History of Wire Crafted Jewelry

History of Wire Crafted Jewelry

Wire sculpted jewelry is an ancient craft  that Biblical Scholars have dated back as far as1446 BC.  It is known that Egyptian and Phoenician artists practiced that art over 5,000 years ago and pieces of jewelry have been found in the pyramids as well as ancient Pharaoh's tombs.

                                               

It is the only known metal jewelry craft that is created completely without soldering or casting. Soldering or casting is a technique that uses heat by flame or torch to melt the metal together. Creating Wire Jewelry is more of a challenge, as it is held together only by the wires. The wires are twisted, bent and cut, using only the skill of your hands and basic tools of pliers, wire cutters and ruler.

The wire used in designing jewelry may be from many different alloys such as gold, sterling silver, brass, and copper. Its strength can be soft, medium, or hard. Hard wire is used mostly in making bracelets, while soft wire is used in sculpting designs and allows the wire to be twisted more easily.

Modern day wire-wrapping in England and America can probably be attributed to an enterprising artist named Mr. C.G. Oxley. Employing First World War vets as a form of occupational therapy, Mr. Oxley created a widely popular line of jewelry using mainly glass beads and plain wire designs during the 20’s and 30’s. A young man named Jim Llewellyn had taken an interest in wire working when Oxley’s was in full swing. He used to buy his wire from Oxley’s, and could remember the huge workshop with a long U-shaped bench that stretched the length of the room. Twenty to thirty men sat along this bench busy wire working. Sadly, as that generation of wire-workers grew older and died, no new ones stepped up to take over, and Oxley’s closed its doors in the mid-80’s. Wire-wrapped jewelry is mostly unheard of in England today; but Jim and Mavis Llewellyn emigrated to Canada, bringing with them Jim’s hobby – wire-wrapping.  Today, we have an almost endless list of resources for wire art; modern wire artists combine gemstones, beads, antiques, family heirlooms and even mineral specimens with gold, silver, and gold fill wire. Other artists also use copper, jeweler’s brass and german silver in their designs.