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!

Chainmaille Button Bracelet

When I find myself with a day off with no obligations I usually end up reaching for my current cross stitch WIP. But for some reason it just wasn’t calling to me the other day, so I ended up rummaging through my craft cupboard for inspiration instead. What I found was this adorable container of buttons I couldn’t resist buying at Michael’s awhile ago.

Container of multi-sized grey buttons

I had no real plan for these when I bought them but have since seen a number of chainmaille button bracelets and thought these would work well for that. So out came the jump rings.

I started with a simple base chain of single jump rings. I used 18 gauge (SWG) rings with a 5/32 inch inner diameter. The final chain was 40 rings long (I think the one in the picture is a little longer, but I ended up removing a few rings at the end). Attach a closure of your choice to one end of the chain.

Base chain for button bracelet

Next comes the fun part, start attaching buttons. I didn’t have much of a system for this. I had seven different sizes of buttons, so I simply tried to alternate larger buttons with smaller buttons. I used whatever size jump rings I happened to have that would nicely fit through the button and base chain without leaving too much extra ring. (This is a great project for using up random left over rings from other projects!). I tried to alternate adding buttons above and below the base chain, although, since the chain twists, this became harder and harder to do as more buttons were added.

Five buttons added to the base chain

I added a single button to every ring of the base chain except three rings on either end, which helps make the bracelet a little easier to put on. Here’s the final result:

Button chainmaille bracelet

Pretty cute, right? I don’t wear a lot of costume jewellery, so if I made another one I think I would only use smaller sized buttons, but since the goal here was to use up the buttons I had, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I think there’s also a lot of room to vary the sizes and colours of buttons to achieve different looks. I’m picturing a bracelet starting with the largest buttons in the middle working out to smaller buttons on either end instead of the randomly positioned sizes I used. I guess I’m going to have to go shopping for more buttons. So much for actually clearing something out of the craft cupboard!

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!

Chain Mail Jewellery

I spent yesterday morning at a fantastic chain mail jewellery workshop. It was taught by Cherida McCullagh of Canadian Made Creations as part of the Huron County Creative Arts Festival. I came away from the workshop with the knowledge of two basic chain mail weaves and enough supplies to complete two bracelets.

The first weave is a basic Byzantine. Here’s the finished bracelet and a close-up of the weave:

Chain maille Byzantine weave bracelet

Chain maille Byzantine bracelet close-up

The second weave is called Rhinos Snorting Drano (gotta love the names people come up with!):

Chain maille bracelet Rhinos Snorting Drano

Chain maille bracelet Rhinos Snorting Drano close-up

Both bracelets are made with 18-gauge, 3/16 inch (inner diameter) rings. The silver rings are stainless steel and the coloured rings are anodized aluminum.

Cherida has been making chain mail jewellery for four years after attending a jewellery workshop herself and falling in love with the craft. She is an excellent instructor and her passion for the art is contagious.

Chain mail is definitely fiddly and hard on the hands, so I have a new admiration for anyone attempting to make an entire suit of armour. But I enjoyed making the bracelets and am amazed by the vast number of weaves that have been created, and how many different looking products can be made with something as simple as jump rings. I certainly see more chain mail jewellery in my future.

Finished shrink plastic cameo

Shrink Plastic Cameo

I finally caught up with my stitch-a-longs a got a bit of time to play with something else. Remember Shrinky Dinks? The thin plastic you’d colour on and then watch as they magically shrunk in the toaster oven into a small hard piece of plastic with a fully detailed miniature version of your artistic creation in tact?

Turns out they are still magical.

After flipping through Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! an absolutely delightful book by Kathy Sheldon and seeing designer Tamara Berg’s take on a shrink plastic cameo, I knew I had to try one out for myself. With a geeky twist of course! Who better to immortalize in shrunken plastic than Link from The Legend of Zelda?

I started with two packages of shrink plastic in clear and white.

Crystal Clear and Bright White Shrinky Dink packages

Since the clear plastic is quite smooth, it’s difficult to colour with pencil crayons unless you rough it up a bit first. Using a fine grain sand paper I fully sanded one side of a piece of plastic – first sanding horizontally across the piece, and then rotating the piece 90-degrees and sanding horizontally again. This meant the piece was fairly evenly sanded. I wiped the sanding dust off the piece with a soft cloth (read my pant leg) and was good to go.

I cut out a three-inch circle for the center of the cameo using a Fiskars circle cutter and then coloured the rough side of the plastic with a green pencil crayon.

Fiskars circle cutterBad move. Cutting and then colouring left concentrated spots of colour around the outside of the circle (which were even more obvious after shrinking).

Poorly coloured circle

So I threw this circle away and started over, this time colouring an area larger than the circle before I cut it out. I also switched to a darker shade of green for the second circle as I wanted to colour to really pop against the white.

For a white piece for the back of the cameo I used the template from the Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! book, but there is no shortage of similar badge shapes to be found with a quick Google search.

You can see through the white shrink plastic a small amount but I found it easier to trace the template onto a piece of white paper, cut that out, and then trace around the paper template onto the shrink plastic.

Here’s the final two circular pieces before shrinking:Cameo circles before shrinking

Lastly, is the silhouette for the center of the cameo. I took the head off this gorgeous Link silhouette by Sora3087. Again, cutting the template out of paper, tracing it onto the shrink plastic, and using a small pair of scissors to cut out the image.

Link stencil and tracing

Link before shrinking

Now for the fun part. The specific Shrink plastic directions (time and temperature) will vary based on the brand and type, but the basic concept is always the same. Place the pieces on a parchment lined tray in the toaster oven and watch as they begin to contract and curl, and then somehow, magically, flatten back out. After the pieces flatten, wait another 20-30 seconds before removing them from the oven, immediately transfer them to a perfectly flat surface (I used my counter top) and place a heavy, flat object on top. (I swear I have some textbooks that I’ve used more since I started crafting than I ever used in the classes they were for. They’re a perfect heavy, flat object).

Here’s the shrunken goodness:

Cameo pieces after shrinking before assembly

All that’s left is assembly. I recently discovered E6000 glue and so far I like it. It’s super strong, waterproof, and dries clear. The only drawback is that it’s supposed to be brushed on both surfaces to be bonded, which is easier said than done when trying to glue an intricately cut shape to a circle. In the end I covered the back of the Link cut-out, but just put a couple spots of glue on the circle in areas I knew would be covered by the silhouette. I then made sure to leave it alone to cure for a day and it seems to have worked out.

After the glue was fully cured I drilled a hole through the two circular layers using a 1/16″ drill bit and fed a jump ring through.

Here’s the final result:Finished shrink plastic cameo

You could use a hole punch to make the hole before baking, but the idea of trying to perfectly line up those holes while gluing the pieces together, and not filling the hole with glue, seemed a little too challenging to me.

This was insanely fun to make, and I have a bunch more Shrink Plastic projects in the works, so keep a look out!