Dave and Linda from LoveWire would like to welcome you to their "wonderful wirey world "!!
"We've been working with wire for a few years now, and are amazed that still, each day brings up a new creative challenge"
"When people ask us to describe wire work, they normally get it if we say "think french farmhouse wire baskets", but it's so much more than that. For a start, we like to think of ourselves as working in the area between jewellery and blacksmithing. The wire we use is generally too thick for jewellery but too thin for blacksmithing.
The techniques were first developed by Slovakian tinkers around 400 years ago. The techniques are simple, but need practice. Everything is cold formed. No heating, no soldering or welding, just twisting, wrapping , bending and binding.
The set up for this craft is so cheap as well, that's why it's a gift for crafters: You can do so much with just one pair of pliers and even the wire you use can be free. Cast off electric cable gives you wonderful pieces of copper and old fence wire can give that modern "industrial" look, and if a piece goes wrong, all you have to do is unwrap the wire, straighten it out and start again! and If one of your early efforts becomes a total failure, it's totally recyclable!
For interior designers, it's a boon!!
Imagine being able to create all those special extras that add to "the look" !! Anything from the feel of a French farmhouse to bare white Scandinavian and up to the industrial London loft look and the very most modern styles. It's all possible with Wire.
Wire work is as relevant now, as it was a couple of hundred years ago. Every room in the house (as well as the garden !!) can benefit from wire work, whether it be items of practical use or decorative and the fact that you've made it yourself adds so much to the intrinsic value of the piece.
If you want to learn wire work, we can teach groups all over the country. If you would like to buy any of our work, then just head for the shop on this site. If you can't find what you're looking for, then contact us, we always like a new challenge!!
ABOUT WIRE WORK
Wire was first known around 4,500 years ago. The earliest wire was made from precious metals and iron and used to bind objects together or to decorate special fabrics. The Romans held their clothing together with a device called a fibola which was the forerunner of the modern safety pin.
Throughout the ages wire has been used in many ways but it was in Europe, especially in the area of Slovakia, that wireworkers (known as tinsmiths or tinkers) came to the fore. At first they repaired broken pottery and glass vessels with wire, travelling from village to village, town to town, but as their skills and expertise increased they began making everyday household items and exquisite decorative objets d'art.
Tinkers gained considerable respect for their work, even becoming the subjects of a 1902 operetta by Franz Lehar called Der Rastelbinder (The Tinker) although this focussed more on their love lives thanon their work!
The tinkers' skills spread throughout Europe and across to America. The industrial revolution brought mechanised wire production and mass-production techniques meant wire products were available in quantity especially with the birth of catalogue shopping. Everything for the house and garden and even toys were produced, but by the end of world war 2 the use of wire began to decline to be taken over by modern plastics. Plastic was new and colouful - it didn't rust and was easy to keep clean and as the century progressed, wire was relegated to use in electronics, communications and fencing. Nowadays wire items occasionally turn up in flea markets and junk shops and are bought for the essential French rustic kitchen 'look'.
DAVE: I guess it was Linda who introduced me to wire work. I've never seen myself as an artist as such and I’ve never really got into arts and crafts, but when I saw the book of early examples of wire work I was absolutely captivated. The variety of the items amazed me and the attention to detail and delicate nature of some of the work was just awe inspiring .The array of items for every room in the house as well as the garden showed me just how versatile wire was. Practical as well as decorative, all made with a minimal amount of tools, the rustic nature of wire work had me hooked!
We started looking for more books on the subject, hoping to pick up the techniques used. This wasn’t easy, as books that were relevant were mainly out of print and most of the others just concentrated on wire jewellery. Amazingly, the internet was of little use, anything that come up in a search was connected with wire jewellery making.
We managed to come across a couple of ex Library books which dealt particularly with wire craft and this was a real breakthrough. From them, I was able to start making my first baskets and trivets.
It’s one thing, making something from instructions in a book, but when things didn’t quite turn out right, I had no one to turn to. I realized that this meant practice, practice and more practice!! This is where my background as a musician and music teacher came in handy. Every piece became a learning experience. Bit by bit, I worked out how I could make something better, developing the technique to make my work tidier. I wasn’t looking for perfection (a pointless exercise, but don’t start me on that one!!) I just wanted it to be better than, or as good as the last piece I made, and if it wasn’t, then it would still be a lesson and I’d make copious notes on tips and tricks of how I could improve a piece.
So my work and practice goes on, but what concerns me is that these skills that were so vital in the years before mass production and plastics are dying out. It’s not only for the everyday household items, Wire work has a large part to play in arts and crafts. Many other craftspeople could incorporate wire work into their own medium and I really want to spread the word with workshops, tutorials and literature to keep the fantastic skills of the tinsmiths(or tinkers) alive!!
LINDA: I saw a wire basket tucked away on a shelf in a photo in an interiors magazine and I HAD to have one. The usual internet searches drew a blank so I bought a book of early museum pieces to drool over (Yes I was that smitten!). How hard could it be to make my own? Well, not that easy from scratch, but we sourced materials and experimented with different gauges of wire and a variety of tools until the first wobbly trivets and misshapen bowls appeared. (Guess what friends and family had for christmas that first year!). I'm happy to say we have improved greatly and now produce a range of beautiful kitchenware, barbecue forks and household bowls and containers. This miraculous material develops a strength and solidity whilst remaining airy and delicate to look at. Our pieces are individual and unique and our workshops are a fun opportunity for novices to produce their own quirky pieces.