Monday, July 28, 2008

My Newest Chainmaille Design

I may be stuck in a rut, folks... I am fascinated with combining different metals!

Here is my newest chainmaille design -

Flowers, made up of copper, sterling silver, and 14k gold-filled rings, in 6 different sizes.

This pattern took about 2 weeks to design, with a lot of failed attempts along the way. Lots of opening and closing of hundreds and hundreds of rings...

I didn't think it was going to be that difficult, so I didn't even start photographing until about a week into the ordeal.

Part of the delay in development was due to my running out of suitable jump rings, and having to wait for the order to arrive.

Here is a photo from about 10 days into the process - the last failed attempt is at the top, and the final pattern is finally visible below it.

This close-up of my last 2 attempts shows that the flower is visible in the upper design, but just not well-enough developed to suit me.

Then, as I stared at it, (and contemplated the agony of disassembling it once again, opening all those rings...) inspiration struck. I created 2 more flower units, changing the size of one of the rings in the pattern, and reconnected the units by bringing all the rings on the sides together with one larger sterling ring, and the final pattern emerged.

I took apart the previous design (that's 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back!) and got busy assembling the floral units and building the bracelet.

But I still wasn't quite happy with it, and wanted more color in the juncture between the flowers. I spent about an hour attaching and removing rings, trying to figure out how to get a mixture of metals in those connections, and finally gave up and went to bed.

When I got up yesterday, I continued building the flower units and connecting them, and it suddenly hit me - I could connect the units with an even larger sterling silver ring, and nest a copper ring inside the large silver ring...

This worked perfectly, so I disassembled the bracelet, again, and reconnected all the units, and finished it off with this stunning hammered sterling silver toggle.

Then I counted the remaining rings to make sure I had enough for a pair of earrings, (didn't want to start something I couldn't finish!) and I just love the result. Now all that remains is to tumble them, to remove tool marks and harden the rings, and I'll be ready to list them on Etsy (if I can part with them!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Collaboration, Part 2

Here is the second bracelet I wire-wrapped with SandFiber's gorgeous peyote beads,

Carol Dean wove the peyote beads with emerald-AB delicas, although they look more teal than emerald to me.

I added sterling silver rombo spacer beads, and then crafted the wire-wrapped bangle with sterling silver wire.

This beautiful bracelet will fit up to 6.75 inches, and is lightweight and flexible.

I have to thank CD for this fabulous idea - adding handmade beadwoven beads to a wire-wrapping project was genius! These two bracelets turned out great!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am addicted to chainmaille...

Look at these fabulous earrings and matching bracelet!

I made them with niobium jump rings in blue, rose, gold, and bronze, and galvanized glass seed beads, using the shaggy rope chainmaille pattern.

The muted jewel tones give them a very organic feel, and I think they look absolutely fabulous.

I am absolutely addicted to chainmaille - I have made 3 very different pairs of earrings, and 5 bracelets, including a pair of bracelets commissioned by a man and wife, using gold and silver jump rings. I also have made half of a byzantine necklace, but I ran out of jumprings and am waiting for the order to arrive so I can finish it.

I am going back to William Holland in mid-August to take chainmaille classes, but this is like some crazy passion - I would rather do chainmaille than anything else right now!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Freeform Wire-Wrapping

I am accustomed to traditional wire-wrapping techniques, but I love freeform beadweaving, so I when I had some down-time at work Thursday, I decided to see if I could combine the two.

And here is the result:

I am crazy about this bracelet! I had several different gauges of copper wire to play with, and a nice selection of blue-green stones and beads. I grabbed a few copper beads for accents, and was all set.

After forming the bracelet frame with 14 gauge copper wire, I started adding the beads, and it really was very similar to making a free-form beadwoven bracelet - wherever I saw an empty spot, I just wove some more beads into the pattern, using thin copper wire instead of Fireline!

This bracelet has a very organic feel and appearance.

It is easily adjustable by spreading the frame or squeezing it closed, and because the frame is a thick gauge, it holds its shape once adjusted.

As much as I love this bracelet, it is now available in my Etsy shop!


Monday, July 7, 2008

My Collaboration with SandFibers, part 1

After I finished my Byzantine Bracelet yesterday, I sat down to work on my collaboration with SandFibers.

Carol Dean Sharpe, the brains behind SandFibers, had dreamed this up after seeing a previous post here, and we were off and running.

Here, Bailey delivers the package of beads from CD.

Here are CD's beautiful peyote beads.

Enough for 2 bracelets!

I decided to work with those gorgeous gold-plated beads first.

Here are my materials, all spread out and reading for wrapping.

I have cut my wires, and played with the beads to figure out how I want to arrange them in the bracelet.

And I have my 2 pin vises, ready to twist some of the wires.

Now I have twisted 2 of the wires, and I am ready for the hard part - trying to get all the wires to fit together.

Here, I have bent the longer wires, so as to form an eye and a hook, and loaded the beads on the center wire.

Then I start trying to get the wires to fit together. The wires want to tangle and cross over each other, and just generally not cooperate.

A little masking tape helps keep the bundle of wires in place.

Close-up of the bundle, ready for the first wrap.

Now I have placed the first wrap, and slid down 2 beads, in preparation for placing the second wrap.

The wraps are falling into place

About half-way done now.

Getting there.

All the wraps are in place, and I need to finish up the ends.

The ends are all trimmed up, and it is time to form the bracelet on the mandrel. After the bracelet is form, I will fashion the hook.

All finished!

Here is the finished bracelet, next to the chainmaille bracelet I also made yesterday.

Next weekend, I will tackle this project with CD's gorgeous emerald peyote beads.

Thanks for the idea and the assist CD - it turned out great, huh?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Conquered the Byzantines!

I taught myself the Byzantine pattern this afternoon -

One of the beading magazines had instructions, so after lunch I grabbed my pliers and my jumprings, and settled down to learn something new.

After 45 minutes, I had this:

And 3 hours later, I ran out of jumprings, but my design was long enough to attach a toggle, so now I have a byzantine bracelet!

Opening and closing all those jumprings hurts my arthritic wrist, but I am just crazy about chainmaille!

As soon as I secure some more jumprings, I'll be making more of these - this pattern is gorgeous!

But for now, I've got some wire-wrapping to attend to....

Thursday, July 3, 2008

4 Treasuries in one day!

I arrived home from work today, logged onto Etsy, and discovered that my designs had been featured in 3 separate treasuries - what an honor!

My Starfish Spiral Necklace is featured in this stunning collection by countryrustic. The colors in this treasury are gorgeous, and it is fun to see all the different ways Etsy artists have worked starfish into their designs.

Makes me want to go scuba diving - now!

My friend and fellow bead-weaver, Carol Dean Sharpe, aka SandFibers, curated this absolutely sublime peach-themed treasury, and included my Just Peachy Earrings, which were designed as a tribute to independent lampwork artisans.

CD always does such a fabulous job with her treasuries, and this one reminds me of peach ice-cream, which would be delicious right now - in this 98 degree weather!

Thanks for including my earrings in this collection, CD!

Sharon, of manamoonstudios, curated this beautiful treasury, and included my wire-wrapped Vintage Crystal Ring. The colors she chose for this fabulous collection are lovely, as always!

Thanks for thinking of me, again, Sharon!

Another beadweaving friend, totallytwisted, included my wire-wrapped Ammonite Pendant in this collection she curated on 7/1/08. Who knew this many fabulous ammonites could be found on Etsy?
What a great theme for a treasury! Thanks, Jean!

This treasury has not expired yet (as of this post), so that makes 4 treasuries at once for me - a new record.

Thank you ladies so much for making my day!

I hope my readers will take a few minutes to visit the shops of these fabulous artists!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!