it can be created by anyone. I like all my tutorials to be
accessible and creatable by anyone, whatever their skill level.
I'm a great believer that with enough instructions, anyone can
I particular love to oxidize copper. I really have no love for bright
untreated copper, although it's nice to use I dislike how brash it
can look. However, once it's oxidized, I just love that antiqued
mellow look and the way it emphasises all your wires and the
gaps between. It's definitely my favourite thing at the moment,
but if you asked me again in a month, it most possibly could be
something different - there is always something new to inspire
and motivate me...
I do quite a lot of craft fairs, although not as many as I did when
I lived in the UK. I still travel back to the UK as some fairs are
too good to miss. I like the fairs that are themed - where you can
dress up - everyone gets into such a great mood that the whole
atmosphere is just electric and that always helps with the sales.
I particularly love Ludlow Medieval Faire, it is brilliantly run
with an amazing atmosphere and I get to wear a long dress and
a cloak - win, win! I also supply and sell my jewellery in shops
and galleries and of course, I sell on ETSY.
Promotion is an on-going constant thing, I always wear some
of my jewellery and carry business cards. I give out my cards
anywhere: to doctors, in shops, or on an aeroplane! You just
need to be proud of what you do. As soon as you are, it's easy
to say: "hey, this is what I do" ... you will be surprised by the results!
I am currently working towards a large show coming up in
August this year in London, so I am building up my stock.
The clientele of the show is a little different to a normal show, as
it is a world convention for science fiction and fantasy writers,
therefore, my imagination can go that bit further and wilder than
normal - lots of over the top jewellery and quite a few headpieces!
The advice I would give to others, is to TRUST YOURSELF!
I know it's hard and you are always your own worst critic, but
if a friend or neighbour sees something you have made and says
it's lovely, or pretty, or stunning, then BELIEVE them! Don't
go away thinking that they were only saying that to make you
feel better. If they didn't like it, the conversation would have
just moved away ... so take the compliments and BELIEVE.
Also, ENJOY what you're making! If I don't like what I am
creating ... it shows!
My current aspirations for the future are to build and grow the
Wire Guild by adding new members. I want the forum to be
a really happy buzzing place - after all, we are the home of
'Happy Wrapping' and the forum should reflect that!
Eventually, I would like to add other skills to the tutorials, maybe
other Guilds like Precious Metal Clay Guild or Chain Maille Guild,
or, even a Knitting or Silk Painting Guild ...
Whatever happens, I will always continue to make the jewellery
I love and to share that knowledge with others. After all,
it's what I love doing!
Happy Wrapping - Love, Rachel x