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.
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.
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.
The Not Tao 3 unit has always reminded me a little of the biohazard symbol (not an exact match, I know, but the similarity is enough for me), so when I saw the gas mask pendants I decided to combine the two for a choker.
While I did take a look at this tutorial for Not Tao 3, I din’t have rings in those sizes and also found it easier to construct the units in a different way, which I’ll try to get around to posting soon as I think it would work well for most Not Tao units. (These units use 1.2mm thick stainless steel rings with an 8mm OD, so an AR approximately 4.65, and just the standard AWG 18G – 1.2mm – 3/16’s, AR around 4. They aren’t super rigid on their own, but work well in a chain as they maintain both shape and a little flexibility).
Once I’d made a few units, the first problem to solve was which way to link them together for a nice looking chain – obviously from the image, I went with a very simple 2-1-2 link between each unit, but I do have a habit of overcomplicating things from the outset and first tried to link two points together so that I’d ultimately have to link two to two, then one to one and so on….if that makes sense.
I also tested linking them so that every second unit had the point facing the other way so that it would take on a bit of a zig-zag pattern, but while that could work for a bracelet, it’s ultimately a little awkward for a choker.
I think this would probably look good with some neon green crystals set into the eyes of the mask, or possibly done in red. For an even more elaborate cyber punk look, I’d go for some green spikes attached all the way around.
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.
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 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.