Exhibition – Surfacing: OFF THE PAGES

Surfacing Magazine, Durham Region’s guide to the arts and culture,  launched in Autumn 2008.  It is celebrating its fourth year and the publication of its Autumn 2012 issue with an exhibition at Whitby’s Station Gallery.

The exhibition, “Surfacing: OFF THE PAGES“, brings together a selection of  works by some of the 100 artists, writers and craftspeople who have been featured in the magazine.

My jewellery was featured in Spring / Summer 2012, and I am pleased to be able to contribute one piece to the exhibition.

The Station Gallery takes its name in honor of the former Grand Trunk Railway Station which is now its home.  The building was slated for demolition before  Whitby Arts Inc., a group of arts enthusiasts, purchased and moved it to its present locationat 1450 Henry St in Whitby  in 1971 .  The gallery has served as a community arts centre for over 35 years.  After an extensive renovation, it has now expanded to almost 10,000 square feet of exhibit, studio, collection storage and administrative space.

Surfacing:  OFF THE PAGES
September 8 to October 14, 2012
Opening Reception, September 8 at 1 p.m.
Curator’s Walk & Talk, September 20



Pop! Goes the Circle wins Award at International Bead Awards 2012

Pop! Goes the Circle wins Award at International Bead Awards 2012

The disappointment of having to cancel my classes in Germany was mellowed a bit this week, when news came from fellow instructor Dian Hierschel that my necklace “Pop! Goes the Circle” had placed second in the Metals/Wirework category at the International Bead Awards!  The IBA was exhibited as part of Beaders Best Perlenkunst Messe, just wrapped up in Hamburg.

Dian kindly sent along this photo from show.

Pop! Goes the Circle (2011)


I worked at break-neck speed on this necklace, spending most of New Year’s Eve finishing it.  It was uploaded almost at the last minute before entries closed.  The sore shoulder lasted a few days, but this makes it all worth while!  Thank you to the jury and to everyone who voted for it!


Fall 2012 / Winter 2013 Class Schedule updated!

Fall 2012 / Winter 2013 Class Schedule updated!

I’m pleased to be teaching classes again this Fall and Winter at George Brown College!

Classes offered this Fall are:

Jewellery Wire Art I – October 14-November 4, 2012
Chain Making – November 24-December 1, 2012

Classes offered this Winter are:

Jewellery Wire Art I – February 24-March 17, 2013
Jewellery Wire Art II – April 14-May 5, 2013
Chain Making – November 24-December 1, 2012


Please see my Classes page for more details and links to the registration pages.

Upcoming Workshops: Beaders Best 2012 in Hamburg, Germany

Upcoming Workshops: Beaders Best 2012 in Hamburg, Germany

UPDATE – June 4, 2012

Putting together a trip like this means a lot of planning and considerable expense.  Unfortunately, things have not come together the way I would like, and so I’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel these classes.  I want to thank Verena Greene-Christ of Perlen Poesie magazine, who made a terrific effort over the last couple of days to find a workable solution – maybe next year!



It’s going to be a busy summer!  In addition to returning to Haliburton this year, I’m scheduled to teach five workshops at the Beaders Best Perlenkunst Messe in Hamburg, Germany from August 17-19, 2012 .

Sponsored by Perlen Poesie magazine, this second annual show features beadwork, wirework and metal clay from all over Europe and North America.  As the only Canadian instructor, I’m excited about teaching in Germany – and in German – for the first time.  (The courses are listed as being taught in English with German translation, because I requested a translator in case I get stuck.)

More details about the classes can be found here.


Es wird ein arbeitsreicher Sommer sein! Neben der Rückkehr in Haliburton, werde ich dieses Jahr  ab August 17-19, 2012 fünf Kurse am Beaders Best Perlenkunst Messe in Hamburg, Deutschland lehren.

Gefördert durch Perlen Poesie Magazin, bietet dieses zweite jährliche Messe Perlenkunst, Drahtkunst und Silber Clay aus ganz Europa und Nordamerika. Als die einzige kanadische Lehrerin, bin ich über den Unterricht zum ersten Mal in Deutschland – und in deutscher Sprache – begeistert . (Die Kurse werden als in Englisch mit deutscher Übersetzung gelehrt aufgeführt, weil ich nach einem Übersetzer fragte, falls ich stecken bleibe.)

Weitere Details zu den Kursen finden Sie hier.


Marquise Series Pendant published in a German Nalbinding book

Marquise Series Pendant published in a German Nalbinding book

YOJ09-51 Marquise Series: Pendant 5 YOJ09-51 Marquise Series: Pendant 5 (2009); Sterling silver, fine silver, Swarovski crystal; Constructed, cold-joined, nalbinding; L 6.5 cm x W 1.3 cm Just received word that Marquise Series:  Pendant 5 has been published in a German language book on nalbinding!  The book, by Ulricke Claßen-Büttner, focuses mainly on the historical textile applications of the craft, but when she contacted me several months ago about including this piece, of course I said yes!

The book, Nadelbinden – Was ist denn das?: Geschichte und Technik einer fast vergessenen Handarbeit, is available from Amazon.de:

Nadelbinden – eine Jahrtausende alte Technik.  Das Nadelbinden war und ist weltweit verbreitet und doch in Europa heute so gut wie unbekannt. Das war nicht immer so. Erst als sich im Mittelalter das Stricken ausbreitete, geriet das Nadelbinden in Vergessenheit. Heute entdecken kreative Menschen das Nadelbinden neu. Dieses Buch bietet dem historisch interessierten Leser einen Überblick über die Geschichte des Nadelbindens anhand wichtiger archäologischer Fundstücke. Für den Textilfachmann werden die vielfältigen Bindungsarten beschrieben und erläutert. Für all jene, die den Mut haben eine uralte Handarbeitstechnik neu zu erlernen und wieder zu beleben, gibt es Anleitungen zu verschiedenen Nadelbinde-Stichen und konkreten Projekten.

(English translation:

Nalbinding – a millennia-old Technique.  Nalbinding was and is practiced worldwide and yet in Europe it is all but unknown today. That was not always so.  Only after the Middle Ages when knitting became widespread, was nalbinding forgotten. Today creative people are rediscovering nalbinding.  This book offers the reader an overview of the history of nalbinding based on important archaeological finds. For the textile expert, the various types of bindings are described and explained. For those who have the courage to try their hand at relearning and reviving this ancient technique, there are instructions on different stitches and nalbinding-specific projects.)

Ulrike Classen-Buettner is an archaeologist, a freelance textile artist, museum educator and author. She lives with her ​​husband and child in Altmühltal in Bavaria. After training as a pharmaceutical-technical assistant at the PTA School and three years of working in a pharmacy, she decided in 1998, to pursue her dream of archaeological study. 

She studied Prehistory and Early History, Geology / Paleontology, Provincial Roman Archaeology and Ethnology in Cologne and graduating with a master’s degree.   During her studies, she was fascinated by the complexity of archaeological textile finds. She wanted to explore the basis of archaeological discoveries in the field of textile techniques, knowledge which could only be truly gained through practical, hands-on experience. 

Since 2003 she has focussed on applying the historical manufacturing processes of textiles through her work as an artist and museum educator, and hopes to continue the revival of this ancient knowledge.

A long overdue update!

I know it’s been forever since I posted something here, but I have been insanely busy behind the scenes.

Last September, when both my kids finally started going to school full time, I thought “Great!  Now I’ll have more time!”

I was wrong.

I run 10 different calendars on my iCal – 4 for my projects, 3 for my husband’s, one each for my kids and other family.  It’s the only hope I have to keep up with my deadlines.

So… what have I been doing?

Among the projects I was working on in the second half of 2011, was The Metal Arts Guild of Canada’s inaugural Exhibition in Print.  Getting the issue in my hands finally in December after so many months of work was thrilling and rewarding.

I’m really hard pressed to choose the one thing that stands out for me about the experience.  Initially, it felt very intimidating:  except for the bit of volunteering I’d done setting up other MAGC exhibitions, I had never been as intimately and directly involved in planning and running an exhibition.

Because this was going to be a virtual exhibition, we decided to try using an online jurying system.  There was a real learning curve involved in getting it set up and functioning in a way that would make it easy for the applicants to submit their work and for the curator to review and make selections.  My experience as a tutorial writer came in handy, when we started getting flooded with questions, and I had to quickly write a “how to” instruction email, detailing all the steps.  As the deadline for submissions drew near, I was in daily contact with the Memberships Chair, Charles Funnell, and our treasurer, Janet Ma, to make sure people were paying the right fees, and dealing with assorted last-minute questions and glitches.

Response to the call for entry was outstanding:  165 entries.  MAGC was the beneficiary of a wonderful stroke of luck, in the form of an introduction to Gloria Hickey, an award winning Canadian craft writer and curator with extensive experience, who agreed to take on the EiP.  Gloria went through all of the entries with a discerning eye and picked out the grouping she felt was most representative of our theme “Larger than Life”.  It was an enlightening experience for me, during the conference call on the final selections, to listen to Gloria explain how and why she chose the pieces she did.  I sat back and absorbed the discussion between Gloria and the Exhibition Chair, Mary McIntyre.  The pieces weren’t always an obvious fit to me, and the most frequent question out of my mouth was “How does this relate to the theme?”  This prompted Gloria at one point to tease me laughingly:  “You’re very pragmatic, aren’t you?”

It brought to mind a friend of mine relating a similar story about my time in university.  The project was to design a kitchen.  My classmates were busy coming up with all kinds of wildly outlandish designs.  “And here’s Dianne saying “But what about the BUDGET!?  What’s the BUDGET?!”

“Yes,” said Mary, in my defence, “but it works.”   She saw this tendency to stick with the facts as a benefit:  it kept her own – in her words – “harebrained” ideas in check.  (For what it’s worth, I would call it “brainstorming”, not “harebrained”.  She has an awesome talent for it, so in many ways, we balance each other, and it makes the results in print that much better.)

Twenty-one pieces, representing a wide swath of Canadian metalwork, were selected for final publication.  They can be seen on MAGC’s website.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been focused on other areas of my life.   One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get a grip on my health, which has taken a beating the past couple of years.  So, I’ve been making a concerted effort to work out and lose weight.  It’s making me look better physically, but I haven’t been able to make much progress on the stress levels I live with – there still seems to be no end to the juggling I’m doing.

I’ve been teaching a lot of workshops and private classes since last Fall.  I added Chain Making to the list of con-ed courses I’m teaching at George Brown College this year, and the Wire Art Jewellery course is running for the first time in several years.  I’m pleased to have been invited back to Haliburton this summer for Wire Jewellery 2, and I’m very excited to be heading to Germany in August to teach at the Beaders Best Perlenkunst Messe in Hamburg.  (See my class schedule for a full run-down of my classes.)

I’m also taking part in the Lake Scugog Spring Studio Tour again this year, so I’m in active production mode, making pieces for sale there and through my galleries. Photos will come at some point.

So, it’s a busy life, with a seemingly never ending To Do List!  My white board has become my best friend…

SATeam Blog Carnival August 2011

It’s time for the SATeam’s monthly blog carnival! I haven’t managed to participate in one of these before, but this month’s topic was just too good to resist: “When you travel, what jewelry related stuff to do take with you?”


The first thing I always take with me is good intentions. After all, I’m on vacation, I should have lots of time to work on a pet project…


In years past I have carted my tool box, a couple of bead boxes, some currently favourite cabochons and a full complement of wire to campsites all over Southern Ontario. Most days were spent hiking, swimming, touring, making feeble attempts at building fires with wet wood, and otherwise doing nothing remotely resembling wirework. In fact, by the time the kids were snuggled in their sleeping bags, I was too tired – and it was too dark – to even think about putting pliers to wire.

So the whole kit stayed in the van, along with my good intentions.

In 2007, we rented a cottage in Prince Edward County, which meant we were basically stationary for the week. While I did manage to work on a project, it still remains unfinished.

This year, as we prepared for our trip to the East Coast, I pondered whether or not to bring my tools. I had a basketweaving project I’d been working on for several weeks. It was small, compact, and would only require me to take one spool of 28 ga wire, and my most basic tools – flat nose pliers, round nose pliers and nippers. In fact, everything could fit into two small project boxes I’d be able to carry around in my purse! Perfect!

I did pull the boxes out… to get at other things in my purse, like my camera and my passport.

I even opened the box and looked the project over… once. Then I decided that I wasn’t really in the mood for it, and carefully packed it away again.

Next year, I think I’ll just take my sketchbook, and maybe some watercolours. You never know, I might just be able to get some painting in…

There are several other SATeam members participating in this month’s blog carnival:

Galadryl Designs
Bead Sophisticate
J3 Jewelry

You can find a full list on the Starving Artists blog.



  • breathe-white1-mini
  • breathe-white2-mini
  • breathe-white3-mini
  • breathe-white4-mini
  • breathe-etsyfiedmini
  • breathe-silver1mini
  • breathe-silver2mini
  • breathe-silver3mini
  • breathe-silver4mini
  • breathe-silver5-mini
  • breathe-silver6-mini

Breathe Scent Box (2011)
Copper, fine silver, sterling silver
Constructed, coiled, woven, cold-joined
H: 2.0 cm x W: 2.6 cm x D: 2.96 cm

Alright… I’m back… sort of…

I got hit with a perfect storm of personal and professional chaos in May, and my weekly postings to YOJ were the casualty. *sigh*

This piece, created for the upcoming HSTA Faculty Exhibition, is the only wire my hands have touched in the last month. It’s one of those pieces that has had to lend itself to being picked up and put down frequently while I deal with other pressures.

This year’s theme is “Breathe”. Years ago, during a conversation with a friend about being overworked and looking forward to a time when we’d be able to come up for air, I deadpanned “Breathing is overrated,” and then quipped about how that would make a really good epitaph for my headstone. The comment laid us both completely flat with laughter.

She reminded me of the conversation a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about all the “stuff” going on in our lives. This time she made the observation that it just seems to be part of my nature to throw myself into lots of projects at the same time. It’s true. I thrive on deadlines. However I’ve noticed a change in the last year or so in how I’m reacting: I seem to have developed insomnia. I regularly wake up after only a few hours of sleep, unable to shut off my brain, which spins with thoughts of all the things I need to get done.

I’ve come to realize that I do, in fact, need to breathe and relax.

This insight was reinforced as I was transcribing an interview I did with Dee Fontans, who teaches in the Jewellery Metals Program at Alberta College of Art & Design. We talked about the need to find balance between work and play, about re-energizing and feeding the muse. It’s something she struggles with as much as anyone else. 1

So, I’ve recently started making a more conscientious effort to slow down, go for bike rides, and take notice of Spring. And breathe.

With the lilac and lavender in my front yard coming into bloom, giving off a wonderful perfume, my thoughts focused on how to carry that scent with me. I continue to be obsessed with containers, so I decided I would make a little box for holding a sachet of herbs or perfumed salts. Lavender, in particular, is supposed to be good for helping with relaxation and sleep.

One thing I wanted to experiment with was patterning. Years ago when I visited the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, I was really impressed with the patterns the inhabitants carved and painted onto their pottery. Likewise, I was struck by the patterning on the First Nations baskets I saw in BC. I was able to incorporate a triangular pattern on the rim of the bottom half through a structural change in the coiling of the basket. Because I knew it was going to spin while being worn, I also added decorative elements on the base and top. So there’s lots going on.

Of course, now that this piece is done, I have ideas for a half dozen other pieces, but those will have to wait.

I still have to catch my breath.

The Haliburton School of The Arts Faculty Exhibition 2011 will take place from July 2 to August 5, 2011 at the Rails End Gallery & Arts Centre, 23 York St., Haliburton, Ontario. Faculty will participate in a weekly meet & greet at the gallery on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

  1. My interview with Dee Fontans will appear in the 2011: Two “College Review” issue of MAGazine, which is scheduled for release later this month. The audio of the interview will be available online after the issue comes out.
YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret

YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret

YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret The Keeper of My Secret (2011) Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, Swarovski crystal Formed, cold-joined, liver of sulphur & ammonia patinationThe Keeper of My Secret (2011)
Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, Swarovski crystal
Formed, cold-joined, liver of sulphur and ammonia patination
L 3.68 cm x W 2.25 cm x D 1.91 cm

After finishing the locket in Week 11 I said I wasn’t going to work on one of these again for a while, but the idea for this piece refused to stay quietly in the recesses of my mind.

I’ve been thinking a lot about secrets.  What private little treasures do we wear close to our hearts?  A note from a lover, or a totem object?  Does it contain a memory or a reminder?  The wearer gets to choose.

I love the shape of amphorae – very sensuous and feminine!  The construction was another learning experience – not the least reason being that I actually made the clasp properly this time.  Naturally, I now have ideas for two other projects I want to make, but those definitely have to wait until after the studio tour.

Currently available at: META4 Gallery

More photos:

YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret The Keeper of My Secret (2011) Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, Swarovski crystal Formed, cold-joined, liver of sulphur & ammonia patination YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret The Keeper of My Secret (2011) Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, Swarovski crystal Formed, cold-joined, liver of sulphur & ammonia patination YOJ11-14 The Keeper of My Secret The Keeper of My Secret (2011) Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, Swarovski crystal Formed, cold-joined, liver of sulphur & ammonia patination

Why “Wire wrapping” is a Traditional Metalsmithing Technique

What, exactly, are “traditional metalsmithing techniques”?

I’ve tried to figure it out because I see this phrase all over the place.  So far, the only thing I’ve managed to determine is that it’s a blanket term for an assumed, but ill-defined, set of construction methods a skilled metalworker must know how to use.

A couple of months ago I opened up an Artfire Shop.  Like “street teams” on Etsy, Artfire encourages craftspeople to band together and form “guilds” according to their specialties.  I applied to join a Metalsmiths Guild, and was rejected.  The reason given:  “All members must have metalsmithed pieces listed live in their Pro Studio, and those metalsmithed pieces must make the majority of the items listed in their Studio, because our focus here is Metalsmithing.  Your studio is basically filled with beautiful wire wrapped pieces at this time.”

When I went to look at the Guild Master’s shop, I discovered that about half of her available work was made of wire, much of it cold-worked.  The difference?  She was hammering it, as well as wrapping it.

There were several pieces of wirework on the Guild’s gallery page, and when I pointed this out to her, I got an indignant reply:  “…there is not a single wire wrapped piece displayed in the [Guild] photo gallery. Not one piece. (except for one of my copper Hearts which has a few soldered components, as well as a wire ”stitching” detail around the heart, but that is not what we”d call ”wire wrapping” per say)”

She went on:  “So, I”m really not sure where you saw this when you say “I note that several of your members have wireworked pieces included in the guild gallery.” – you were not looking at the [Guild] gallery. I can guarantee you that.”

I didn’t say wire wrapped, I said wireworked, and there were definitely several pieces in the Guild’s gallery.  Once again, I was being slapped with dismissive terminology.

She sounded positively offended at the insinuation that any cold-joined wire jewellery might be included.  “For the [Guild], we ask that our members focus on pieces geared towards ”traditional” metalsmithing techniques… ”

In the first essay of this series, I established that there are three major forms of metalworking:  sheet, cast and wire.  As the exchange with my ArtFire correspondent shows, there are divergent opinions about what construction methods are needed in order to actually call oneself a metalsmith.  So, let’s start with a definition:

Met-al-smith, noun

∙ an artist or craftsman who works with metal, esp. in making sculptures, jewelry, etc. 1
∙ a person skilled in metalworking 2

Let’s also clarify what “traditional” means:

Traditional, adjective

1. based on customs usually handed down from a previous generation <a traditional Passover meal at his grandparents’ house>
2.  tending to favor established ideas, conditions, or institutions <a family that is very traditional when it comes to institutions like marriage>3

Wire jewellery – and in particular cold-joined wire jewellery – has a very long history, as evidenced by pieces in the collection of the British Museum, here, here, here, here, here and here and in the Victoria & Albert Museum here, here, here and here.  In fact, this brooch dating from the Middle Bronze Age is among the oldest known pieces of classical cold-working.

Doing a search online for “wire wrapping” brings up all kinds of references to electrical equipment. I was surprised to find only one definition of “wire wrap jewellery”:

Wire wrap jewellery is a type of design and method of hand jewellery fabrication. 4 (emphasis mine)

Hand fabricated jewellery is built from constructed and assembled pieces, which have been soldered or cold-joined. It can use sheet, wire, found objects, you name it.  Hand fabricated wire jewellery can incorporate a wide variety of different cold-joining methods such as weaving, coiling, seizing, stitching and lashing.

The single element which determines whether a piece of cold-joined wire jewellery is called “wire wrapping” is the presence of binding.

Tim McCreight lists wire “wrapping” second after “tabs” in Chapter 5 “Joining” of The Complete Metalsmith.  He writes:  “It’s hard to get much simpler than binding elements together with wire.  Countless examples can be found in farm tools, kitchen utensils and ethnic jewelry from around the world.”  5 (emphasis mine)

In fact, he refers to “wire wrapping” as “The Original Cold Connection”. 6

In other words, it’s a traditional metalsmithing technique.

<Previous Please Don’t Call Me a “Wirewrapper”

  1. YourDictionary.com/metalsmith
  2. Merriam Webster
  3. Merriam Webster
  4. WordIQ.com
  5. McCreight, Tim. The Complete Metalsmith, (Portland: Brynmorgan Press Inc., 2004), ISBN 1-929565-05-4, pg. 102
  6. McCreight, Tim. The Complete Metalsmith, (Portland: Brynmorgan Press Inc., 2004), ISBN 1-929565-05-4, pg. 221
YOJ11-13 Ruby Zoisite Pendant

YOJ11-13 Ruby Zoisite Pendant

YOJ11-13 Ruby Zoisite Pendant Ruby Zoisite Pendant (2011) Ruby zoisite (33.32 ct), sterling silver Formed, cold-joined L 4.3 cm x W 1.86 cm x D 1.4 cmRuby Zoisite Pendant (2011)
Ruby zoisite (33.32 ct), sterling silver
Formed, cold-joined
L 4.3 cm x W 1.86 cm x D 1.4 cm

By chance I’m following the YOJ theme again this week, which is “Complementary Colours”.  Ruby can be found in combination with several other metamorphic stones, namely fuschite and thulite, but my favourite is ruby in zoisite.  I picked up this cab, with its rich wine red and splash of sparkly green, at the Toronto Gem Show last year.

I’m a minimalist where bezel setting stones is concerned.  Time and again,  I have avoided the “frilly” and cage-like settings for which wirework tends to be known in favour of something simpler that lets the stone take centre stage.

YOJ11-13 Ruby Zoisite Pendant (back)There’s something about each stone I buy that has really attracted me.  This is one that begs to be held and stroked.  It has a very calming energy that makes it an excellent touchstone for meditation.  I’ve left the back of the stone open so that it can be closer to the skin when worn.