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!

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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!

Shrink Plastic Akatosh

I’m having a blast trying out some different techniques for shrink plastic and have found that a really intricate look can be achieved by simply cutting a shape from plain white shrink plastic. As a huge Elder Scrolls: Skyrim fan I decided to have a go at a shrink plastic Akatosh. I started with the Akatosh silhouette created by RocketmanTan on DeviantArt, resized to approximately 5-inches tall. I printed off the image and carefully cut away all the black with a small pair of scissors and a craft knife. I then traced the stencil onto a piece of white shrink plastic and again carefully cut away the image.Shrink plastic Akatosh stencil

A little bit of shaping and the final piece was ready to shrink.
Pre-shrinking shrink plastic Akatosh pendant

This is where I learned that intricately cut items don’t play nice in the toaster oven. I wish I had some pictures of what this did, but I was too busy trying to fix it to snap any. The entire thing managed to completely twist in on itself with the bottom piece curling up and right through the hole in the centre of the image forming a knot. It turns out, however, that shrink plastic is pretty amazing stuff and with enough patience you can fix almost anything. I spent close to ten minutes repeatedly returning the piece to the oven until it started to soften and then removing it and carefully trying to untwist the work. Eventually I did get it untwisted but finally gave up when it came to straightening the sides.

Misshapen shrink plastic Akatosh pendant

I think with enough return trips to the oven I could have eventually straightened it out, but it would never quite be perfect due to the extra stretch the plastic endured from twisting.

Instead I opted to start again, this time leaving more plastic around the outside of the image in the hopes that this would help prevent the plastic from twisting in on itself.

Success!

Finished shrink plastic Akatosh pendant

I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out. People I have shown it to think it was either laser cut or 3D printed. But no, it was just a piece of plastic in my toaster oven.

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!