Sally Prangley

Sally Prangley

About The Artist

Sally Prangley • Seattle, WA

Making baskets and jewelry is like drawing 3-dimensional shapes in the air, with wire the outline and paper the color. It’s a wonderful process combining two very different materials and turning them into functional and sculptural objects. All wirework, in both basketry and jewelry, is by hand, freeform, and using cold connections (no solder). I learned traditional basketry many years ago and eventually recognized that I could adapt it to wire to make basketry. Jewelry quickly followed because I saw the possibilities in transferring the processes I’d come up with to make functional and sculptural baskets to also create earrings and necklaces.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I make baskets and jewelry in surprisingly similar ways - despite their size and functional differences - because both forms are based on wire and paper. I often transfer ideas first created as baskets into jewelry forms, and vice versa. When making a basket or piece of jewelry, the basic wire structure is made first, then married with paper. I use a rigid form of paper that fits into wire frames almost like jigsaw puzzle pieces attach to each other. Color is added next. I use a variety of tissue, Unryu and Lamali papers, torn into small pieces that I add using a small paintbrush and special glue. It’s like painting, but with paper as my pigment! Design details are slivers and shapes of paper also added with paintbrush and glue. All pieces are sealed for use and wear.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

I simply love annealed steel wire: it’s pliable to work with yet strong enough to retain the shapes I form. Wire and paper work well together. In my basketry, wire is the outline and paper the solid surface and color. Paper follows the paths I’ve made with wire and in this way the collaboration between the two materials is apparent. In my jewelry, this wire/paper collaboration is less obvious. Paper tends to take the foreground and wire is hidden within the small paper structures and is also what connects paper components together. I like the smoothness of wire and that it comes in so many gauges I feel unrestricted in the shapes I can make with it. I appreciate the visual textures and patterns I can make using paper. Wire and paper seem to match my mind and my fingers.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

I don’t know anyone else combining wire and paper like I do to create both basketry and jewelry. I think both baskets and jewelry reflect my personality: colorful, somewhat elegant yet quirky. I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept and title of each design; I can’t begin creating it until that idea is firmly in place in my mind and on paper. The title tells the story inspiring each piece of jewelry or basket. Most often, my ideas revolve around life experiences, puns, and simply things I love. I title each piece so that when people see it, they can better understand or relate to what I’ve made.