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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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