Chain Mail Jewellery & Accessories by Angie Mack

Bracelets

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

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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


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.


Stainless Steel Chain Mail Slave Bracelet

 

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!)

AM


Sterling Silver Chain Mail Bracelet

 

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).

AM