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.
I really love some of the steampunk jewellery I’ve seen by some (very ) talented artists, and while I don’t quite have the skills (or components) to piece things together for a ‘real’ steampunk piece, I really wanted to try my hand and putting something together inspired by some of the more common motifs.
I also have a distinct lack of jewellery specifically for men, usually just going for chunkier materials or using square wire rings for a more masculine edge, but no genuinely original designs, so I decided to take the steampunk theme and try to create a distinctly masculine piece, and I’m fairly happy with the result.
The focal chain at the centrepiece is a mix of links – the silver gear connectors, solid faceted round silver rings, and square wire brass rings formed into mobius units, all linked with round stainless steel rings. The pendant is a simple wing stamping attached to another gear connector with plated copper wire.
The rest of the chain is just a simple 3-3 link using smaller and finer gauge stainless steel rings for a ‘rollo’ effect, which also reminds me slightly of a bike chain, so I thought it was in keeping with the theme. I would have actually preferred the two cog connectors at the side to be smaller, but beggars can’t be choosers, unfortunately.
Still, although quite often things I try to make masculine somehow inadvertently take on an obvious feminine aesthetic, and despite thinking this piece could just as easily be worn by a woman, I think I managed to achieve what I was trying to with this – and for once there’s no skulls, spikes or dragons in sight!
I’ve been meaning to get this done for quite a long time and finally had the chance to take the photos. They’re (mostly) a little clearer this time, so I hope that helps make the instructions easy to follow.
Not Tao units are quite versatile, and they can be made with any number of rings woven around the large, central rings (as long as the sizes fit together well) – I’ve used them as pendant bails, linked them together for a chain, and they would be great components in chandelier earrings.
For this tutorial, basic chain mail techniques (like opening and closing rings) are assumed. To make these, I’m using 18 gauge 5/16’s in red and black (1.2mm thick with a 4.75 ID), and 18 gauge stainless steel rings with an outside diameter of 9mm – that’s an AR of around 4 for the small rings, and an AR of 5.5 for the large rings.
The most important thing when selecting rings for this weave is that the small rings will be able to fit two of the larger rings and one of the smaller rings inside it when closed, after that you can experiment with how many rings can be woven around the outside of your larger rings. The colour and material combos are virtually limitless, but for the sake of the tutorial I will be referring to each ring by the colours shown.
Close three red rings and open three black rings, then connect two large silver rings to the three red rings.
Holding the unit by one of the red rings, you now need to get the two loose red rings in the right position so that a black ring can be added.
Once you have the red rings in the right position, you need to thread a black ring in between the two silver rings and through each red ring – it goes through the ‘top’ of the lower red ring in the picture, then through the ‘bottom of the upper red ring. As this is probably the trickiest bit, and it was a little difficult to get a photo showing how to add the black ring in, I’ve made a very simple graphic that shows how to position the red rings and the path that the black ring needs to follow, as well as taken a few shots from different angles.
After you close the first black ring, you add a second one that follows the same pattern and path to link the third red ring. Remember that you need to keep the black ring between the two silver ones so that it ends up being ‘sandwiched’ by them. It’s quite easy from here, as you can just thread the black ring through the top of the second ring, then – while making sure the third red ring is positioned correctly, bring it through the two silver rings and thread the ring through the ‘bottom’ end of the red ring, as shown.
To finish it off, the last black ring is added and follows the same path as the other two.
Close off the last ring and that’s it – one complete Not Tao 3 unit, which I’ve shown below from the top down view and the from the side, in case it helps make clear how it all comes together.
If there’s anything about this tutorial that’s confusing or isn’t explained clearly enough, feel free to leave any comments and questions and I’ll do what I can ASAP.
As you can see below, I expanded on the idea for the last necklace, adding spikes and crosses to the same basic design.
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).