Chain Mail Jewellery & Accessories by Angie Mack

Necklaces

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.

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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.


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.


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.


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