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I Dream in Chainmaille

I have been weaving a lot of chainmaille lately.  It had been a few years since I’d played with lovely metal rings and pliers.  I had forgotten how much I love it.

I will share some pictures of my latest projects but first I thought I’d share some of the places I find supplies and inspiration.

Let me preface the rest of this post with 2 important things.

1 – I am not affiliated with these businesses in any way.

2 – I am not being paid.  However, if any of these businesses see my post and would like to send me some rings, I promise to put them to good use – and talk about it later.

Instructions

Chainmail Basket – doesn’t appear to have any tutorials of its own but is essentially a site that curates the tutorials from Maille Artisans. Fantastic charts and links. Really fabulous resource site.

David Chain Jewelry – some free, some paid, interesting variety of tutorials. I was impressed with the free tutorial for making a magnetic clasp.

Dylon Whyte – author of beautiful tutorials and several books for jewelry making. Tutorials can be purchased through his Etsy store.   Some of his patterns are available for free at his Art of Chainmaille website.

Maille Artisans – fantastic site with free tutorials on every weave I could think of a dozens and dozens I can’t. The galleries of finished projects are really inspirational and the forums are a good place to go when you get stuck. The site can be a little overwhelming due to the huge number of tutorials and gallery photos.

Maille of the Dreamseeker –last updated in 2007. Ten tutorials for jewelry, candle holders, dice bags, etc. Plus a site of several chainmaille inlay patterns.

Maillers Worldwide – free tutorials and galleries of finished projects. Not as comprehensive as Maille Artisans and you have to get a free subscription/account to access the tutorials. Active forums are a great place to visit for advice.

Supply Sources

Remember that when buying jump rings from non-chainmaille sources, sizes are usually the outer diameter. For chainmaille, the inner diameter size is the important size. While you can use the wire gauge and outer diameter to find the inner diameter but you need to be aware that this is necessary.

Aluminim Jumprings.com – aluminum, copper, brass, bronze, rubber, silver, silver-filled, etc. – I have not purchased from this company.

Art Beads – not chainmaille but a good place to buy findings and bling, tools, wire, etc.

Bead Sisters – geared toward jewelry. UK based. Large selection of kits, tutorials, tools, and base metal rings. Also have rubber, sterling silver, niobium plus findings, many types of beads, Swarovski crystals, all types of wire and stringing materials, and knitting spools and accessories. Some really nice free tutorials. – I have not purchased from this company.

Blue Buddha Boutique – geared toward jewelry. Large selection of kits, tutorials, tools, and base metal rings. Some really nice free tutorials. I buy from here frequently.

C & T Designs – geared toward jewelry. Kits, tutorials, base metal rings, sterling silver, and argentium silver rings, findings, tools, etc. – I have not purchased from this company.

Chainmail Dude –Seems to be geared toward jewelry and armor. – I have not purchased from this company.

Chainmail Joe– bulk aluminum rings and kits for making wearing chainmaille armor. I have not purchased from this company.

Fire Mountain Gems – not chainmaille but a good place to buy findings and bling, tools, wire, etc.

Metal Designz–Gold filled rings, sterling silver rings, rubber rings, base metal rings. Check out their etched scales; just beautiful. I have not purchased from this company.

Rio Grande – not a chainmaille source but a one stop shop for jump rings, wire, tutorials on making your own jump rings, tools for making your own jump rings, and everything jewelry. Seriously, everything from casting to beading. Geared more toward the professional jeweler but so much fun to browse.

Spiderchain – gold filled, sterling silver, niobium, and base metal rings. I have not purchased from this company.

Sue Ripsch – geared toward jewelry. –gold filled square rings! These are hard to find. Plus other precious metal rings. No base metals. They have kits and tutorials also. I have not purchased from this company.

The Ring Lord – just tons of rings, scales, wire, etc. in many different materials. Tons of tutorials, free and paid. One stop shop for jewelry and other chainmaille projects. Only complaint is that the time between ordering and getting your order is long so plan accordingly.

Weave Got Maille– sterling silver, argentium, gold filled, and stainless rings. Kits, tools, etc. I have not purchased from this company.

Urban Maille – some of the most beautiful rings I’ve ever worked with. Sterling silver, argentium, copper, twisted, square, etc. Nice tutorials, kits, tools. So much information on weaving. This was the first company I purchased from and it spoiled me.

My recent revisiting of chainmaille occurred because a friend asked me to teach her daughter how to make a Byzantine bracelet.  We had fun and my friend asked me to help her pick out some new projects for her daughter.  I visited Blue Buddha Boutique’s site and looked at the project kits.  And that’s where I started again.  Even though I know how to make many weaves, it was easier to get back into it with some pretty kits.

The first chainmaille project I ever tried was a Japanese 12 in 2 bracelet.  Not exactly a beginner weave.  Even with that and with the numerous projects I’ve completed since then, I have never been successful at Dragonscale.  I used some very good online tutorials and could never get it right.  I have to credit two sentences in the tutorial I purchased from Blue Buddha Boutique for my sucessful completion of a dragonscale bracelet.  I’m now working on a mini dragonscale bracelet.  Isn’t it beautiful?

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What Kind of Statement is That?

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I saw this in one of the numerous group coupon e-mails I get. It is so hideous that I had to share. This looks like something my grandma would have in a drawer.  Way in the back of the drawer, under some expired coupons and after dinner mints from the Olive Garden.

I don’t know what kind of statement this necklace is trying to make but it might be one of the kind that should just stay in one’s head.

I Whip My Hair Back and Forth

For a while I wanted to try one of those non-slip headbands that are sold at race expos. If you run marathons, you know the ones I mean. They look like this:

But they are so darned expensive. And then what if it falls off my head during the race? I’d be so completely pi$$ed. I tried all the ones you can buy at Target and CVS. The best luck I had was with those cotton stretchy ones. The thicker the better. Goodie and Scunci sell them in single packs or in 3 or 5 packs. Even those need to be adjusted relatively frequently. The little elastic “no-slip” or “stay put” headbands don’t work at all (for me). I actually got a free 3 pack in my race goodie bag once, I’m pretty sure they were the Goodie brand. So I tried one for a 5K. It fell off somewhere during the race.

When I did the Columbus Marathon this year, I broke down and bought myself that headband. I also bought one for each of my girls. We love them. They actually stay. But for $15 each they had better.

So about 2 weeks ago I was thinking of ordering a few more because, believe it or not, silver sparkles don’t go with every outfit. I know, I know. I must be mistaken. But alas, I don’t think I am.

But when I saw the price and thought about all the Christmas presents I haven’t bought, I couldn’t do it. Then I thought “I know how to sew. Sort of. I bet I can make these.” So I did.

First I took measurements. Each headband uses 15″ of ribbon, 15″ of velvet ribbon, and 5″ of 3/8″ wide elastic.

Next I went off to my local fabric store with my younger daughter. She’s really picky so I wanted her to see the ribbon before I made anymore for her. Our school colors are black and orange so anything with that will look great with their softball and basketball uniforms.

Picking the elastic was easy.

I picked 2 spools of school color ribbon (one plain orange, and one tiger striped), 1 spool of royal blue glitter ribbon, 1 yard each of some 1.5″ wide shimmery pink ribbon and shimmery black ribbon. And one yard of some extravagant ½” wide rhinestone ribbon.

Then I had to get black velvet ribbon to back my chosen colors. All the ribbon spools were 7/8″ wide and so I bought 4 yards or so of 7/8″ wide black velvet ribbon. There was no 1.5″ black velvet but there was 2″. I bought 2 yards and decided I’d figure out something later. Last I bought 1 yard of ½” wide black velvet for the rhinestone ribbon.

I had plenty of black thread for the bobbin, but needed thread to match the other ribbons. If you use black thread in the bobbin and your other color on top, the stitching won’t be very noticeable.

All told, I made 10 headbands that day. Two orange, two tiger striped, two glittery royal blue, one shimmery pink, one shimmery black (silver), and 2 rhinestone. It took longer to cut and pin than to sew. And the rhinestone ones were hot glued. There is no other way to make those. I wore my rhinestone one the other day. It isn’t as slip proof as the thicker ones, but it’s pretty stable. And it’s adorable. My middle child wants me to make one for each of the girls on her basketball team.

This was a very satisfying experiment. I couldn’t find ribbon as thick as that used in my purchased headband, but I also spent so much less money. The most expensive thing I bought was the rhinestone ribbon. It was $16.99/yard. My bill was just under $60.

So for less than $60, I made 10 headbands. I have enough of the spool ribbons, elastic, and thread to make many more. I just need to buy more 7/8″ black velvet ribbon.

Jolly Old Saint Nicolas

For the past few years now, we have celebrated St. Nicolas Day in my house. I know we don’t live in Europe, but if there’s a holiday I’m up for celebrating it!

We make these little paper shoes. I got my pattern here. They are so much fun to make. The past few years, I’ve used an increased size of shoe. This time I made them in the same size as the pattern indicates.

My kids complained.

But look how cute they are:

In my neverending quest to recycle, all the materials were from other things. The shoe bottoms were all cut out of a box that had held manila file folders or old, beat up manila folders. Every single heel and front were made from a single Panera bread bag. The ribbons and the fake berries were all from gifts (two were the handles from that Panera bread bag) I’d received.

This year I used a glue gun for assembly. It was AWESOME! I love my glue gun. Glues can take a long time to dry or just get messy. The glue gun was easier than the other adhesives I’ve tried.

There have been years were I made these for tons of people. I just don’t have time right now so I limited the recipient list to my immediate family and staff members. It took about 3 hours to cut out and assemble 10 of these.

In another first, I’m not filling them with candy. I made muffins instead (I’ll post the recipe and results soon).

So Happy St. Nicolas Day to you, wherever you are.

Pika Pika Pikachu

I was reading my Instructables newsletter and saw some DIY Halloween costume. That little blurb persuaded me to do some searching to try to come up with something fun for my little son, the Monkey King.

I came across an Instructable for a piñata costume and thought it was really cute. But I don’t like to copy so I had to think about how I could make it my own. It didn’t take long for me to decide that my son would be “Piñata’s revenge”. He would carry a stick and demand candy. Cute right? My son said he wanted to be Pikachu. So we settled on a Pikachu piñata out for revenge.

I went to the Dollar Store and bought a few packs of yellow streamers, a pack of black streamers, and a pack of party hats. I also had to buy a glue gun, glue sticks, and brown construction paper. I used an tee shirt I got for free at a seminar and a stick from my backyard. All told, it cost me about $10 and 5 hours to make.

Here’s how I did it.

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Making Chainmaille Jewelry

(originally posted 1o/26/2008)

I like to make things myself.  There’s nothing quite so satisfying as sitting back and seeing what I’ve created.

So, I like to cook things from scratch – no one can match my french onion soup or my coconut chicken.  I make a pretty mean Spanish rice.  And my polenta always gets the older folks going.  I made polenta for my mother-in-law’s birthday party once, and a year later, my husband’s aunt was still talking about how good it was every time she saw me! Nothing is as good as when I cook stuff with the vegetables out of my garden.  I wish I could say that I grow my own vegetables, but if I was in charge of growing, nothing would grow.  I managed to kill the cactus I bought for my office.  But I do help weed and plant.

I like to write.  I like to draw and paint.

One of my more recent activities is learning different types of jewelry manufacture.  I would like to become proficient in silversmithing.

But this past weekend, I took my first workshop in chainmaille style jewelry making.  I often make jewelry by myself, by looking at pieces and figuring out ways to achieve that look.  I don’t know the correct terms or the different types of tools that are available.

 

japanese flower pattern

 

Anyway, I learned a pattern of chainmaille jewelry and made a bracelet.  It took almost 4 hours and left me with massive hand cramps, but I’m so proud of it.  It’s certainly not perfect but I’m much better at using flat nosed pliers.  I can’t wait to learn the next pattern, it’s my favorite chainmaille pattern, byzantine.

Here’s what I made!

There are some good sources of chainmaille supplies and instruction online.  I’ve found that chainmaille is probably the cheapest hobby in regards to tools.  All you need are two pairs of chain nose pliers.  However, the cost of consumables, assuming you are going to use sterling silver, is pretty steep.

The kit for this bracelet was $55.  Each of the 6 flowers in this bracelet used 24-3mm 19 gauge sterling silver jumprings and 14-5mm 19 gauge sterling silver jumprings.  It takes 4-5mm rings to attach each flower to the next ring.  And an additional ~ 7 jumprings to attach the toggle clasp.  I’m sure it would have been cheaper if I would have purchased the rings on my own.  Be careful when buying jumprings for chainmaille, some places categorize rings using inner diameter and some by outer diameter.  It seems, from what I have seen so far, that places that use the inner diameter measurement are more geared toward people  making chainmaille or jumpring jewelry.  Companies that use the outer diameter measurement seemed to be geared toward other types of jewelry-making and are selling the jumprings as a finding rather than as the focal point of the jewelry.

Once I have some more money to burn, I definitely want to order some of the kits from Urban Maille.  The jewelry on that site is beautiful.  The lady who teaches the chainmaille classes at the studio I go to, buys the patterns and the kits from Sue Ripsch.

The hardest parts of making chainmaille jewelry are:

  1. Knowing how to properly open and close a jumpring
  2. Knowing how to properly hold the pliers – I’m not joking, it took me forever to make this bracelet because I wasn’t holding onto the pliers properly so I kept dropping them.  Sounds stupid, I know but one has to start somewhere.

Silversmithing

(originally posted 9/23/3008)

I want to learn silversmithing (do you learn silversmithing, or just become a silversmith, I don’t know.  I’m a little foggy on the usage of the term).  My first step towards this goal was taking a soldering class at a local bead store/art gallery.

Tonight, I was looking up silver solder supplies, I have a long list of supplies and tools I need to buy before I can really move along any further.  I found some really interesting vendors. As I was surfing through the sites, I fell in love.

Anvils.  Anvils are part of a silversmith’s tools.  Oh, oh, oh.  As of yet I have no need for an anvil, well, no need based on the skills that I’ve obtained.  But I have a very deep need to own an anvil.

Let me try to explain.  My whole childhood, I looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons.  Yeah, I know, I grew up in the stone age, I had to wait until Saturday morning to see cartoons.  I also had to get up to change the channels.  And if you can’t relate than &^*$ you, ya little punk.

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