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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a project I’ve been meaning to attempt for a while. I definitely didn’t want to follow or copy someone else’s design (at least not intentionally), so this was something I just let develop as I wove.
There’s nothing particularly flash or elborate about it, although at one stage the European 4-in-1 patch was beaded – which looked great except for when the piece was actually being worn.
I used three different weaves for this – Half Persian 3-in-1 for the wrist section, European 4-in-1 for the triangular patch and ring, plus a simple 2-1 chain with rings in graduating sizes to connect the ring to the bracelet.
All of the rings are stainless steel, with 4 different sizes used – 7mm OD for the Half Persian 3-in-1 and the European 4-in-1 segment attached to it. 7mm, 6mm and 5mm rings for the 2-1 chain, with 4mm connecting rings, and 5mm rings were used to make the ring (which are about 20 gauge or .8mm, so the finished ring is quite fine and comfortable to wear).
With this particular design, there’s not too much room for including adjustability so it would generally have to be custom-made.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but when I was editing the above photo I couldn’t help but think without the ring attached it would be really easy to make this design into a g-string. Not sure if there’s a market for chain mail g-strings…at least probably not in winter (stainless steel can be a bit cold – you can see it’s winter in Australia by the goosebumps on my hand in the main pic!)
It’s been a while since my last post as unfortunately I recently broke my camera and had to wait a while to get a new one (then learn how to use it properly!)
This bracelet was a custom order for a client, based on a design I had made previously in gold-tone copper wire plus small glass bicone beads.
The beads for the sterling silver version were supplied by the customer and unfortunately I never asked what they were, but at a semi-educated guess I’d say they’re crystal quartz (or something).
Sterling is a great metal to work with and really looks gorgeous – I’ve used so many different materials that are silver in tone but there really is no comparison to the look of genuine sterling silver.
The bracelet is a very simple European 4-in-1 weave with triangular points at alternating lengths, which drape over the hand quite nicely. The silver bracelet was constructed with 20 gauge rings that have a 2.75mm ID (AR 3.4), so a fairly fine weave, plus sterling silver clasp and argentium silver head pins (which I noticed has a less ‘white’ tone than the sterling, but ultimately doesn’t have too much of a contrasting shade).
I’ve been wanting to make a piece using this weave for a while and finally got around to it last week. I thought the pictures I had seen looked quite masculine, but I think mine turned out a little more on the feminine side – possibly due to ring size.
I used 20 gauge wire for both – the large rings are bright aluminium with a 5mm ID and the smaller rings are jewellery brass with a 3mm ID (ARs of 6.25 and 3.75 respectively). I’m not sure how much smaller I could have gone with the brass rings, but the outside rings are a little loose and flip outwards, giving the units a bit more of a lacier, or flowery, look than I expected (the tutorial I followed to learn this weave is here, and if you check it out, you can see that the weave looks a little more masculine when held together as shown in the CGI images – which, as this is only my second attempt at the weave, I’m not 100% sure is actually possible, but my result may be due to the springback of the brass rings used as they were definitely the recommended size otherwise).
The great thing about Camelot is that if you learn this weave, you basically learn 3 weaves – the basis is Helm (although Helm would have two rings through the centre of the larger rings), which builds to Celtic Visions before becoming Camelot, so a really good way to expand your repertoire.
This has been a fairly busy week, but busy in a good way. I decided to try out quite a few new weaves, so have a lot more examples to post soon. (Also, although I’m not sure how well I did with my Half Persian tutorial, if anyone out there has a specific request for a tutorial for anything posted here, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll do what I can).
This bracelet is European 8-in-1, and it turned out relatively well (I’m not entirely happy with the rings, they weren’t perfectly round and the ends didn’t meet properly). When compared directly to a 6-in-1 piece, the differences are noticable but drastically – in the above picture, because of the density of the weave, you can see 8-in-1 has a bit more of a braided look to it (at least from a distance).
These were 20 gauge bright aluminium rings with a metric ID of 6mm, so the AR was 7.5. That probably contributed to the instability of the rings (I’m thinking they were squashed a little when cut), so although it resulted in a really nice, flexible strip, I’d probably go for at least 18 gauge wire if I attempt this weave again.
This is one of the things I like most about these dense European weaves – no matter how closely woven the rings are, the strip is still more flexible than a slinky.
I’ve been concentrating on bracelets recently, so plan to get to work on some more necklaces & earrings over the next couple of weeks – too many ideas, not enough rings!
This weave proved to be a little difficult for me to learn, primarily due to the unstability of the ring arrangement when first started, as well as misunderstanding exactly where each newly added ring goes.
I’m really glad I finally got the hang of it, though, because it’s a great looking weave and very versatile.
The green and silver bracelet is made from 18 gauge 3/16 aluminium rings, (1.2mm thick, 4.75 inner diameter), so have an AR of 4.
The silver chain is made from stainless steel with a wire thickness of 1mm and an ID of 5mm, so this one uses an AR of 5.
I’ve decided that since this has proven to be the most difficult for me to learn thus far, it’d make the best weave for me to use for my first tutorial – hopefully that works out the way I think it will! Look out for it in a week or so.
Next up for me to learn is Half Persian 4-in-1. I’ve been putting it off as most tutorials start with lines like ‘one of the more difficult weaves‘, but it’s also a really attractive weave so fingers crossed it doesn’t take me too long to learn.
I decided to try this version of the Byzantine weave after finishing the brass link bracelet. This weave joins the Byzantine segments together much more densely, so used a fair few more rings to result in a shorter, narrower strip.
This is essentially three rows wide – the first two came together quite nicely, but the third row turned out to be quite tricky to add (not sure if it was due to how compact the weave is, or something else I wasn’t doing quite right, but I had to re-do a couple of the steps after progressing past them, as it seemed to be the only way I could get it all to fit together niceley).
I used 6mm OD stainless steel rings that are 1mm thick, so the AR was 4. Generally, that’s slightly over what I would use for Byzantine, but when the rows are interlocked like this it condenses the centre segments and there’s a lot less room to move.
I used about 450 rings, which made a strip 1.5cm wide and 16cm long, so to do something wider or longer is going to need a relatively significant amount of rings.
Once again, I went for the classic toggle to finish it off – there doesn’t seem to be too many clasps that are really well suited to bracelets like this, so looks like I’m going to have to investigate the possibility of making my own.
This is a great weave, if a little time consuming, and makes a nice, thick chain for men’s bracelets.
The basic structure starts as a European 4 in 1, with essentially another layer connected on top.
This one used 19 gauge stainless steel rings with an ID of 5mm (AR 5). Connecting the top layer shortens the initial Euro 4-1 chain by a fair amount, so it tends to use a fair few rings to get a decent length, but looks great and would probably look very cool woven in two different colours.
It’s finished with a small magnetic in gunmetal black, as it’s a closer match to the colour of stainless steel than any of the silvers.
This slight variation on the standard Byzantine weave probably has an official name, but I’ve been referring to it as honeycomb due to the pattern created by the larger rings.
I spotted a wide cuff bracelet using the same technique (one large connector ring to join Byzantine strands) and decided to give it a go by sight. The bracelet I was working from had used rings not much larger than the rings in the byzantine segments, but I had a bag of mixed brass rings that needed to be used for something, so this is the end result.
I used 6mm stainless steel rings (1mm thick, so an ID of 4mm and AR of 4). I’m not too sure what the size of the brass rings are, but at a semi-educated guess I’d say they’re 18 gauge (1.2mm) with an ID that’s roughly 7mm.
After figuring out how to construct it, I suspect this can be done with connecting rings of almost any size that is either equal to or greater than the rings used for the byzantine segments, as long as the gauge isn’t too thick to pass through the ends and sides. Obviously, it may not work very well with rings that are too large, unless you wanted an even lacier look.
I’m starting to warm up to using gold-toned material, though I think my preference will always be silver. Brass looks great but seems to be highly susceptible to being marked by the pliers, so not a material you want to play around with too much.
I finished this off with a simple gold-tone toggle.
This is my first attempt at weaving a distinguishable pattern into chain mail, so I went with a very simple diamond shape, which works quite well as a stand-alone shape, though it became a little less recognisable as a diamond when as part of a fuller weave.
The weave is a standard European 4-in-1, made with plated copper wire rings each with a total diameter of 4mm, so it’s a fairly fine weave. The rings are slightly different gauges, though – the gold rings are 0.8mm thick and the silver are 0.7mm. Originally, I had intended to border the bracelet with silver rings (which would have made the diamond shape a bit more distinguishable), but due to the slight difference in size, they would have been a little loose and messy, so the gold rings pulled it together quite nicely in the end.
I finished it off with a 3-strand silver-tone magnetic slide clasp, but I think it would work just as well (probably better) with a gold clasp.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the result, so will be looking to incorporate more inlays into my work in the future.
I really like making bracelets with this weave, either single stranded like this red anodized aluminium and stainless steel strip, or wider cuff bracelets like the one pictured below.
Generally, the result is a very flexible, rather form-fitting mesh.
It’s also a great to use for chokers, though it’s a fairly dense weave so, depending on the material used, it can get a bit weighty. The wider cuff bracelet shown above used about 400 7mm stainless steel rings (1mm thick, so 5mm ID and AR). The mail strip is 2.8cm x 17.5cm and weighs 45 grams.
This bracelet was made using the butterfly chain mail weave, from anodized aluminium rings for the blue and white, and bright aluminium for the silver connecting rings.
The weave can be joined by two rings between each butterfly unit, but I elected to use five for a looser, more flexible chain. This one is finished with a magnetic clasp, which is good for short closures between the chain ends.