Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dragonscale Variations

Dragonscale is my favorite chainmaille weave. It is a dense, complex weave, and can be challenging. Dragonscale calls for 2 different sizes of jumpring, with the smaller one being required to nestle entirely within the larger one. The many colors and combinations of jump rings available allows for seemingly endless combinations to this fascinating and interesting pattern.

This was my first Dragonscale:

I had seen quite a few pics of dragonscale bracelets in various magazines, including an ad by Beadalon that ran for months in many of the beading magazine, and featured a pink and silver dragonscale bracelet. I was determined to teach myself this weave, and chose a complex palette designed to mimic the oceany colors in a coral reef (I used to scuba dive a lot, back when I had a real job, and wasn't a starving artist!) I finished this bracelet about a year and a half ago, and it remains one of my favorite creations. It's made with all 18g rings, and is soft, flexible, and slinky. The colors I chose make it hard to see that one ring is smaller, and sits inside its larger counterpart.

About a year later, I found time to get back to dragonscale, this time mixing 16g sterling silver rings and 16g square copper rings (the wire used for the rings was square). It is easier to tell from this 2-color combination that the smaller, copper ring is nestled inside the larger, sterling silver ring.


This bracelet was extra challenging because it took more hand strength to close the 16g rings. The bracelet is also denser, and much less flexible, because the AR (aspect ratio) has been markedly decreased by the larger gauge wire AND the fact that half the rings are square.

It is really easy to see from this picture why this weave is called Dragonscale - don't the overlapping silver rings remind you of scales on a reptile's skin?

I finished my third dragonscale variation earlier this week:

This one uses all 20g rings, and the slinky flexibility I love about dragonscale is back! I think you can see that the smaller, blue ring sits inside the larger, sterling silver ring. If you are planning to learn dragonscale, take my advice and choose 2 contrasting colors for your first attempt, so that you can easily see which ring goes where!

I wanted to show you some photos I took of the 3 bracelets, trying to demonstrate this flexibility I keep mentioning, as well as some other fun facts about working with different gauges of wire in chainmaille.

Here are my 3 dragonscale bracelets together:

The bottom bracelet (the blue and green 18g dragonscale) is 7 rings wide.
The copper and silver 16g bracelet is 5 rings wide.
The blue and silver 20 g bracelet is 5 rings wide.

Note the marked difference in width between the copper/silver bracelet and the blue/silver bracelet, even though they are the same number of rings wide: this difference is because the 20g jump rings are so much smaller than the 16g ones.

Here is another series of photos, showing the 3 bracelets fully extended, and then fully compressed, to show how much flexibility is inherent in this pattern:


Fully extended, this bracelet (excluding the clasp) is nearly 6.5 inches long.

Compressed, it is only 3 inches long, meaning over half the length of the bracelet can be swallowed up by the open nature of this intricate weave!



Fully extended, this 20g dragonscale bracelet (excluding the clasp) is 7 inches long.

When compressed, this dragonscale bracelet is only 5-3/4 inches long.




When extended, this dragonscale bracelet is 8 inches long.

Compressed, this dragonscale only loses about 1-1/4 inches of length. This loss of flexibility is primarily due to the square wire used for the copper rings, although the heavier gauge wire is also playing a role. In order to achieve the flexibility I have in the other 2 bracelets, I would have had to make both the sterling and the copper rings in this bracelet much, much larger.
As you can probably imagine, this dense 16 gauge dragonscale bracelet is also quite heavy, and because of the dense nature of the weave, it retains a rounded cuff-like shape when worn, which I actually think is pretty cool. It definitely makes a statement!
That's probably way more than you ever wanted to know about dragonscale, and chainmaille in general. Sorry - I tend to geek out a little bit about it!

5 comments:

Halinka said...

Hi:-)
I can say You've enchanted me fully withall those bracelets.I am more and more impressed by those all small metal rings,composed and netted into incredible jewelry.
I love the way of connecting them,I love the colors.For me, these are First Class jewelry examples.
Hugs-Halinka-

Halinka said...

Hi:-)
I can say: You've impressed me fully with all those bracelet.It's incredible,how such small,metal elements,like those colorful circles can be joined together and composed into purely First Class jewelry.I love the compositions,I love the colors-These are real piecies of Art.
Hugs-Halinka-

Halinka said...

First time,I wasn't sure if the comment was accepted.There had been a some kind of break on Blogger.
That's why You have got two comments from me,upon the bracelets:-)
You can remove one,if You wish:-)
Greets-Halinka-

Sweet Freedom said...

No worries, Halinka! I'm used to the vagaries of Blogger. Thanks for visiting!

Ovo said...

What internal diameters did you use on the on the silver and copper dragonscale?