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.
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.
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.