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.
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.
One of the most frustrating things about designing and making jewellery can also be one of the best things about it too – namely, when things don’t quite go according to plan, yet sometimes that works out for the best.
This piece started out with vague intentions of either a multi-strand bracelet, or the chain for a wirework tree of life pendant I made, but once the basic chain started to take shape and I could get a clearer idea what the finished piece might look like, it became clear neither of those two were really suitable, so i started thinking about a choker with lots of overlapping chains….
None of those really worked out, then I rememberd this pendant I had, sitting unused with a whole bunch of others. I bought it mostly because I really liked the overall gothic aesthetic it has, with the filigree style frame and ornate pattern. It’s not technically a sword, but as it’s in the shape of a broadsword, it makes it easier to refer to it as one.
Once I had matched the pendant to the chain, it needed a few finishing touches, so I added half-byzantine drops on the outside, with clear crystal teardrops and more pearl beads.
The chain itself is made from 6mm OD stainless steel rings (1mm thick), the darker silver colour of stainless steel really complements the “vintage” silver tone of a lot of components available these days, so I combine both quite often, and I think those gunmetal coloured pearl beads make the piece stand out a bit more than a simple, true black would have – probably the most ‘Victorian’-looking piece I’ve made so far.
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.
Before I found my niche (so to speak) with chain mail, I attempted wire work and really didn’t do so well with it – it’s a lot more work, and requires much more finesse and patience, than I expected and I gave up on it quite quickly. Generally I wouldn’t be proud of that, but chain mail was the next thing I tried and while I didn’t get the hang of it straight away, my failure with wire work made me determined to stick it out with the mail. I’m really glad I did, as I love it more than any of the jewellery techniques I have so far learned.
The point, though, is that I have continued to not only admire the work I’ve seen done with wire, but wish I was somewhat competent at it so I can incorporate it into the mail. So that ‘s what these two necklaces were about. They’re nothing special, but they’re definitely a drastic improvement on my earlier attempts.
The first necklace is a simple beaded chain made with black anodized aluminium rings and white crackle glass beads (which I love), plus enamelled copper for the wire work, which I kept quite simple. The pendant is clear glass with a mirrored finish on the back, hence the warbled reflection of me an my camera – I’ve dubbed it the Ice Queen’s Heart.
The other one was quite a bit more work and uses ‘proper’ chain mail, with a stainless steel beaded Byzantine chain – the beads are black agate and smokey grey, translucent glass crystal.
I don’t think wire work will ever become a major component of my jewellery (I still find it a little daunting and frustrating), but I’m glad I persisted until I was satisfied with the result.
I’ve been wanting to incorporate more bead-work into my chain mail jewellery so decided to try wrapping a single bead with the Olivia Byzantine weave. Initially, I planned to make several of the beads surrounded by the chain mail and link them together for a bracelet, but as it turned out I didn’t quite have enough rings to do it, so they became the base for pendants instead.
I used 4mm plated copper wire rings and 6mm Indian agate beads, plus plated copper wire to make the pins and alloy bead caps.
The green is quite murky in both the dark and light shades (almost khaki), but I think it looks quite lovely when contrasted with silver and ultimately makes for an elegant necklace (or earrings, which I probably would have done if I had found four well-matching shades in my bead supply).
My photography isn’t the greatest, but you get the general idea.
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 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.