Chainmaille Jewellery

I’ve been busy making chainmaille jewellery again. The first one is a necklace from the book Chain Mail Jewelry by Terry Taylor and Dylon Whyte. It’s based on a standard European 4-in-1 weave and uses 20g (AWG) 1/8″anodized aluminum rings and size 6 seed beads.

Beaded European 4-1 chain mail necklace

Beaded European 4-1 chain mail necklace

This is one of my favourite pieces I have made so far and I actually wear it quite frequently. I have a sweater that matches the bead colour perfectly and I think it ends up looking quite striking!

Next up is a dragonscale weave bracelet. To make this one I followed the beadaholique video tutorial. I really love the look of the dragonscale weave, but I’ll tell you, it took forever to make, so I’m very glad I was only planning for a bracelet. The outer rings are 18g (SWG) 1/4″ silver anodized aluminum, and the inner rings are 19g (SWG) 5/32″ green anodized aluminum.

Dragonscale chain mail bracelet

I think the finished bracelet looks pretty cool, but it’s a little too bulky for my tastes so I don’t know how often I will actually wear it. I am however, quite taken with chainmaille so I’m sure there will be more pieces to come!

Wire Beads

Another post based on a project from the Creativ Festival! This one is from a wire bead workshop by Giovanna Paz. I’ve never worked with wire, so I was completely taken with the photo of these beads when reading the workshop descriptions in the registration book. Here are the earrings and pendant I made in the class, aren’t they fascinating?

Silver and black wire bead earrings

Silver and black wire bead pendant

Turns out they are the easiest things in the world to make. All you need is a coiling tool. I picked up the Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo at Micheals with a 40% off coupon for less than $10.

Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo

Clip it on a table and you’re ready to go:

Coiling gizmo set up

I’m using 28-gauge, coated copper wire. Holding two strands together you simply wind the wire around the rod piece by turning the crank bit:

Partially coiled wire

Here’s the finished coil, still on the rod:

Finished coil

Pull the coil off the rod and stretch it apart like a spring. The coil on the top hasn’t been stretched yet, the one on the bottom has.

Stretched vs. unstretched coil

Once the coil is stretched out, just start winding it into a ball by hand. It’s the same motion as you’d use to wind up a ball of yarn – work for a bit in one direction and then turn and wind in another direction. The goal is to get the little individual coils to fit together to make a fairly compact ball.

Starting to roll up the coil

Voila! Gorgeous wire beads that look at lot more complicated than they actually were.

Red and black wire beads

You can really vary what the final beads look like based on the gauge of coil rod you use, how long a coil you make, and how tightly you compress the bead as you form it. And of course, the colours of wire you choose!

I seriously can’t stop making these things. Here are the smaller red ones from above finished into earrings. And a pair of green wire beads made using a finer gauge of coil rod.

Wire bead earrings

And a few more (mostly pendant sized) beads with a ruler for size comparison.

More wire beads

If you’re interested in making these, Giovanna sells a YouTube video tutorial through her Etsy store, as well as many colours of 28-gauge wire.

I couldn’t resist buying a huge pile:

28-gauge wire

Or, if you prefer, Giovanna sells the finished earrings as well!

HyperLynks Chainmaille

Hands down, my favourite thing I did at the Creativ Festival in Toronto was a chainmaille workshop with Michelle Brennan from HyperLynks. Michelle is a former high school teacher who left her teaching career to follow a passion for chainmaille and co-found the company HyperLynks. She is the designer of many beautiful chainmaille jewellery kits, while her husband makes all the jump rings.

With a background in education, Michelle has the talent and patience (as well as the incredible sense of humour!) needed to guide even the most novice chainmailler through the steps to create complex weaves. In this workshop she taught her Clockwork Weave as we created a bracelet using bronze and aluminum rings. Here’s the final product:

Clockwork weave chainmaille bracelet

I’ve done a small amount of chainmaille before and enjoyed it, but this class really got me excited about the craft. I think it’s impossible to take a class with Michelle and not have some of her enthusiasm wear off on you.

After the class I immediately headed off to the HyperLynks booth in the exhibit hall to spend all of my money. I picked up three more of Michelle’s kits as well as three pairs of Xuron pliers. I was previously unfamiliar with Xuron pliers but they are absolutely wonderful for crafting. They are small and lightweight making them very well suited to intricate work. Michelle even worked with the company to design a pair of bent-nose pliers with a 90-degree bend, so of course I couldn’t leave the expo without those!

I’ve been chainmaille-ing like mad since returning home from the conference. First up is the Trellis necklace. I’ve never worked with scales before but these small (1/2 inch long), black scales make for an incredibly striking necklace:

Trellis chainmaille necklace

My favourite of the items I’ve made is the Micro Cogs bracelet. It’s not for the novice chainmailler (my husband had to deal with a lot of grumbling and a few unlady-like exclamations while I was working on this one). Each of the the cog units are only a 1/2 inch across.

MIcro cogs chainmaille bracelet

This kit also came with the instructions and materials for a matching ring. The band on the ring is made from rubber rings in addition to the aluminum jump rings. I’m not in love with the band as I think it somewhat distracts from the cog, so I may come up with another band option. But I love the concept, and it’s surprisingly comfortable to wear.

Micro cogs chainmaille ring

Last up is the Infinity Weave. I love the intricacy of this one and the subtle wave shape.

Infinity weave chainmaille bracelet

I’m incredibly happy with how all of these pieces turned out, and although some of the kits were challenging, the instructions were fantastic – detailed and full of a ton of full colour photos.

HyperLynks don’t sell any products directly through their website, but they do list the stores where the products are available. And if you happen to live near Newmarket, Ontario, Michelle regularly offers chainmaille workshops at That Bead Lady. Sign up for one. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Although once you try out this amazing craft, your wallet might!

Annie’s Simply Beads Kit Club – Mystic

I’m a sucker for surprise bags. Despite being well into my thirties I still find myself occasionally purchasing the mystery grab bags full of candy and toys that are made for small children. Inevitably they are disappointing, but the potential for wonder and excitement always draws me back in.

It should come as no surprise then, that with the rise in popularity subscription boxes have seen over the last few years, I have wholeheartedly jumped into their world. A surprise bag of themed items delivered right to my door? What’s not to love about that? Sadly, I’ve tried a number of different boxes over the last couple of years (primarily make-up or geek themed), and although finding them in the mailbox always fills me with excitement, I must admit that most of what I’ve received in them has gone unused. A box of craft supplies, however? Now that’s a potential win.

When I stumbled across the Annie’s line of monthly craft kits I had to at least give it a try. Annie’s offers a number of different monthly kits themed for various crafts including card-making, knitting, crochet, and beading. I chose to try out the beading kit.

Here’s what arrived in the mail this month:

Kit, multi-tool, beading guide, and beading mat

The first month gets you the Mystic bead kit as well as 3 bonus items – a multi-tool, foam bead mat, and a short beading guide. The first kit is offered at 50% off making the cost only $9. Since I’m in Canada, it was an additional $7 shipping for me.

The bead kit included a nice assortment of beads and findings and the instructions to create a necklace, bracelet, and pair of earrings.

Annie' bead kit Mystic

The bead guide, which provides an overview of the basics of beading, including tools, types of beads and findings, and beading techniques, also contains some additional images of necklaces that were obviously created using this set. Since I don’t wear earrings very often, I opted to make just a necklace and bracelet. Rather than follow the designs laid out in the kit instructions I worked off a picture of an asymmetric necklace from the beading guide.

Here’s my final result:

Bracelet and Necklace made from Annie's Mystic bead kit

Overall I thought this kit provided a good basic intro to beading kit, but I do hope that the kits eventually cover some more advanced beading techniques. At 50% off, I thought this kit was well worth the cost and I’m very happy with the necklace and bracelet I created. I’ll stay subscribed for a least a couple more kits, but my guess is that I won’t find them worth the $20 + $10 shipping they will cost at full price. But maybe this time I will finally find the wonder and excitement I keep looking for in a monthly subscription. You never know!