Bernie Wire

Bernie Wire

About The Artist

Bernie Wire • Vadnais Heights, MN

My work in refractory metals started over four decades ago in art school where I was intrigued by a metal that could be colorized. Traditional soldering techniques do not apply to titanium, fortunately working in the engineering school exposed me to spot welding and I have used this welding technique from that day forward for art and jewelry. My interest in learning more about welding lead me to become an industry expert in micro resistance welding where my solutions for industry clients became solutions for my art and visa versa. I published multiple papers at The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology. Through this experience gained, I can create welded structures uncommon to refractory and precious metals. I made my first niobium Roman chain in 1980, and have explored vessel forms, sculpture, wall pieces, and art jewelry. My recent jewelry work is principally in Argentium Silver, Titanium, and Niobium with an occasional use of tantalum and zirconium.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I utilize spot welding to fabricate most of the jewelry pieces. Spot welding is a process where metals are clamped together while an electrical current is passed through them. It's the resistance to the flow of this electric current that produced the heat to form a weld. Using this technique I can produce simple to complex structures not commonly seen in the refractory group of metals.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Metals have been my focus for years. After working in ceramics I found comfort in metals never having to leave your hands. I enjoy the tactile feeling of metal and the problem-solving part of realizing new designs. Initially, I was fascinated by titanium's ability to be colored and experimented in-depth with the coloring process. The vibrant colors can be seductive as you watch them appear before your eyes. Since those early days, I have become more interested in the natural metal color and making color optional.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

You will not find many, if any, people utilizing the welding techniques at the level used in my work, which permits me to make pieces that are unique to my work. Instead of completing my MFA on a full scholarship, I wanted to learn more about the welding process and I got a job at a welding equipment manufacturer where I worked my way into becoming their in-house expert on welding. Every day I evaluated metals for weldability and produced feasibility reports supporting the company's worldwide clients and sales force. I resigned after five years to become an independent contractor and to make more time for art. I would consult with aerospace, automotive, medical, and commercial lighting companies.