Chain Mail Jewellery & Accessories by Angie Mack

Jewellery

The Happily Ever After of Design

I really love the classics, making a simple, traditional weave or chain without much added to it aside from a clasp is often my favourite thing to do (possibly because I often still frustrate myself by trying to make specific ideas work after it’s apparent I don’t know how to!)

The above piece – ‘Morning Star’, a collar necklace with a corset style ribbon fastening at the back – was started last year and was supposed to be a veil. I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted it to, so I abandoned it in favour of things I did know how to do.  Then, several weeks ago, I decided to try and make a conscious effort to create jewellery with a bit more of a unique personality, something that was distinctly “me”, or rather “mine”.

I recently bought some rings but was sent a different size than what I ordered, as it turned out they were perfect for Full Persian, so rather than mess about with exchanging them, I set about seeing exactly what I could do with one of my favourite chains. First thing I decided was to finally try and recreate the dragon tail lariat and incorporate some beautiful Czech glass beads I bought many months ago because they reminded me of dragon’s eyes… It didn’t work out, but while I was playing around with the chain, I ended up splitting it in half and adding a scale pendant.

Which made me realise a couple of things. My idea of what a uniquely “me” design should be was less about distinction and more about complicated, elaborate ideas no one else had thought of or done yet, but the above necklace (which I aptly named Remnants of A Dragon) is relatively classic and simple in all aspects of its design, and even if someone else has made exactly the same necklace before, I think it’s very much “me”, and hopefully distinctly so. The other thing I realised is that my creativity is at its best when I’m not trying to form jewellery from a complete idea, but instead just looking at how a piece has decided to form.

It was much the same whenever I picked up my pen to write – my stories were always significantly better if all I did was explore the characters and let the story develop naturally. If I tried to come up with a story and make my characters follow it, I was never satisfied with how it turned out.

So… I’ve being picking up some of my older, abandoned pieces and rather than trying to think of new or different ways to make them into what I originally envisioned, instead I’m looking for different forms they seem to take to naturally. Which means I still get to experience one of the things I used to love most about writing stories – being surprised by how things turn out (even if it’s a simple, classic ending)!

Everyone’s processes are different of course; I know there are lots of people out there that begin and end with very specific ideas and either know exactly how to create them, or don’t stop until the piece is exactly as they envisioned it. I’d be curious to know how many people are “see what happens” kind of creators, or “know what happens” (or both), and whether it took them any time to discover which works best.


A Few Recent Pieces

I just realised how long it’s been since I have posted here, so thought I would share a few things that I’ve been up to…

It’s summer here in Australia, so with that in mind, I used citrus colours when I designed this fun little scale flower headband, which can double as a choker.

The tutorial for this piece also appeared in the summer edition of Digital Beading Magazine.

While stainless steel is my most commonly preferred medium, I do love a bit of colour and “pretty”, so picked up some anodized niobium in a water mix of colours – my original design didn’t quite work out, so I wound up learning a new weave to use the rings and this bracelet was the result:

I particularly like the purples and blues in anodized niobium, plus the almost irridescent sheen it has, which doesn’t quite show up with the standard point n’ shoot camera I have – this is called Orc Weave, but reminds me of little butterflies.

I also tried a little experiment with square shaped rings, plus exercised my (very limited) wire-wrapping skills to attach the pendant on this necklace – Chain Mail Squared.

The weave itself is just a standard European 4-1, mixing round, open stainless steel rings with the square rings (gunmetal black plated brass), and even though the wire-wrapping is quite simple, it took me a few attempts before I was happy enough with how it looked and held. The back of the necklace is multiple strands of organza and cord in a matching purple.

The store has been quite busy (for me), especially in the last couple of months of 2013, so time to create new things has been a little scarce, but I’ve recently finished up a course I was doing and hopefully I can keep these things updated a little more often.


UV (Black) Light Reactive Chain Mail

I recently picked up some of these rings and didn’t waste much time trying out a couple of my favourite weaves. The top image is Dragonscale (which I love, despite being one of the most time-consuming weaves I know).

The rings themselves are anodized aluminium, with the same look as bright aluminium in any other light, but reacting with a pearl-ish glow when under black light – image of the same bracelet in natural light below.

The pigment is the same as any other AA ring, in that it will scratch off if you’re too rough with your pliers, you just won’t be able to see the damage unless you shine the UV light on it.

After the Dragonscale, I went for something a bit less time-intensive – the staple Byzantine, with purple rubber o-rings.

I wasn’t able to get the greatest shots of the pieces when under the UV light, but you can still get a good idea of what they look like in real life. I have a couple of slightly more interesting designs in mind to try with these rings, hopefully they’ll work and I can post pics of them soon.

 


Alternating Half Persian 3-in-1 (Sterling Silver & Niobium)

It’s been quite a long time since I last worked with sterling silver, in fact almost a year to the day, so I decided to test out a new Half Persian variant (if you can really call it that) and add some niobium into the mix, which I haven’t used before.

This is just HP 3-in-1 in two different ring sizes, but same wire gauge (19G – 1mm thick). The sterling silver rings are 5.75mm ID, and the niobium are 4mm ID.

I tend to forget how pretty sterling silver is, and the niobium was much nicer than I was expecting (they are rainbow coloured, which I chose owing to being the only one that came in 4mm ID, and because I originally planned to incorporate a volcano Swarovski crystal cosmic ring, which seemed to match well….that didn’t quite work with the rings sizes I had, but will try again next time!)

Niobium was quite different to work with than I was expecting (I don’t know why, but I thought it was going to be soft and heavy, like copper, but it seemed to me more like a cross between the silver and aluminium, in that it has the springiness of silver, but the same slight brittleness as anodized aluminium).

Anyway, I was quite pleased with the result and I’m hoping I can work with both metals a little more.


The Eyes Have It

I wanted to do something a little bit different to chain mail and these pieces were the result – I haven’t worked with bronze or bronze tone metal a great deal, and I’m not sure blue is the most perfect match for it, but I’m still fairly pleased with the overall result, especially considering as once again I managed to work in components I bought over a year ago and had long decided I’d never use!

I’m finding that I’m taking a lot more time to piece things together lately, which has its pros and cons, but ultimately means I end up with designs that look more complete, at least to my own eye.

Obviously the focal point of these pieces are those striking blue eye cabochons, and blue glass crystal beads.

The earrings were a bit of experiment in quirkiness, if but subtly, and I deliberated for a while about the overall effectiveness of having two teardrops on one and one teardop on the other, as I have a thing for symmetry when it comes to earrings (it’s funny how these little decisions become a huge deal, after a while, too), but after trying the even combinations I really quite like the effect.

Meanwhile, I have a few larger-scale projects I’m working on, which I hope to share soon, including a fairly extensive Japanese 12-2 piece – WIP photos soon.


Spiked Full Persian Lariat – Tutorial & Kits

 

This is a new version of a design for a piece I made a while ago, using bright aluminium with spike adornments.

The tutorial for this piece has been published in the third issue of Digital Beading magazine, and once again Aussie Maille have pre-made kits available, which contain all the materials you need to replicate it.

 

My thanks once again to Kelly (Digital Beading) and Deb (Aussie Maille), for all the work that goes into making these available.


Japanese Lace Chain Mail Slave Bracelets

These are something I’ve been intending to experiment with for quite a while using the Japanese weaves, as there’s quite a few different ways you can use it to form shapes and patterns.

I started with some very simple 12-2 flowers formed into webs, and while I think they look alright, it didn’t take long for me to start thinking of all these different ways to improve the overall look (that will have to come later, for now I’m just playing with the materials I bought, which was only in a couple of different colours).

As you can see, this is exactly the same design but with red rings in place of the lavender purple, but – naturally – one colour change can alter the entire tone of a piece, with the red and black combo having a more Gothic feel to it (perhaps just in my opinion!)

The first one I made was actually in pink and champagne (a bronzish gold tone), a colour combo based purely on the fact that I could then call the piece ‘Pink Champagne…’ Pink and gold does tend to go together well enough, but I think the pink might be a little too hot for the champagne.

I also wanted this one to be constructed entirely from rings, and rather than have a simple chain to loop around the finger, I went for a finger ring using an extra flower unit as the base. I’ve made a 12-2 ring before, but I used a small European 4-in-1 to construct the band, as it’s much thinner. However, I wore this for a little while and was happy to note the thickness of the ring band (which is as much as 5mm), doesn’t get annoying or feel obtrusive. (I do, however, prefer the simple chain. I’m not a big pink fan though, so perhaps it’s just a matter of there being too much pink in that one).

Because it looks a bit like crochet lace to me, I now have a dozen ideas for clothing pieces using the same weave (more things that will have to wait, until my budget is able to match my wish list, anyway).

I decided to use the leftover champagne rings to knock up a quick bracelet, which is a fairly common version of the weave I think, but I did end up quite liking it teamed with black.

Despite not being the biggest fan of aluminium for jewellery, I can’t help but be attracted to all the pretty colours and infinite combo possibilities.

Stats for these pieces:

  • Large rings are 16G 5/32″ or 1.2mm x 3.97mm ID
  • Small rings are 20G 1/8″ or 0.8mm x 3.18mm ID

Seriously Spiked – Chain Mail Necklace

One idea often leads to another, and a few months ago I used the double vision chain mail weave to make a similar bracelet. Not long after, I thought it would make a good wallet chain, and when finished I took this photo…

I was looking at it the way the chain curves and the how the spikes look a bit like teeth, then decided it actually looked a little like an ‘alien’ spine, so came up with the idea for making something with spikes on both sides of the chain. In the end, it was necessary to alternate the direction of the weave to get it to work the way I wanted to, but it turned out pretty much as I had envisioned (which is rare!)

I plan to take this idea a bit further and construct something much more elaborate, just need to get enough material together. In the meantime, I’m trying to include a bit more non-silver material into my work (particularly brass and bronze), so will hopefully have something a bit different to show soon.

 


Chain Mail Scarf Lariat Necklace

So, my computer died a while back and I’m currently having to share a lap top until I can replace mine. You’d think less time on a computer would mean you have heaps more time to get other things done, but for some reason it hasn’t quite worked out that way, but I did get the chance to finish off this piece – a remake, pretty much, or something I attempted a year ago.

One of the first projects I wanted to try my hand at was a chain mail scarf – just a nice, long strip of European 4-in-1. The first time around I used 14 gauge bright aluminium rings, so it was bigger, chunkier and even longer (by about 20cm). It looked ok, but you certainly wouldn’t have been able to call it a piece of jewellery.

These are 21 gauge stainless steel rings with a 5mm OD, meaning the weave is a much finer mesh than the 14 gauge piece. I used around 1600 individual rings, which may or may not sound like a lot, but it’s probably about 5-10cm shorter than my ideal (ran short of rings, but decided it was ‘finished’ after adding the chain tassels).

The main goal was to create something that din’t look too much like a scarf or necklace in particular, but could more than easily be used as either, which was where the first one failed.

I know there’s nothing particularly special about a piece like this – it’s a pretty basic weave and, truth be told, didn’t exactly take many endless hours, but I’m still pretty pleased with it. Plus, about half-way through I had an idea for an E-6-1 version that will (hopefully) be a bit different.


Butterfly Bracelet & Earrings Tutorial Published

I just wanted to let everyone know that a project tutorial I put together for these pieces was recently published in Digital Beading magazine. It’s quite a simple weave to do, so suitable for beginners.

The magazine can be purchased for just AU$4.95, which is a very small price to pay for 158 pages – for the maillers, it also includes a tutorial for a gorgeous beaded European 4-in-1 bracelet by Deb from Aussie Maille. Click here to check out the mag!

Kits for these pieces are also available to purchase from Aussie Maille, with a variety of colours to choose from. Click here for the bracelet, and here for the earrings.  To check out the beaded bracelet kit, click here.

While you’re at it, check out Aussie Maille’s new blog, sure to be a great place to keep up with all things maille-related.

My thanks to Kelly Nealon, Digital Beading’s editor, for putting it all together, and to Deb from Aussie Maille for supplying the materials for the project and making the kits.


Helm Flower Cluster Statement Necklace

I’ve shown a couple of pieces recently using helm flower units, but this was one of my first ideas for how to use them, although I originally wasn’t going to use colour. I recently bought a bunch of mixed anodized aluminium rings (random sizes and colours), which pretty much resulted in thinking of things to use them for, looking to see if there were enough rings for my idea, start making it regardless, and seeing what happens.

So, this happened when I decided to apply randomness (in as much as  could), to an older, more structured idea – helm flowers in various colours and sizes, connected with little flower links, plus some butterflies thrown in – chaos and gardens go fairly hand in hand with butterflies.

I always feel that unique pieces like this need a name, so this is Serendipity (not exactly original, I know, but it’s apt none the less). The colours were determined by what I had in the right ring sizes and amount, and placement was mostly random, though as I had more pink and blue than any other colour, I did try to space them out a bit, and the design itself is symmetrical, so there’s an underlying uniformity to it all.

I still have a heap of different AA rings left to play with, so I’m sure there’ll be more colour experiments to come.

AM


Chain Mail Statement Pieces

These pieces were part of my resolve to try and make something a little more unique, although in saying that, they were inspired by some bridal wear I spotted while browsing etsy last year – such as this.

I’m sure you can see there’s a lot of potential for experimenting with the basic concept, and while my first two attempts aren’t quite as elaborate, I first wanted to get a feel for basic construction, where it might need support to sit the way I envision, and whether my first idea – a necklace with a “wrap” around the shoulders, was actually wearable for a decent length of time without becoming uncomfortable or continually displaced.

Obviously, I could still jazz this up quite a bit if I wanted to, but for my first attempt I wanted to keep it quite simple and used some pretty basic weaves in stainless steel. The diamond shape at the centre is Japanese 12-2, and the rest is European 4-in-1, interrupted with larger rings just for  a little extra interest, and to help match the two weaves with one another.

All in all, I consider it a success, as it sits the way I wanted it to. I also wore it around the house for a little while and was pleased it didn’t get cumbersome or shift around when I moved.  I also realised the chain that wraps around the shoulders can also go under the arms for a slightly different look, and used that to solve a problem I had when finishing off the next attempt.

I really didn’t have a set idea in mind when I started this, only that I wanted it to be more “interesting”. I started with making helm flowers in the purple, adapting them slightly (making the weave quite tight and firm, causing them to take on a more diamond shape). I ended up adding in the blue mobius rings after realising a chain with such a bold purple really needed something to break it up and contrast with, which the steel just doesn’t do. Ultimately, I just kind of threw ideas at it and kept what seemed to work!

What didn’t work was trying to make the lower chain sit at shoulder level – primarily because I’d used all the purple and blue rings doing what you can already see, and I couldn’t find something that would both complement them and keep it sitting higher up (the stainless steel one works, even though it only has one point of support, because it’s actually a lighter chain, and is balanced by equal weight at the back); plus, I really liked the way the lower chain zig-zags across the chest, and adding in more support would have meant it followed a rounder line like the necklace.

So, that’s a couple of the ideas I’ve been working on – I’d like to do something quite a bit more gothic with this idea…eventually!

AM


Understanding How To Make Jewellery Ideas Work

This isn’t so much of a ‘how to’ as it is a few thoughts on my personal experience, which I hope might be of help to other beginners who, if they’re anything like me, have a thousand ideas that only sometimes seem fully realised.

If I made any resolution for the new year, it was to try and make more distinctive, one-off pieces. That was actually my primary goal when I first started mailling, or rather, the reason I started mailling, since it wasn’t something I really saw in mainstream jewellery, but when I first started making jewellery (before I’d even looked at chain mail techniques), I quickly realised that my ideas were rarely translated well to finished pieces. The reason being I simply didn’t have the knowledge or technical skill to do so, and it took me a while to realise that putting a bunch of components I liked together without understanding or knowing how to properly refine the ‘fit’ was like trying to finish a puzzle with pieces missing, you might know exactly what the picture is supposed to look like, but without those pieces it’s just not going to look right.

So, for the last year or so I’ve been building on my basic skills, and I guess you can say I’ve been ‘learning the language’; learning how to fill in the blanks, construct, deconstruct, and play with formation in the hopes of ultimately arriving at my own distinctive style – something more than being able to construct weaves well enough. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but being able to create pieces like this makes me feel like I’m one step closer (particularly in comparison to the first piece of mail I made!)

This matching necklace and earrings is still quite simple in terms of design and construction (helm flowers with azurite chrysocolla beads), but  I think it has a level of finesse that I wasn’t able to give my jewellery a year ago. I used to try and make my ideas work no matter what, often using crude methods that resulted in poorer quality, and even downright ugly, pieces. Wanting to be able to create unique, hopefully desirable, jewellery meant I had to stop being as impatient as I usually am with artistic pursuits and start from the beginning, which has also meant I’ve been able to progress from ideas inspiring the drive to create, to skills and knowledge being able to inspire new ideas (especially when the original idea just won’t work, at least not yet).

These pieces are actually quite far removed from what I wanted to do with the Helm flowers, but matching them with the chrysocolla beads was (for me) unexpectedly effective, both in terms of the colour combo and the alternating shapes. I’m also glad I persisted with some of the wire techniques (having come to chain mail after giving up on wire-work). I haven’t perfected them, but I’m glad I can do some of the basics well enough to incorporate a wide variety of different materials to the mail.

I still consider myself a beginner, and I’m still at the stage where I’m predominantly in awe of, and inspired by, the work of others, but I’m also beginning to see that concentrating on learning over just trying to be different has started to result in my ideas actually working and in more accomplished pieces.


Rainbow Dragonfly Chain Mail Bracelet

I’ve been working on a few new designs the last month or so, which I plan to post soon, but for the first post of 2013 I thought I’d go with something bright and colourful.

This piece is really centred around the clasp, which is one of those things I had to buy and then took me ages before I came up with an idea to use it. (I have a tendency to spend a lot of time just looking for interesting multi-strand clasps, then not quite knowing what to do with them to really set them off).

As it turned out, the bracelet is probably amongst the simplest pieces I’ve ever made, since the silver rings are closed and the weave is rather quick when two-thirds of the work is already done, not to mention they’re on the larger size, so less rings per cm (or inch).

The weave is European 6-1, and as you can see in the image below, the overall AR is quite high (the silver rings have an OD of 8mm and are about 1mm thick, and the anodized aluminium rings through the centre are 1.2mm thick with an ID of 6.35).

The overall effect of using a larger AR with this weave is that the rings take on a kind of zig-zag pattern when stretched out a little, as it is when worn – something which I think is quite effective with the multiple colours and I’m hoping to use that to my advantage with a peacock inspired colour scheme in the near future.

AM

 


Angelic Mechanism – Men’s Steampunk Inspired Necklace

I really love some of the steampunk  jewellery I’ve seen by some (very ) talented artists, and while I don’t quite have the skills (or components) to piece things together for a ‘real’ steampunk piece, I really wanted to try my hand and putting something together inspired by some of the more common motifs.

I also have a distinct lack of jewellery specifically for men, usually just going for chunkier materials or using square wire rings for a more masculine edge, but no genuinely original designs, so I decided to take the steampunk theme and try to create a distinctly masculine piece, and I’m fairly happy with the result.

The focal chain at the centrepiece is a mix of links – the silver gear connectors, solid faceted round silver rings, and square wire brass rings formed into mobius units, all linked with round stainless steel rings. The pendant is a simple wing stamping attached to another gear connector with plated copper wire.

The rest of the chain is just a simple 3-3 link using smaller and finer gauge stainless steel rings for a ‘rollo’ effect, which also reminds me slightly of a bike chain, so I thought it was in keeping with the theme. I would have actually preferred the two cog connectors at the side to be smaller, but beggars can’t be choosers, unfortunately.

Still, although quite often things I try to make masculine somehow inadvertently take on an obvious feminine aesthetic, and despite thinking this piece could just as easily be worn by a woman, I think I managed to achieve what I was trying to with this – and for once there’s no skulls, spikes or dragons in sight!

AM


Spiked Chain Mail Jewellery

Spiked jewellery is something that has remained fairly consistently popular, and certainly seems to go well with several chain mail weaves, so I had a bit of fun with them recently and thought I’d post a few of the results.

The main image is a necklace that can be worn high for a choker, or lower for a standard necklace. I based this on the Double Vision¹ (aka Barrels) weave, but chose larger rings connecting each of the units so that I could fit the spikes on them (I originally put a spike on each large blue ring but it made the chain just a little to stiff as the spikes take up just a little too much room and push the silver rings slightly outwards).  At the centre is a Not Tao 3 unit being used as a bail, and just a very simple alloy metal pendant to set it off.

This bracelet uses the same basic weave and design as the necklace, except that there’s only two rings at the centre of each unit, and the larger connecting rings are slightly bigger, allowing me to attach a spike to each one.

After that, I had a go at some earrings, and made several pairs based on the following basic design.

Each additional pair I made, I used a different bead to adorn them, in between the chain and the spike. They’re all rather simple in terms of design and construction, but I thought the results were quite effective.

AM

1. The Double Vision weave uses two rings at the centre, as shown in the bracelet, and I’m certain there’s a proper name for a weave that uses three rings (as there is for one ring – RSD), I just don’t know what it is and couldn’t seem to find it.


Japanese 12-2 Flowers

I thought I’d put all the recent projects using this weave into the one post, particularly as the only real variations are material / colour, and purpose. The flower units are made using the Japanese 12-2 weave, which can be expanded upon for much larger projects. So far, I’ve just mostly made the little flower shapes using it, which I’ve either linked together for chains or used as components in earrings.

The first picture is made from orange anodized aluminium rings (matte), which is a colour I wanted to play with a little as you don’t see it used too often. The connecting rings are stainless steel. (The AA rings are 18 gauge, 5/16’s and the steel rings have a 5mm OD, using approx. 0.7mm thick wire – just a little thinner than 20 gauge, anyway).

The rest all use the same basic structure to make bracelets and earrings. The units can be linked together in different ways as well, eg 2-2 instead of the 1-1 link I’ve used, which will make the individual units look a little less floral as well as make the chain sturdier, or you could form a loose web.

AM


Chain Mail With Square Wire Rings

 

 

 

I’ve been wanting to experiment with square wire rinsg for a while and finally got around to buying some recently. I’ve pretty much just stuck with a few of the more basic chain weaves, just to get a feel for how it looks.

The bracelet pictured above is a single strand of European 6-in-1, with square copper and round stainless steel rings (a colour combo I have come to really like). Somewhat frustratingly, most of the places I’ve looked at to buy square wire rings don’t give you any dimensions for them other than wire gauge, which can make it difficult if you’re looking to mix and match rings with other materials. I pretty much just took a stab in the dark when I bought mine, since I had no specific intentions for them and just wanted to experiment.

In the end, I made a few bracelets – the one above, plus a Half Persian 3-in-1 and Byzantine in copper,  then a Half Persian 4-in-1 in brass (that last one isn’t quite finsihed, so no pic of that just yet).

The square shape of the wire seems to make the closures a little more noticable for a saw cut ring, but it’s still fairly minimal and either way the seams can’t be felt – I’ll hopefully have the resources to do a nice Japanese 12-2 weave with square wire rings soon.

AM


Not Tao 3 Choker (Green, Black & Silver)

The Not Tao 3 unit has always reminded me a little of the biohazard symbol (not an exact match, I know, but the similarity is enough for me), so when I saw the gas mask pendants I decided to combine the two for a choker.

While I did take a look at this tutorial for Not Tao 3, I din’t have rings in those sizes and also found it easier to construct the units in a different way, which I’ll try to get around to posting soon as I think it would work well for most Not Tao units. (These units use 1.2mm thick stainless steel rings with an 8mm OD, so an AR approximately 4.65, and just the standard AWG 18G – 1.2mm – 3/16’s, AR around 4. They aren’t super rigid on their own, but work well in a chain as they maintain both shape and a little flexibility).

Once I’d made a few units, the first problem to solve was which way to link them together for a nice looking chain – obviously from the image, I went with a very simple 2-1-2 link between each unit, but I do have a habit of overcomplicating things from the outset and first tried to link two points together so that I’d ultimately have to link two to two, then one to one and so on….if that makes sense.

I also tested linking them so that every second unit had the point facing the other way so that it would take on a bit of a zig-zag pattern, but while that could work for a bracelet, it’s ultimately a little awkward for a choker.

I think this would probably look good with some neon green crystals set into the eyes of the mask, or possibly done in red. For an even more elaborate cyber punk look, I’d go for some green spikes attached all the way around.

AM


Redesigning Old Work

 

Several months ago, I purchased a bunch of white and purple AA rings, intending to make some snowflake units. That didn’t quite pan out (an AWG vs SWG issue with the rings sizes I bought), so I learned the butterfly weave shown above. (Still yet to get around to actually making snowflakes!)

This choker was one of my favourite pieces in its original form (shown below), as it was probably one of the first things I made that I was personally impressed with.

 

As you can probably guess, I have a bit of a thing for purple (in various shades), but despite the fact that it was something I’d definitely wear myself, no one else seemed to think it was all that great, so I decided to give it a makeover – I switched the bright aluminium for black, took off the crystals and added the heart and wing pendants, and voila, a slightly darker, more Gothic looking piece.

The difference isn’t overly dramatic, but I think it’s an improvement and it just goes to show that some pieces can take months before they’re truly finished (if they ever are!)

AM


Gothic Sword Necklace with Beaded Byzantine Chain

One of the most frustrating things about designing and making jewellery can also be one of the best things about it too – namely, when things don’t quite go according to plan, yet sometimes that works out for the best.

This piece started out with vague intentions of either  a multi-strand bracelet, or the chain for a wirework tree of life pendant I made, but once the basic chain started to take shape and I could get a clearer idea what the finished piece might look like, it became clear neither of those two were really suitable, so i started thinking about a choker with lots of overlapping chains….

None of those really worked out, then I rememberd this pendant I had, sitting unused with a whole bunch of others. I bought it mostly because I really liked the overall gothic aesthetic it has, with the filigree style frame and ornate pattern. It’s not technically a sword, but as it’s in the shape of a broadsword, it makes it easier to refer to it as one.

Once I had matched the pendant to the chain, it needed a few finishing touches, so I added half-byzantine drops on the outside, with clear crystal teardrops and more pearl beads.

The chain itself is made from 6mm OD stainless steel rings (1mm thick), the darker silver colour of stainless steel really complements the “vintage” silver tone of a lot of components available these days, so I combine both quite often, and I think those gunmetal coloured pearl beads make the piece stand out a bit more than a simple, true black would have – probably the most ‘Victorian’-looking piece I’ve made so far.

AM


Playing With Fire – Heat Treated & Oxidized Chain Mail

The last couple of weeks I’ve been looking at ways to play with metal itself as well as design and I’ve been very fortunate in that a fellow jewellery designer is both willing and able to heat treat some of my finished chains.

The above example is a Jens Pind Linkage 3 chain made from 316L stainless steel and as you can see, there’s quite an array of possible colours – my photo doesn’t really do it justice as there’s some gorgeous blues and purples that don’t quite show, but that’s the result of essentially cooking the chain in a fire furnace. The different colours are a result of the metal reaching different temepratures; some of them quite matte and rustic looking, others almost glossy.

These two European weave bracelets were subjected to the same treatment – the first one is a heavier gauge European 4-1 in 316L stainless steel, and you can see that the clours are quite similar to the JPL. The second one is a European 6-1 weave in 304L stainless steel, and while the colours are similar, I think there’s a notable difference in the lustre, particularly in the darker colours.

I also decided to experiment with oxidizing copper after reading it could be done with boiled eggs (due to the sulphur in the yolk). I decided to use the byzantine bracelet I posted last time, which originally was quite bright.

To treat this chain, I hardboiled two eggs and, as soon as they were out of the water, placed them in an airtight plastic bag (ziplock or press-seal, depending on where you live). I didn’t bother taking the shells off, and it doesn’t really make any difference if you do, but I quickly realised that it’s wiser to as once they’re in the bags the eggs need to be crushed up quite well and the sharp points actually tore holes in the plastic (which I only noticed when crushed egg started oozing out on to the floor).

So, once safely sealed in a new bag, I tossed in the bracelet. The article I read said half an hour would do, but there was absolutely no discernable difference in colour after only that long, and even after an hour I could only see tiny spots where the copper had started to darken.

I periodically tossed it around and turned it over for about 3 hours in total in order to make sure that the eventual colour change was even, and this is what I ended up with.

Not really a huge difference, but a noticable one none  the less. I suspect that it would gradually get darker the longer it’s left exposed, but I don’t know if more eggs to start with would have made the process faster, or whether fresher or older eggs are more effective (mine were a little past their use-by date, but definitely not spoilt). Of course, this was covered in small globs of cooked egg when I took it out of the bag, and was a bit of a pain to get clean, but still a worthwhile experiment and a handy alternative using something just about everyone has at hand.

 

AM

 


Three Bracelets

The time since my last post has been a lot longer than I intended, but at least I have (mostly) put that time to good use. Along with learning new weaves, I’ve also been experimenting with different material and techniques.

As may be evident from previous posts, stainless steel is probably the most common material I work with, mostly due to the fact that (in my opinion), it’s the best material for the least outlay, so I thought I’d post a couple of things I’ve worked on recently that use some different materials.

The lighting wasn’t particularly great when I took this picture, but this is Dragonscale made from copper and stainless steel. I really like the look of this weave and immediately had a bunch of other ideas for using it, but have also found it to be one of the most time consuming and material-heavy weaves I’ve learned so far, particularly as the method I used (learned from this tutorial over at CGMaille) adds each ring one at a time. (I did look up a method for speedweaving Dragonscale, but honestly could not wrap my head around the instructions).

The copper rings I bought turned out to be less than ideal for chain mail (although they were advertised as such), which you may be able to see in this Byzantine bracelet.

Despite the flaws of the rings in this piece, the colour of copper seems to suit chain mail work – I favour it over brass and bronze at any rate.

Lastly, while still not quite a fan of gold as a colour, as well as becoming a little disenchanted with aluminium for anything other than decorative components in larger pieces, I made this bracelet in Australia’s official team colours with the upcoming Olympic Games in mind (as an alternative to those disposable rubber bracelets).

I had thought the colour combo was going to be a bit too garish to be passable as a piece of jewellery for any other type of occasion, but I was pleasantly surprised at the overall effect. I’m sure it still has limited appeal, but for my money is a bit more versatile than the silicone wristbands. (As a sidenote, I tried a couple of different Japanese weaves using these colours but they just didn’t suit as much as the butterfly weave).

Still all relatively simple and straightforward, but may give some inspiration to someone else out there.

AM


European 6-in-1 Bracelet (Wide Weave)

Not anything overly special or exciting, but European 6-in-1 is one of my favourite weaves and I rarely make it width-ways (as pictured), so thought I’d post up an example of it made that way.

I’ve found that the basic European weaves (understandably) look and behave quite differently depending on which direction it’s expanded, probably best illustated in the photo below.

Both pieces are E-6-1 and were made from 1mm thick, 7mm OD stainless steel rings, with the top strip woven width-ways and the lower strip woven length-ways. You might also be able to see that due to what I’ll just call the ‘pull’ (i.e. when worn as a bracelet etc, and stretched out), the rings in the top strip sit up a little and make the mail a bit thicker, while the other version tends to sit flat no matter what. Both are still very flexible and form-fitting, so for most jewellery projects it’s probably just a matter of personal preference (I do find length-ways much easier and faster to weave due to the techniques I use, though).

This was just made into a very simple cuff bracelet, which are generally quite popular.