January 28. I was recently invited by Probe.PH to be featured on their series of webisodes, Handmade. This segment allows local makers to share steps and tips on how to do their craft.
It’s less than a 10-minute episode, but since it’s a recorded shoot, I have all the time that I need to share what I know about wire writing. I chose a wire written bookmark as the first project, because it has the easiest design. It helps beginners get comfortable in working with wires and pliers. (Plus, a bookmark was also my first project when I started wire writing.)
So here’s it is, a tutorial on how to make a wire written bookmark.
If you’re able to make a wire written bookmark by following the steps I taught in the video, post and tag Paper Pliers in Instagram, or use the following hashtags:
Even if it’s not a Wednesday, I love to see your bookmarks and to know what you think about the tutorial.
Also, visit Probe.PH’s website to watch more tutorials on other kinds of crafts and arts. My favorites are Crochet Cozy by Margaux of Creative Chaos, Watercolor Painting by June Digann, and Wire Written Topper by fellow wire artists, Mike and Iya of MAIkala.
My first guesting on a morning show made me realize that teaching in less than 5 minutes is not enough for someone to learn to wire write. No matter how many details that I was able to share during the segment, it will be close to impossible for a beginner to be able to finish his/her very first wire-written project.
When I was interviewed by the host before our appearance, she asked:
“Kaya ba ito gawin ng beginners?”
I realized that wire writing seems an intimidating craft for the following reasons:
It’s not every day that we get to cut, fold, and twist wires using pliers or hands.
Wire working requires the crafter to be able to visually imagine her end product. Besides knowing how to sketch, one should also know how to hold an image in their head.
Handling pliers and wires are not hands-and-nails friendly.
First attempts to work with wire are trial-and-error projects.
One way to lessen the intimidation of working with wires (or any materials and tools) is to know more about them.
The great thing with our current era is that information can be easily accessed – as long as we have a computer and an internet connection. It’s not as hard as 10 years ago. We don’t have an excuse to say ‘I don’t know anything about it.’
Besides articles and video tutorials on the internet, I highly recommend books – both physical and digital ones. There are thousands of books that are published and being published on arts and crafts nowadays. And don’t narrow your list that talks about wires and pliers. You will learn a thing or two if you also read books of other crafts (I solemnly swear by this).
(Side note: I’ll make a separate post on books that I recommend for wire working and starting a craft business.)
Attending workshops – even ones that seem to have nothing to do with wire and pliers – is also very helpful. All arts and crafts use the same basic skills, which are the use of imagination (holding an image in mind) and fine-motor skills (synchronization of hands and eyes). So, again, don’t narrow your list to anything wires and pliers related.
Keep in mind that one workshop session doesn’t make you an expert right away.
You still need to follow-up what you’ve learned (and read) with mindful practice.
Mindful practice means that while you are doing your craft, you have to be aware of the things that you want to correct or improve. If your work is the same as your first attempt, you need to step back and assess first.
It also helps to ask for feedback from people whom you trust to have an eye on the arts or making crafts.
The process of self-improvement will be difficult because it will hurt our ego. But it will be worth it.
Don’t hammer yourself with brutal criticism every time you are making. What I mean by criticism is comparing your work to others, and accepting the thought that you are not good enough. If you keep these things in mind, you will definitely have a hard time improving the craft that you want to master.
So ask yourself this instead, did you enjoy making it?
If yes, go ahead and make more.
If no, it’s okay. Move on and try to master a new one until you find something that you definitely enjoy.
But of course, us crafters do not settle for just one craft. We enjoy making, what ever tools and materials that we can grab.
This was one of the first bookmarks I made that is close to the current horizontal bookmark design. When I made these bookmarks for my office mates, I thought it was the most beautiful, unique craft that I’ve made. I was so proud of myself. And it melted my heart when they were so happy with the bookmarks they received.
If it wasn’t for that moment, I wouldn’t have opened Paper Pliers. Their giggly reactions encouraged me to keep going. It takes positive affirmation and support from people and loved ones to motivate us to improve, to change, and to take that leap. (Thank you former office mates!)
Last week, I received a message:
“Hi! Ang tagal ko ng hinahanap nito buti [nakita] ko na. I’m a big fan of your work po. Sobraaaaa”
I thanked her, telling her that what she said was humbling. She replied.
“ deserve nyo naman po. sana matuto din ako nyan po. trina-try ko lagi sa alambre. More power po! And god bless you more. “
It made me realize that what I’m doing not only helps me reach out my dreams and goals (i.e. to work at home with my family, to be a crafter-entrepreneur like my idols). I’m also making people appreciate the art of wire-writing.
I am not a Fine Arts nor a Design graduate. I did not take up any classes in manipulating wires, only a workshop where we used it for jewelry wrapping. Yet, here I am, wire-writing. It means that anyone can craft, any one can make art – if you set your mind to it.
Wire-writing (or any skill/craft) can be learned if it’s practiced with thorough mindfulness. It won’t be a breeze; it will be difficult. You will make mistakes – lots of mistakes. But if you know how to point them out and how to solve them, difficulty won’t matter.
“When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.” (excerpt from BrainPickings.org article)
So, I’m starting a series: #AnyoneCanWireWrite and #WireWriteWednesdays.
If you have made a wire-written piece, an attempt or you’ve been doing it for awhile, please use the hashtags mentioned above. Don’t hesitate; don’t be ashamed; be proud of using wire to create. You are helping spread the love for wire-writing. You are helping the community of wire crafters grow.
Before 2014 ended, I wrote a list of goals that I wanted to happen for the business. One of them was to have our first craft fair, which was unlocked when we attended DMC’s Handcrafted Arts and Crafts Fair. Woohoo!
Another one was to be featured by a popular magazine, which was achieved last month. Paper Pliers was featured by When In Manila. Yey!
It was January when I read a message from Vince Golangco, founder of When In Manila, asking if they could feature us on their website. It was 1:00 AM; I was about to sleep. But, I couldn’t sleep after what I’ve read. There were a lot of thoughts in my mind, like noise in Divisoria, that I don’t know how to respond.
Of course, in the end I answered back.
Apart from being surprised, pressure sank in. ‘When In Manila’ boasts 4 million views every month – that’s a LOT of people seeing my works. It’s exposing myself to the world. I am not a fine arts graduate, nor I took design courses during college. I wanted to run away because of fear to be accused as a poser, of being a wannabee artist/designer. I felt that I have little experience to show, no textbook knowledge on design theories and concepts – I only label myself as an enthusiast.
But when they asked me to make a ‘When In Manila’ logo inspired wire bookmark – I dropped all fears. I can’t turn my back on a challenge. When something that I haven’t done before is posed before me, I feel blood rush and butterflies in my tummy. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s the thought of trying to solve something. In this case, figuring out how to manipulate the wire to achieve the design. This had me awake for days.
I started drawing different styles of the logo.
After doing a couple of sketches, I worked on prototypes. Making prototypes helps me study the process of manipulating the wire.
Wire working is an expensive (and wasteful) hobby. Once you’ve made a mistake on just one letter or shape, you have to repeat the process again. From scratch! What you’ve done for hours was nothing. (#HahaHuhu) I learned that from experience.
Since I’m used to working in cursive and calligraphy, I had to practice working in printed fonts.
Another dilemma in wire-working: make sure the wire is not ‘bitin’.
Once I was done with the prototype, I started working on the product itself.
The form of the jeep was really difficult to make because it’s symmetrical. I had to make sure that the both halves are equally shaped.
After hundreds of hours, wires, sweat, sighs, potato chips, and swear words – I was finally done!
When I read Paper Pliers’ first blog feature by Louisa, it was so awesome and unexpected. It was December, and it felt like a superb Christmas and end-of-the-year gift.
So imagine how awesome and elated I felt when I saw my works on When in Manila’s website and Facebook page! It was a Saturday morning last February, and I didn’t have a rehearsed reaction for it.
I know I’ve said it a million times on our social media accounts and thru e-mail, but let me say it again.
Thank you so much for this humbling experience When In Manila and Sam!
I learned wire-writing by accident. It’s not something I intended or really wanted to learn when I first bought an aluminum ring. I was thinking of teaching myself to wire-wrap jewelry. I got that idea when I attended the resin jewelry-making workshop at Craft MNL.
Back then, I had a full-time job as an editor, and I needed to do something after shift that doesn’t require sitting in front of the monitor and typing on the keyboard.
Apart from attending workshops, I joined a local Artist Trading Card (ATC) event. There were 50 crafters registered for this event. The rule: within two months, we have to make 50 ATCs and 50 tags; then we have to trade it with 49 other crafters. It’s mainly for the purpose of creating, sharing, and learning from each other. Why would I miss this chance?
Making 100 pieces of miniature artworks was not easy – especially that I just started crafting again after so many years. Yes, I draw and sketch every once in awhile. But the last time I made something crafty (e.g. mixed media, watercolor, colored pens) was when I made a birthday card to someone back in high school (which was a decade ago).
Unfortunately, half of the participants made more than 100 artworks. They made three sets of ATCs and two sets of tags. They even provided freebies (pen, washi tape, beads, etc…)
I feel so amateur (and foolish) wanting to be “crafty” again. So, just to compensate my wannabee artworks that they’ll be receiving, I added freebies.
Since I love to read, I like the idea of wire bookmarks. I made this.
And made 48 pieces more.
Reminiscing this now, I can’t believe that this was the foundation of the bookmarks that I am making today.