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.
I’ve been trying to expand the line of accessories I make and wallet chains was something suggested to me by someone else (which I’m thankful for as I know absolutely nothing about men’s fashion accessories and wallet chains never would have occurred to me). I can see these type of items have the potential to be quite diverse, so I’m glad to have something for men other than jewellery that I can experiment with.
The first two I made are just simple, unadorned chains – the one up top is a stainless steel box weave, which was one of the first weaves I learned but haven’t used it before as I didn’t find it particularly attractive for jewellery. It’s a rather quick and easy chain though, and I quite like it for this type of accessory.
The second one was a weave I’ve never tried before – Captive Inverted Round, in stainless steel and brass.
This weave really frustrated me. The technique is so simple, at the very least in theory, but I fumbled with it consistently and struggled to develop a fluent technique (usually, when I struggle with a new weave, after I’ve learned how to do it properly it doesn’t take long before I can construct it without making errors or fumbling with ring placement, but I found no matter what I did, the captive rings were always precariously positioned and prone to slipping out of place while I tried to put the outer rings back into place, making the weave more time consuming than it really should be – for me, anyway).
Still, as I had originally intended to have two captive rings in the cages but didn’t have enough brass rings (plus it made the chain a little stiff and I don’t like weaves to get the better of me…), I decided to make a necklace using copper rings in place of the brass.
A slightly smoother process, but those rings remain slippery little suckers! For this chain, I used 7mm OD stainless steel rings (1mm thick), and 5.6mm OD copper rings (supposedly 0.8mm thick, but I think they were actually slightly thinner).
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.
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.