Saturday, February 28, 2009

Contrasting Celebrity Bling Style at the Oscars

By on Saturday, February 28, 2009 2 Comments

I've just been looking through pictures of Hollywood celebrities at last weekend's Academy Awards ceremony. There were many clad in strapless gowns but surprisingly few jewelry pieces to set off the outfits. One example is Angelina Jolie who wore only earrings and a ring.

81st Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals 2009 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals

And then there was Amy Adams. She went with what was my favorite Oscar night jewelry - a colorful collar style necklace which really stood out and complimented her strapless gown. This is one woman who is not afraid of color!

I really think this necklace is inspirational especially for the accomplished beadworkers amongst you! However, if beadwork is not your forte, try stringing side drilled beads in tiers to form the collar. Check out my past post on this ancient Egyptian collar and you'll see what I mean!
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Chain Maille Jewelry Making Tips

By on Friday, February 27, 2009 5 Comments

I enjoy doing chain maille jewelry. I used to be a knitter so the rhythm of opening and closing the rings is as soothing as knitting and purling once were. But chain maille is not for everyone. Some may find it too repetitive or too difficult to see the spatial requirements of this type of jewelry making. Perhaps the tips shown here may make the difference between loving chain maille or abandoning it altogether.


You need broad nose pliers and the opposite side of bent nose pliers. You could use two broad nose pliers too if you have the extra. The width of these pliers will provide a better grip than chain nose pliers.

The size of the pliers also matters - all pliers are not created equally! You have to go with a smaller size - one that fits your hand comfortably. I use the red handled ones below for my left hand as my palm and fingers enclose it more easily than the bigger blue handled ones.

Stainless steel is corrosion resistant but there is a price to pay for that feature - the rings are hard to handle. If you are struggling with stainless steel rings which are the toughest to open and close properly, you may wish to use hardware store pliers with teeth just to get the grip.

Some people also like using the jump ring ring (shown at left) because you only need one pair of pliers. The slots in the jump ring ring helps keep the ring still as it is being opened or closed. The jump ring ring works best if the jump ring metal used is soft, not too thick and the jump rings are not too small.

I personally prefer the two pliers method as I find the force of opening and closing thicker gauge rings soon makes my left forefinger sore.


Many chain maille weaves are not that difficult once you get going but they are often a pain to start. The best way is to use wire ties, scrap wire, large ring or safety pin on the beginning pairs of rings as shown below left for the Byzantine chain. The ties allow you to grip the first crucial rings properly into position. For some weaves like the Full Persian, I use two ties, one for each of the two starting pairs so I can position them properly before commencing the weave (see link below).

One clever way to weave is to hang several rings on a long length of scrap wire. Druid Queen came up with the wire idea for her Half Persian 3 in 1 and the Half Persian 4 in 1 tutorials. Alternatively you can try azul_chromis' nifty yarn trick for starting and doing the Half Persian 4 in 1.


Most chain maille artisans soon learn to pre-close (or even pre-open) a number of rings before starting so they are all ready for use.

If you can train yourself to do it, don't put down a working Byzantine chain or your tools. Instead, palm the left hand broad nose pliers (that's why you you want smaller pliers) whilst you are hooking on a jump ring (below left). Similarly, your left hand fingers hold on to the chain whilst you are opening or closing rings using both tools (below right).

For the European weaves, the opposite is true. It helps to put them down at least in the beginning until you are accomplished. For the European 4 in 1, for example, you can make up groups of 4 rings on linking rings (dark brown)and then join them up with more linking rings. Or if you are not that agile with the rings, then just prepare 2 rings on a linking ring and join to the main chain.

More Chain Maille Posts:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Byzantine and Box Chain Maille Tutorials

By on Thursday, February 26, 2009 25 Comments

Of all the chain maille weaves, the Byzantine or birdcage is perhaps one of the most attractive for jewelry. It looks intricate but is actually one of the easiest to learn and there are many lovely variations. It's my favorite weave.

You can mix metals or use colored metal for more visual interest as can be seen with this copper accented bracelet I made.

byzantine chain maille braceletOther options include adding beads to byzantine as you can see with the crackle beads on the left.

If you like to learn how, here are the 8 steps needed to form the basic Byzantine which you then repeat to lengthen the chain. Some people use insanely small rings but my recommendation is to use 18G 5/32" rings if you are just beginning.

1. Close two rings and attach a wire tie through both of them. The wire tie helps you grip better - trust me. Link two more pairs of rings.

2. Hold the first pair and "peel" back the third pair.

3. Those two peeled back rings will be raised up. To do so, first turn the chain so you look directly at the direction where I am pointing the awl (below left).

4. The picture, below right, shows these two rings now raised up with a space below them. The topmost rings are now splayed sideways.

5. Now open a ring and hook through that space.

6. Repeat with the second ring.

7. Attach two more pairs of rings (below left) which now brings you back to step 1.

8. Do the peeling back, lifting and hooking steps above and voila! A byzantine!

Still confused? It might help some to see the byzantine taught differently, so check this video out. The demo uses ultra large rings so you can easily see the crucial peeling back and hooking up of the rings.

To add beads as shown in the above bracelet, add pairs of rings as side extensions.  Then just feed beading wire and beads through those rings. Attach the beading wires to each end of the bracelet with crimp beads.

9. Box chain, Queen's chain or Inca Puno Chain begins like a Byzantine. Indeed, I sometimes refer to it as half a Byzantine! When you get to step 8 above, stop at the second pair of rings. Do the peel back and add two rings. Repeat.

The result is a slinky like chain. It is unisex in style. Use it as a plain chain or jazz it up with different metals and pendants as I did on the left. I like chunky chain maille so I use 18G 3/16" rings for the box chain.

One book I can recommend is Scott David Plumlee's Handcrafting Chain and Bead Jewelry: Techniques for Creating Dimensional Necklaces and Bracelets. He is a Byzantine whiz and his bead embellishments are inspirational! The byzantine is the main weave used although he also shows the box chain.

The author mentions coming across a South American blacksmith making the box chain without any pliers - just his bare hands! The Spanish term Inca Puno for this weave means "clenched fist" so each locking section represents the clenched fist of an Inca warrior. Plumlee explains it's traditionally awarded to courageous young men of the tribe.

Beader Designs #: 472 -473

Related Post
Chain Maille : Ancient and Modern Uses

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Black Beaded Necklace and Earrings

By on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4 Comments

Some people find black jewelry too dark and perhaps uninteresting. But it can be brightened by introducing other elements like Laura did with her glass bead necklace and earring set.

The long cigar shaped beads were an unremitting black so she interspersed them with half black and clear round crackle beads, stripped grey and black oval beads and one round faceted focal bead. Less obvious are the silver corrugated beads she added. What she accomplished was a black jewelry set made considerably more interesting with the silver and grey highlights and yet stayed close to the dark colour she prefers.

Beader Design #: 471
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Killer Engagement Rings

By on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7 Comments

Knuckle Duster Rings
Part 2 of 2

We're still in February, the month of romance. So what could be more appropriate than the Killer Engagement Ring? It is perhaps a ring for self-defense along the lines of "If I can't be there to protect you....!" The diamond is mounted upside down with the table (top flat part) below and the sharp point exposed. A wicked knuckle-duster ring indeed. The designer is Vancouver raised Tobias Wong who now designs in New York City.

It could also be used to scratch little love notes on glass. People used to like doing that centuries ago. Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was fond of writing with a diamond on glass windows.

Why stop at engagment rings? The woman's ring of this unusual square matching set of 14K gold wedding rings by Alex and Chloe sports not one but three inverted white diamonds! The "Holding You Forever" rings were designed for Revolved Clothing (West Hollywood) and went on sale last month. The woman's ring costs $1895 whilst the man's ring is $1805.

Via and Via
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Macho Knuckle Duster rings

By on Monday, February 23, 2009 2 Comments

Knuckle Duster Rings
Part 1 of 2

Ken Goldman, a product designer from Israel makes unique jewelry. He says he "uses jewelry as a vehicle for social commentary". What comes out of his fertile mind is functional jewelry like his Ring Me Up ring where you can keep all your receipts "handy"!

His sense of humor also extends to his knuckle duster rings like the one he calls the Knuckle Brush below. For tough guys who want to preserve their masculine image when tackling nasty stains and dirt around the house!

The Tenderizer Ring was made from - you guessed it- a never used schnitzel tenderizing hammer! You can't get any more macho than this. The ring has evolved and is now available in sterling silver. For more info, email Ken Goldman at

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunburst Vintage Brass Earrings, Sun Symbols and Newgrange

By on Sunday, February 22, 2009 4 Comments

Paula really liked the vintage sunburst earrings I had on my rack so she had a go at creating her own version. I had used an orangish red glass pearl in mine. Paula decided on orange crackle beads which really does suggest an inferno if you look into the beads! The vivid color proved a good contrast and brightened up what is a subdued metal.

There are many forms of solar symbols of which rayed versions like the one above are still popular today. Rayed depictions of the sun appear on several national flags. One of the earliest symbols is a simple dot within a circle which in Egyptian hieroglyphics meant "Ra" or sun.
The triskelion or triskele is another symbol which may be a sun symbol - the design may interest and challenge wire artisans! It is depicted as three interlocked spirals as shown or as a spiral of three bent human legs.

A related symbol is the ancient Celtic triple spiral which was found in a Neolithic tomb at Newgrange in Ireland. This symbol symbolised the sun, the afterlife and reincarnation.

Newgrange is an amazing site for it is more than just a tomb. The passage and chamber is illuminated by the winter solstice sun. At sunrise on December 21, the shortest day of the year, a thin ray of sunlight starts to penetrate the tomb from the roofbox which was designed to catch the beam (see video). For about 14-17 minutes, around 9 am, the entire chamber is lit. This site was built more than 5,000 years ago - 500 years before the Great Pyramids. Newgrange also predates Stonehenge by 1,ooo years!!
Some believe the triple spiral is a symbol of pregnancy, each spiral representing a trimester as the sun describes a spiral in its movements every three months. The three spirals were also drawn in one continuous line which suggest rebirth and reincarnation.

The spirals can be seen on the stone in front of the entrance in the photo by Maxrush (below left). The roof box is the rectangular hole at the top of the entrance. The photo on the right by Jimmyharris shows the entire tomb.

Beader Design #: 470 ______________________________ Original Post by THE BEADING GEM Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips