This week I thought that it would be a good idea to give you a sneak peek into the NEW Book that I've been working on. Let me know what you think. Here it is -
Ask most wire artists who C.G. Oxley, Jim and Mavis Llewellyn, and Tom Phalen are and you’ll probably get a blank stare. Few today have any idea who these pioneering wire artists are. Yet they’re familiar with their work. Have you ever heard of the Common ring also known as the Pharaohs ring? That design was created and patented by Tom Phalen. Since then it has appeared in numerous books and magazines and is made by wire artists around the world.
Most wire artists forget that a majority of the techniques and patterns used in wire wrapping began in the early 20th century. C.G. Oxley is the Henry Ford of the Wirewrapping world. While he didn’t invent the art, he did revolutionize its production and popularity. Around World War I wire art was used as therapy for soldiers. Mr. Oxley saw the potential of the art and employed teams of artists to create wire art for department stores in England. The designs were simple strands of wire embellished with glass beads or faux pearls. One of the more popular designs was wire pins that spelled out a sweethearts name or simply said Mother. Today wire name jewelry designs are making a huge comeback.
Jim Llewellyn admired the work being produced by Oxley. Eager to create his own wire jewelry he purchased wire and instructions from Oxley 1935. In no time he had taught himself to create wonderful pieces of jewelry. In 1959, after many years of perfecting his craft, he and his wife Mavis immigrated to Canada. Unable to find employment that he preferred, Jim and Mavis opened The Amulet. The shop highlighted the wire designs Jim had perfected over the years. Soon his wife Mavis began to create her own pieces of wire art. In the early 1960’s Mavis joined a local gem club and began cutting and polishing stones. Eager to find a way to incorporate these stones into her wirework, she devised a way to wrap wire around cabochons to make pendants. Over the years Jim wrote 3 books on making wire jewelry. These books are still available from The Amulet (www.theamulet.ca). Many of today’s Wirewrapping techniques can be traced back to designs created by Jim and Mavis Llewellyn.
Another key figure in modern wire art is Tom Phalen. Not much is known about Tom. He was a wire artist who traveled to various art shows throughout the United States and Canada during the 1950’s and 60’s. It’s obvious though, that his contribution to wire art is significant. The Common ring, patented in 1948, is more popular today than it ever was. At a show that my wife and I did we came across a gentleman wearing one of Phalens Common Ring designs created by his brother in 1965. The ring was well worn but in perfect shape, the true hallmark of a masterful design.
People like Mr. Oxley, the Llewellyn’s and Tom Phalen along with many other pioneering artists created many of the wirewrap designs being used today. As the years have passed and new artists have emerged, the proper credit for these designs has died. Many credit their mentor for the design. Others credit books, magazines, and videos that have featured these wonderful creations. Sad to say many jewelry instructors have passed these creative designs off as their own creation. In reality those teachers are simply passing on designs that have already been created.
This book is dedicated to those pioneering artists. We’ll be using their wonderful techniques to create modern jewelry designs. It is our hope and desire that you take these designs and techniques and use them in such a way as to create new works and designs of your own.
So that's it! What do you think...
'til Next Time
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