Feb 072009
 

I love the look of chainmaille (duh) but necklaces can be a bit daunting to make. For one thing, all that silver (or copper!) adds up in cost, making a simple chain necklace out of most people’s price range. And while I love working on maille, 16-18″+ of Byzantine weave gets a little boring!! Finally, there’s the weight…unless you use micro-rings, you’re going to have a necklace that could double as an anchor if you are ever out in a boat and forget to bring one along.

This week, I found a solution that solves for all of the above – and it looks great too! I’d really love to wear this with an open color blouse…any color will do, since all you’ll see is the silver of the Byzantine weave!

Leather and Chainmaille Choker

Level: Intermediate

Materials
1.5mm Greek Leather – 22″ (for 16-18″ necklace)
Sterling silver lobster clasp
Sterling silver soldered jump ring (I used 4mm)
20-22g sterling silver wire (round, dead soft or half hard)
Sterling silver jump rings for chainmaille weave

Cut leather in half.
Fold one piece of leather in half, so you have a loop at one end. Use the 20-22g wire to wrap the loose ends together tightly. Add the clasp to the wrap and rewrap to secure. Use a pliers or crimper to secure the ends of the wire. Run your fingers over the wire to ensure there are no ends poking out!

Repeat with second section of leather, adding the soldered jump ring instead of the clasp. Add one 5/32″ 18g jump ring to the soldered jump ring for easier fastening.

Begin your chainmaille weave, using one of the leather sections as your anchor. I made a Byzantine weave, using 5/32″ 18g jump rings. Try a 2-in-2 weave if you are just starting out, or a Jens Pind Linkage if you feel daring!

The leather sections total 11″, so make your chainmaille long enough to finish the length of the necklace. My necklace is 17″, so my chainmaille section was 6″ long.

Attach the end of the chainmaille to the second piece of leather.

To finish the leather, I wrapped the 20-22g wire around the loop end (nearest the chainmaille) 3 times, and secured the ends. The loop is now tight enough that the leather doesn’t look sloppy, but loose enough to allow the maille section to move a little with your body.

I also think this would look great with the chainmaille oxidized, but keep in mind that you’ll want to create your chainmaille section OFF the leather, oxidize, tumble and then attach the rings to the leather sections.

You can easily adjust the leather length for a shorter or longer necklace. I also think the black Greek Leather would look great with copper – just substitute copper jump rings and wire!

Jan 292009
 

Guess what?! It’s Ornament Thursday time again! This year’s Ornament Thursday team has decided to base themes on colors…and what a wide variety of colors we have in store for you!

One great addition for this year’s events – YOU are invited to join us! If you’d like to get in on the Ornament Thursday projects, contact any of the OT team and let us know you’d like to join. Blog entries are due on the last Thursday of the month, and we’d love to see what you can do!!!

Up first: Celeste – ice blue for January’s winter chill. My contribution dresses up a plain toggle clasp using gorgeous ice blue topaz from The Earth Bazaar, as well as tiny sterling silver round beads, miniscule freshwater pearls, and a few moonstone cubes tossed in for good measure. The clasp is then used as the focal for a simple sterling silver chain…and I think it’s the perfect neck “ornament” for an Ice Princess!

Celeste Wrapped Toggle Necklace

Materials:
16mm plain sterling silver toggle clasp
30g sterling silver wire (about 40″)
Assorted beads 3mm – 4mm (I used round blue topaz and sterling silver, rice freshwater pearls and moonstone cubes)
Bulk chain (however long you would like your necklace to be!)
4mm sterling silver jump rings

My toggle ring was rounded, and wrapping is much easier on a flat surface, so I carefully hammered the larger ring until it was flat.

Next, I secured the 30g wire around the ring, about 4 wraps, leaving a good length of extra wire at the end for a tail.

After securing the wire, I began randomly adding beads, making sure to wrap both around the toggle and between previous beads to keep them secure. The wrapping wire is pretty well hidden by the beads, so don’t worry if it’s a little messy…the trick is to be sure it’s tight and holds your beads in place. Before adding the next bead, I wrap at least twice.

You can see here how I began loading up the toggle with beads and filling the gaps between beads.

To finish the toggle, I secured the wire around several beads and clipped it close to the toggle.

Next, I attached a fairly hefty chain to both the ring and the bar. The toggle can be worn at the front of the chain like a pendant, and the size of the necklace could be adjusted by winding the chain once around the ring and re-inserting the bar through the ring.

 

Jan 242009
 

Busy week…I accomplished a LOT!

First up, earrings to accompany already created necklaces.

Citrine and Sterling

and

“Ruby Jade” Hearts

Labradorite and Sterling complements my Lab Works necklace.

Copper Swirls.

And finally, a chunk of amethyst crystals that just begged to be wrapped. Believe it or not, this is so snug, the stone is not going anywhere despite the open appearance. I really think it showcases the crystals nicely.

All of these pieces are being created for the Art & Soup show next month…I’m very excited about this show and hope it is successful!

Jan 042009
 

One of my goals for 2009 (oops…I need to post those, don’t I?!) is to be more consistent in taking photos of my work and posting it on my Etsy site. On one of the jewelry message boards I frequent, there is a member who posted “Everything from Week ##” throughout 2008, and I thought it was a great way to journal a year’s worth of work.

So look for “Everything from Week ##” from me, beginning this week.

Up first is a wire woven pendant using some yummy iolite stones (tiny, tiny things…I fell in love with them when I saw them!) and freshwater pearls. The style is taken from an Eni Oken tutorial that I picked up a couple of years ago. I tend to stress about what to do with pendants…I’m not fond of most 100% beaded necklaces with a pendant – I think they take away from the focal – but sometimes I really like to have something that’s finished, not just a pendant for someone to hang on a chain.

I like the way this finished up, with the addition of some iolite and pearl eyepins to a light chain I purchased in bulk from Fire Mountain Gems.

A work-in-progress this week is the chain for a copper pendant that I also made this week. The pendant was created from 14g, 16g, and 26g copper wire – I call it “A Song in My Heart”. I was inspired by Eni’s Jewelry Lessons site challenge for Valentine’s Day…still going to work on the design a bit before submitting.

The chain is a tiny, tiny version of the Jens Pind Linkage weave. I had a hard time getting this weave down, and when I finally did, it was one of those epiphany moments of “Cheese and crackers…what did I think was so darn hard about THAT?!” It’s classified as micro-maille (3/32″ 20g rings), and I can only do a couple of inches at a time before my eyes start to cross.

So, at the end of the first week of 2009, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Join me in the challenge of posting your weekly jewelry making!!

Oct 262008
 

I missed a couple of days here, but with good reason! This past weekend was my annual “girls only” trip – meeting up with friends from all over the country to just relax and have fun.

We’re here in Bloomington, IN, home of the Hoosiers. On Saturday, we visited downtown Bloomington, stopping at Emporium Beads. Emporium has more than just beads – treasures from all over the world! I was seriously in love with some onyx goblets, but decided to hold off on them for now.

Emporium offers a nice selection of beads, both in strands and loose (single) bins. Basic tools, findings, and other supplies like wire and beading thread are also for sale. Prices are reasonable, and while I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, my friend Sara discovered some lovely glass AB beads in shades of purple, blues and bronzes that we turned into a pretty earring and necklace set.

Aug 252008
 

The gang that hangs out at the Michael’s message boards holds monthly challenges, and the challenge this month was to make something primarily of metal.

Well, I love metal…so I couldn’t resist! I actually made two pieces using the same wire wrapping technique.

Challenge rules include that your piece must be made of at least 75% materials available from a Michael’s store…for these projects, I used 26g Wild Wire in fuchsia and teal, as well as 18g silver wire for the frame.

I’ve made two pendants for the August Michaels Challenge. The first is a version of my Fairy Ladder pendant, using the team Wild Wire. For this piece, I also used 18g Wild Wire in silver color for my frame, but I was not happy with the way the frame flopped around when I wrapped it. Michaels, please carry heavier gauges of wire for folks who don’t want to use sterling silver!!! Size on this little pendant is about 1″ long, about 1/4″ across.

Next up, I decided to use some (shhhh) sterling silver wire for the frame, again in 18g. Shape held up much better with this one. Teal and fuchsia wire are used to wrap…I can see a couple of small errors, but overall, I’m really pleased with the way this turned out!! Size on this one is also about 1″ long, 3/8″ across the widest point. Lots of wrapping in that tiny space!

These may end up being gifts for a couple of special little girls I know…not sure yet. I think they would like them, however. :-)

Thanks for peeking…if you’d like to join in the fun on the Michaels board, please join us!!!

Apr 132008
 

My good friend Judy presented me with a challenge a few weeks ago. “Make me a necklace using this pendant.”

She didn’t want a plain chain, and really didn’t have any ideas on what she was looking for…just said she knew I’d come up with something.

When I started thinking about what to do, I first looked for colors. The crystals in the pendant are green, pink and clear AB Swarovski’s…but that green is more of a Granny Smith apple green than anything else. Peridot stones were close, but not a perfect match, and I couldn’t find any colors in seed beads that were even all that close.

I decided to offer Judy options…anything that she didn’t like could be sold, after all! The first thing I tried were some pink 11.0 seed beads interspersed with Peridot chips, and then twisted with another strand of the pink seed beads.

Second try was a tubular herringbone using the same pink seed beads. I love the feel of this snakey chain, and while bead weaving isn’t one of my favorite things to do, it worked up pretty quickly once I got started.

I got my final inspiration after I posted the first two options on a jewelry making forum…I thought about using a chunky chain and tossing in some peridot and light pink Swarovski crystals. Since I didn’t have any chunky pre-made chain, I made my own! The ovals are soldered jump rings, which I then “spread” using my Wubbers chain nosed pliers. I really like the looks of this chain a lot, and I think it sets off the pendant well – a funky and hip look overall.

I like this chain a lot, and I think I’ll make another – it was time consuming, but I think the end result was worth it.

So tomorrow I hope to present Judy with all three options and let her decide which is her favorite. How about you? What other options could I have come up with?

Feb 142008
 

Wanted to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day today...while candy, flowers and cards do it for some, there’s nothing like a little jewelry to make the day special!

As a gift to my beloved readers, here are some basic instructions for “My Broken Heart” – a pendant/clasp necklace that is totally unique!
Materials
16g dead soft, round wire
Bulk Chain, 16+ inches (pendant will be approximately 1″ across – cut chain to the length you want your overall necklace to be.)

Begin by cutting two sections of wire – one 3″ long, one 2 1/2″ long.

Use a round nosed pliers to create a loop on each end of the 2 1/2″ wire.

Bend the wire into half of a heart shape, with the loops facing UP. (If you set the finished shape on a table, the loops will be at a right angle to the table top.)

Using the 3″ section of wire, make a tiny loop at one end of the wire, and use the round nosed pliers to create a small “S” hook. (Steps & photos 1-3 in this tutorial.) Repeat on the other end, with the hook facing the other side of the wire.

Bend this section into a 1/2 heart shape. Clasp the heart together by inserting the hooks into the loops in the first section.

Add chain to the pendant/clasp using jump rings. That’s it!

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Feb 062008
 

Been working busily on a few thing this week…

My Broken Heart (left) is a really unique design. I made this for a Valentine’s Day Challenge on the Jewelry Artists forum, and really love the simplicity of the design. The pendant is a clasp, or the clasp is a pendant…however you want to look at it. Getting outside the box can be fun sometimes! I put the copper version up for sale on my Etsy shop…I’m thinking about making a sterling silver version as well.


Beginning this month, I’ll be working on publishing some “30-Minute Projects”, featuring easy to find components in projects that you can complete in (guess…..) 30 minutes or less. Great for beginners, or for quick last minute gifts. First up – Fun and Fancy Ribbon Bookmark, featuring Swarovski crystals. Mine’s pink…I guess all the romance around Valentine’s Day is showing up in my jewelry creations!

And finally, finally, finally….watch this space for an exciting and important announcement! Maybe today, probably tomorrow…Beading Help Web’s going to help you in more ways than you can imagine!!!