Saturday, 20 October 2012


There's something very personal about making jewellery and I feel very protective of my finished pieces. As a result, I have only sold my work face to face. However, I have been under increasing pressure to open up an on line shop. So, for all those people who want to own a twistedwhisker piece, but don't live close enough to come and visit me, I have opened my very own Etsy shop. My product photographer spent this afternoon working on my first batch of items and they are now available for you to buy. Thank you to all the lovely people who have asked for this. And yes, that is my neck and wrist modelling!

Product photographer at work!

Monday, 15 October 2012



The wonderful multi-talented MagicFlying Boots over at The Other Fickle Pixie recently made a set of lamp work beads for me. They are a lovely set, made on a base of purple glass with light blue raised dots, the focal bead also has red raised dots. They have sat on my work bench for a good few weeks whilst I  tried to decide what to make with them. I wanted something that would show them off to their full potential and not drown them out in lots of fussy wirework or swamp them in other spacer beads.

Lampwork bead set

Eventually I decided on a simple S link chain, the lampies connected using wrapped loops. I found some lovely pony seed beads which change colour depending on hour the light hits them – ranging from purple to blue and just a hint of green to contrast the focal. The focal dangles from the chain on a spiral headpin and the chain continues, using simple S links and pony bead units, round to the back where it's fastened with a hook and loop. A lovely elegant necklace for some beautiful beads!

Finished necklace with lampwork beads

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Stone charms

One of the lovely things that can happen when having a clear out is you find forgotten treasure. My lovely other half recently discovered some stones that he had polished years ago. He asked me if I though I could do anything with them – they aren't beads and so aren't drilled but I jumped at the chance!

The selection of polished stones
The stones are a wonderful mix of colours with a good depth to their shine. I thought they'd be perfect to make caged charms with. Starting with the quartz and the blue stones I made drop charms by caging them in 0.4 silver plate wire. When looking through my stash for a chain to hang them from I couldn't find anything that I thought looked right, so I broke out the jump rings and made a simple double link chain-mail bracelet. The drops were then hung from it using the same size jump rings. I'm very happy with the result.

The finished charm bracelet

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bird's nest

I love making wire bird's nests. There's something wonderfully creative about forming the shapes out of straight wire, then nestling you bead "eggs" in the centre. Once made they can be hung with jump rings from ear hooks or necklaces. My preference is to mount them on a ring or bracelet shank, a really extravagant option would be to make a bracelet just of bird's nests - each attached to the next with jump rings!

Bird's nest bracelet and ring, using silver plate wire and blue glass "eggs"

Monday, 27 August 2012

Memory wire bracelets

These last two months have possibly been the busiest two of my life. Including one very exhausting but rewarding week that will be life changing. At times like this it's nice to fall back on simple skills and so I've done a big batch of memory wire bracelets. It's a type of jewellery making I often overlook as the focus is on the beads rather than the wire. But the results are striking in their simplicity. The bracelets give a wonderful stacking effect that can be either chunky and bold or fine and delicate. Here's a small selection of what I've been making.....

Green bracelets with butterfly charm detail and red bracelet
Pink nugget bracelet and purple mixed bead bracelet

Monochrome bracelet and chunky pink bracelet 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cat interference


Towards the end of the week I was making a summer cuff; using gold plate wire, lucite flowers and bee charms. It's a long make with approximately 15m of wire, 45 flowers and over 4 hours of work. My cats respond differently to the prolonged concentration. Mog, the older one, sees it as competition for my attention and I have to stop her trying to sit on my work. Silent Bob, our 14 month old boy tries to join in. It's because of this that I almost dread taking a break on a long make. This time, I heard a thump from my beading room, some scrabbling noises and then Silent Bob came trotting towards me, bag of lucite flowers bouncing against him as he proudly brought them to me. He'd had to fight with them so there was a hole in the bag and he'd left a trail of flowers through the house. It took forever to clean up.

I'm really looking forward to the day I have a studio separate to the house!

Silent Bob being playful

Saturday, 9 June 2012

New tools

I'm feeling an odd mixture of excited and sad today. My new tools have arrived, which makes me excited, but that means retiring my old cutters and that make me sad.

Like a lot of people, when I first started making jewellery I “borrowed” a pair of wire cutters and a pair of pliers from a standard tool kit. These are fine to use while you are just starting out, a cheep way to take that first step. But once you know that this is something you want to do, they just don't do the job. This is especially true if you want to do wire work. Standard pliers will scratch and mark your wire, the cutters will not give a nice flush cut. As for turning a neat loop or starting a spiral without round nosed pilers, it's just impossible.

So I started out on what has become an obsession for pliers. My first buy was a pair of round nose and some proper flat nosed pliers. Next came my first love. My flush cutters. At just under £10 I thought them to be quite expensive. Nicely weighted with cushioned handles that fit in my hand perfectly. And they had cool purple and green stripy handles! Best of all they cut, at least to one side of the blades, with a reasonably flush face.

They have seen a LOT of use, those cutters. Their flush cutting ability is no longer up to my standard of wirework, resulting in a lot of filing of wire ends. But I was loyal to my first cutters. This spring however, I started to notice that they just weren't slicing through the wire as easily as before. And then, horror of horrors, a chip! Right near the tip of the cutters where they get the most use! I was devastated.

Time to finally upgrade.

I found a set of Xuron tools – flush cutters, round nosed pliers and flat nosed pliers – in a little tool roll that seamed to be perfect. After reading a lot of reviews for them and other makes I decided to take the plunge.

My new pliers in their tool roll
And they are wonderful! The flush cutters are so very sharp and the cut they make so very smooth – on BOTH sides of the cutting blades. And they have a lovely point perfect for getting into tight little coils of wire where an end can be nicely hidden. The flat nosed pliers are equally wonderful, very narrow, just perfect for tucking in ends or encouraging weaving to go where I want it to. The round nosed pliers are taking a bit more getting used to. Their point is much finer than my old ones and so fantastic for starting spirals, but they don't get as wide at the base as my other sets so aren't as useful for turning different sized loops or making cones. 

From left to right, flat nosed pliers, flush cutters and round nosed pliers
 As for the old cutters. I'm keeping hold of them. It might be sentimental, but it just would be the same to look into my tool kit and not see their stripy handles!

Monday, 4 June 2012


We've had quite a lot of rain this bank holiday weekend! 

Personally, I love the rain. I like the way light sparkles through it as the rain first comes in, and the way it makes everything feel like a bit of an adventure. Then there's the smell! I might think differently if I had an outdoor job, until then I'll carry on getting inspiration from rain drops.


Saturday, 26 May 2012


I have a small confession to make.


Despite them being the first kind of jewellery I really started to express myself with wearing as an adult, I don't tend to make them very much. Usually if I make a pair it's to “complete” a set. The earrings are there purely to finish off the bracelet or necklace, all the real design has gone into the bigger pieces.
I think it's because they are so small, restrained by the necessity of being light enough not to pull on ears, I feel that larger items offer more scope for design. And yet when it comes to wearing jewellery, they are still my first choice. This is obviously something I needed to address!

So, when a cut short holiday this week gave me a lot more time than I usually get, I decided to give myself a challenge:

Make a stand alone pair of earrings every day
They should not be part of a set and they should show some form of design and expression. 

I found it very hard to start with, falling back on just hanging a bead from a hook (although, even that is surprisingly effective with the addition of bead caps and hand made ear wires).

Bone dagger and pumice drop earrings

Purple peanut bead earrings

I needed a little bit of outside inspiration. I got this in the form of a butterfly wing earring designed by Abby Hook. These reminded me of what it is about working with wire that I truly love – the feel of it bending, the way it forms such natural lines. This was the break through I was looking for! The small size of the earring need not be a design restraint, if looked at from another angle it can free you from the need of heavy structural components. 

Butterfly wing earrings

All the pairs have inspired me to think of other larger pieces I could make to go with them that I just wouldn't have thought of without making the earrings first.
I am very happy with the results of this week, and will definitely be making more stand alone earrings in the future.
Turquoise drop earrings
Coil and crystal earrings
Washer earrings
Pink and black spiral earrings
Line up of the eight earring pairs
One other important thing I learnt from this exercise: Photographing dangling earrings with a standard camera is REALLY hard. Next time I should take advantage of living with a professional photographer and all his kit! To try to do it myself once is learning. To do it twice would be foolish.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Stress buster

After a stressful day there really is nothing better than to sit in a room full of wire and shiny beads!

Put this set together using up-cycled miracle beads, bead caps and 1mm silver plated copper wire. (OK so there's some chain, jump rings and findings in there, but they're the dull bits!)

Miracle bead set
I went into my little den all wound up and within a few minutes the familiar actions and feel of the wire forming had soothed me into an almost Zen like calm!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Step-by-step: How to make a daisy ring

I'm over a week late in blogging about the wonderful Crafternoon hosted by craftydistraction back on Saturday the 5th, but I do have a good reason for this! Jenny (theotherficklepixie) and Lou challenged me to come up with a better way of attaching their wirework daisies to rings. I had come up with my method that evening, but my wonderful photographer has been injured and was unable to take the step by step photos. As the detail I wanted went beyond my point and shoot ability I decided to wait. He is still in pain, but kindly agreed to help me out, so here's my guide!

Gather your tools.

I used 1mm silver plated copper wire, flush cutters, round nosed and flat nosed pliers and a ring mandrel (yes my mandrel has American sizes, but it does the job and it's easy enough to convert)

The tools

To make a daisy with a 4cm diameter:

Flush cut approximately 60cm of wire.
Measure 10cm in from one end and make a 90 degree bend with the point of your pliers.
I found it easier to measure the next stage before making the petals, but if you prefer to do it by eye, skip this part. From the bend, mark off every 2cm up to 24cm.
Using the base of your round nosed pliers, bend the wire back on itself in a 'U' shape at the first mark.
At the second mark use the tip of the pliers to bend the wire back in a 'V' shape.
Continue along the wire, bending alternately with the tips and the thicker base of your round nosed pliers until you get to your last mark (this will become the base of your sixth petal). At the last mark make a 90 degree bend away from your work.
You should be left with a comb shape with a 10cm tail at one end and a much longer tail at the other end:

Wire comb

Use your fingers to pull the comb round into a daisy shape, with the tight bends in the centre:


Use the 10cm tail to wrap around the base of the petals, pulling them in together as tight as you can and leaving 2.5cm to 3cm unused.
You should now have a daisy with a short tail sticking out the back, and a long one sticking out the front:

The wrapped daisy.

On the long tail at the front of the daisy, move approximately 7cm up the wire and make a 90 degree bend. Grasp the wire here with your round nosed pliers, holding the bend, pointing up the loose end:

How to hold for the spiral

Use the round nose pliers to start a spiral around this point. This can be a little tricky, but try to make it as tight as you can. You will be left with a spiral with a tail of wire sticking out from the middle.

Starting the spiral

Continue twisting your spiral until you get down to the daisy. Trim the remaining wire (the stuff sticking out the middle of your spiral) to about 3cm and feed through the centre of your daisy. This process will distort your spiral so use your fingers to shape the spiral over the daisy centre. Use flat nosed pliers to make sure you've pulled the tail through tightly.
If, at this point your cat decides to jump up and start rubbing and headbutting your hands, you will get fur in the wirework as I did. Try to distract them with food and toys :)

Pulling the wire tail through to the back of the daisy

Make your ring shank. I used a few wraps of wire around my ring mandrel. You need to make it slightly bigger (about half a size) than you need as the next step will take up room inside the ring:

Making the ring shank

Push the ring shank against the bottom of your daisy between the two tails. Wrap one clockwise around the shank and one anti-clockwise. Remember to trim and squeeze in the ends as needed so they don't scratch your hand!

Attaching the ring

And here's the finished ring!

The finished ring

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Crafternoon fun

I went to a wonderful crafternoon yesterday organised by The Other Fickle Pixie.

The Other Fickle Pixie
We all had a fantastic day with much knitting, wire work and card making happening! I managed to get quite a lot done, including finishing an ankle chain that I designed for my sister's wedding present and trying out a new technique involving making a wire weave round a snowflake obsidian coin. It's my first try at this technique and the result is a little wobbly, but I'm happy with it as a first go. This one will most likely be taken apart and done again. With a bit of practice I think I can get it much neater.
The ankle chain

A close up of the ankle chain

Starting point for the snowflake obsidian coin

The finished coin pendant

Tree of Life pendant using green/blue fluorspar
Large snowflake obsidian pendant using a wire weave for the bail

Thursday, 29 March 2012

New wire!

Had a fantastic day out at the NEC on Friday. It's always good fun to get together with some friends and see what different things they're all making. And yes, some serious shopping happened. Am I the only person in the world who get excited about having three different thicknesses of the exact same shade of red coated copper wire? Now I can't wait to get stuck in and use some of my new beads and wire! I just need to work out where to keep it all in my newly laid-out studio.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Welcome to twistedwhisker!


I'm Helen and this is twistedwhisker - a showcase for the wirework jewellery I make and some of the techniques I use to make it, together with the random thoughts of my journey into self-employment...

My ultimate aim is to sell my jewellery through my website and at various events throughout the UK, and also provide knowledge and instruction for fledgling wireworkers through online tutorials and (coming soon!) DVDs.

Oh, and I'd love to have a little shop in a little village with my cats and a nice pot of tea always on the go :)

Here's some mood shots of my current work:

Twisted Wire & Lucite Leaves Bracelet

Woven Wirework Cuff

Twisted Wire Rings