Cut-Offs - Bad quality can equal good style!

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This cute little thing is made from a weave called Half Persian. I can whip one of these out in about ten minutes. Made with rubber rings, it's a perfectly simple bracelet that can be dressed up or down.

What makes this bracelet different from others made of this weave is the supplies. And the explanation begins with one of my personal policies.

Sometimes rings are bad quality. It happens. The particular batch of turquoise 16g 1/4 rings I got last was full of sub-standard rings. As you can see, the coloring isn't consistent. It's blotchy, and lighter or darker on some rings.

I make a point of not using rings like these in my pieces. I also don't use rings that get scratched up by my pliers, because that happens too.

Of course, due to the bad batch, I collected quite a few "unusable" turquoise rings. It seemed a shame to let them all go to waste. So here they are! I think it adds a touch of something different to the bracelet.

You can find more pictures on the etsy listing. And no, that is not a real egg, it's some kind of frosted glass.

Friday Finds - puterinoor

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This week I'm featuring etsy artist puterinoor. She'll always have a place in my heart since she was the first etsian to favorite my shop. But how could I not favorite her back? Her paintings and drawings are absolutely gorgeous! I just love the one shown here - I've always had a thing for mermaids.

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Wow, it has been a crazy week! Job interviews, babysitting schedules, class schedules, auditions, and seeing some people for the first time in a long while. I'm rather exhausted, emotionally and physically, so apologies for lack of substance.

I'm out of finished items to post on etsy, due to low/no supplies. But, I finally have what I need to make an order, so I'll be doing it in the next few days, and this time I mean it!

And once I get my supplies... oh, the things I will make.

~~Jen

Roses/Violets

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One of my favorite things to do with chainmaille is coming up with creative new patterns for Japanese 2 in 12. The weave is already quite versatile, since it's double-sided. I just love things that you can wear multiple ways!

Because of the hexagonal layout of this weave, you can make just about any shape. One day I decided to do some nice flowers. I could sort of have two colors, because of the reversibility, but the metal rings have to go with both sides. I decided on red and blue for the rubber, having purple as a compromise for the metal.

I also decided to add yellow and silver centers, and green connectors, like stems. I'm very happy with the way this bracelet turned out, I think it's adorable!

You can find the bracelet on etsy here. Apologies for the not-so-excellent photos, they were taken pre-light box.

~~Jen

New and improved!

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I got a new layout! Honest opinions?
Sadly, I lost my flag counter stats...

TGIF

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Like so many others, I've decided to designate Fridays my day for sharing some of the fabulous artists I've found on etsy. Here's one I discovered just the other day and fell immediately in love with. It's called Lovechild Boudoir.



This store has some absolutely gorgeous fashions, drawing inspiration from Steampunk, Victorian, pin-up, and lingerie. Here's my absolute favorite, I've been dreaming about jackets like this for years. Until now, I couldn't quite exactly find what I wanted, but this is it. Now I just need to save up for it...



~~Jen

Knots... I'm gonna try not to make puns

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I let my mom take me to the bookstore, which I really shouldn't do again. Too much temptation, I can't afford a book spree right now. Anyway, one of the books I allowed myself to get is called Decorative Knot Craft. It's Korean knotting. Some of the knots are so gorgeous! I had been looking for some sort of macrame book, as a fidgety alternative to chainmaille. (At least until I get my maille rings. I'm going to try and order today. I need to figure something out first.) And if I can master some of the knots, I can combine it with chainmaille. Anything that'll set you apart from other artisans helps sales. I have some great visions in my head... Now we'll just see if I continue being interested in it. I've tried a few, they're fun!

~~Jen

Diamondweave

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Today I'm going to talk about the weave I invented - that's right, I came up with this beauty on my own! Someone else may have done something similar, but I didn't follow any pattern.

As you can see from the title, I call this weave Diamondweave. It looks like jewels to me.

It started out as me experimenting. I was making some orbitals, using rubber rings. It looked a bit boring to me, not to mention the rings kept wiggling out of place. I hate unstable weaves. So I added the rings that are gold in this bracelet. It was still a bit unstable, so I added the orange rings.

It was a lot easier to come up with a weave than I thought it would be. I imagine the principal applies to most craft mediums - just experiment! Start with something simple, and just add to it. I'm very happy with the way the weave came out. And I love this picture - I have a thing for roses.

In bloggier news, I'll be cutting down a bit. New posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

~~Jen

Tea time

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You probably don't know this about me, but I'm a certified herbalist. A year or two ago, while I was working at an herb store, my boss asked me to make a tea for women's health. Actually, she originally asked me to make two, one for menopause, and one for PMS, but as I was coming up with the list of herbs, it ended up being the same, so I figured I'd combine the two.

The tea was a smashing success - my mother swears by it. It's a great tea, if I do say so myself. It helps balance all the hormones responsible for all the problems we girls deal with - cramps, irritability, hot flashes, fatigue, the list goes on and on. Many of the ingredients are very good for relaxation and balancing emotions, which never hurts, either, and makes it equally beneficial for men. I need a cup of this tea today, and I figure someone else out there does too, so here's the recipe. You should be able to find these ingredients at a local health food or herb store:

Black Cohosh
Blessed Thistle
Chamomile
Damiana
Dong Quai
Passionflower
Red Raspberry Leaf

Some of the herbs contain natural estrogen, which some women should not take. Ask your doctor if you are unsure.

Instructions for one cup of tea: Mix together your herbs in equal parts. Take one tablespoon of the mixture, and steep it in a cup of water for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the herbs, and enjoy! Some people love the taste of the tea, but if you find it bitter, try some honey or maple syrup.

My mom thinks I should sell herbal teas on etsy. Would you buy this?

~~Jen

Not your average light box

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If any of you have been following me on twitter, you'll know that I've been experimenting with light boxes. I looked at some of the DIY light box tutorials from the etsy forums, and decided I wanted to make something a little sturdier, if for no other reason than the cats would shred a cardboard light box in minutes. I heard someone mention (they didn't link to a tutorial) a PVC pipe light box, which sounded good to me. And I know my dad has experience working with PVC pipe, for his fishtank. (It's a 1000 gallon tank - but that's a story for another time.) So I decided to ask him for his help. He's also an engineer (born problem-solver) and knows a lot about photography.

So we bought some supplies at a hardware store - clamp lights, daylight bulbs, the PVC pipe, and the little PVC fittings (for corners and intersections). Dad showed me to use the PVC cutter, and we got to cutting. Then we started putting the pieces together. At this point it became apparent that we had different concepts in our heads. I was picturing a PVC cube draped with white fabric. He was picturing something close to a cube, but with no fabric. Now, all the tutorials I had seen had fabric or tissue/tracing paper over the sides, in front of the lights. But I actually found (and I shouldn't have been surprised) that my dad was right - it was better without the fabric in front of the lamps. We tried covering the lamps with tissue paper, and that did nothing to diffuse the shadows, it only lost us some light.

Anyway, I ended up with something that worked quite well. Here's a picture of the setup, if you're having trouble imagining it. And a few pictures from the shoot - I'm quite happy with them!

My masterpiece!

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This gorgeous piece was my first attempt at an inlay. I had seen chainmaille inlays before, and I discovered a program that allows you to easily plot out inlays for a few different weaves. I know now that the program's advanced enough so you can transform any image into the weave grid, but when I made this, I hadn't figured that out yet. So the I painted the weave grid link by link, according to a free cross-stitch pattern I found online. (I didn't put that time into the labor cost, of course.)

Then I set about the daunting task of constructing the inlay. As you can probably guess, it took a very long time.

About three quarters of the way through, I realized I wouldn't have enough black rings! Everything that you see here in brown was originally black. So I went back and replaced those black rings with the brown ones you see. (Again, I didn't put that time into the labor cost.) This was my least favorite part. Anyone who makes things can tell you, it makes you feel sad to have to undo something you spent time doing.

Once the inlay was finished, I had to decide what to do with it! I finally chose to make it into a purse. So I made the back panel, connected them, and added a strap. And here it is! I'm very proud of this purse, and I always get the most compliments on it.

To see more pics, and to buy, if you're interested, check out the purse's etsy listing.

Incredible papercrafting

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Today I thought I'd tell you about one of the most amazing artists I've ever seen. His name is Peter Callesen. His works are made of one sheet of paper each. You may find this hard to believe at first, I know I did, but if you keep looking, you may find it possible. The amount of detail work that Callesen puts into his art just boggles my mind. I've done some simple papercutting, and it requires a great deal of patience and skill to get it right. As for the paper sculpting... I can't even imagine the proccess that creates such perfect works.

And that's just Callesen's work on paper. If you go to his website, there's also information on some of the live performances he's done, most of which are sad, all of which are meaningful. It's definitely worth taking a look around his website. You have to see it to believe it. This man is a true artist.

~~Jen

Do you like steampunk?

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Then check out this giveaway! There are some truly fabulous steampunk pieces as prizes. That's right, 7 prizes to win! The picture is the prize I most hope to win. I just love skirts like that! (I've made two for myself, but this one is lovely!)

I believe I shall call it Harvest Moon

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Here's that Halloween necklace I was talking about. I think it came out really nice.

The moon is beautiful, isn't it? I bought a package of six of them. I don't remember the exact price, but it was under two dollars. Nice! I attached some chainmaille "Flowers" to it - all orange, all black, and mixed.

The chain is a variation on European 4 in 1. I came up with it on my own, but I'd be very surprised if it's never been done. (Construction techniques coming up, feel free to skip if you're not a mailler.) What I did was mix ring sizes - 18 gauge 1/4 ID (Inner Diameter) paired with 16 gauge 5/16 ID. The outside edges are all 18g 1/4 in orange. The middle row alternates between 18g 1/4 in black and 16g 5/16 in orange. This forms little orange squares with black in the middle, separated by larger orange rings. And then I added some black rings dangling from the center of the boxes - before I did, it was looking a bit bland, and the black was being overwhelmed. I think it looks nice like this, though.

I wanted to post this on my etsy today, but then I realized I hadn't priced it. Pricing is definitely my least favorite part of chainmaille. I'm just enough of a perfectionist to insist that it be done ridiculously specifically. That means weighing, counting rings, weighing, subtracting, possibly counting again, weighing again... It's a pain. I think today I'll post a bracelet I call Very Berry on etsy, instead.

~~Jen

Various bloggery

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I'm trying to decide just how much money I should spend on supplies. I have birthday money, and some graduation money. Of course, though, that's not nearly enough to get everything I'd like. There's no way I can afford everything right now. (For one thing, there's money I still need to pay back.) But Ring Lord gives good bulk discounts... So I'm in a quandary.

I keep promising myself I'm going to take some good pictures of my jewelry. I really realized the value of high quality pictures when I posted an item to etsy that had really good ones. Within about 4 minutes I had 16 views! (Which is actually more than I've gotten on some items several days old...) So it definitely is true what the experts say - good photos matter. But you know how it is, every day there's an excuse. Well, if the lighting is good outside, tomorrow for real.

I started a nice Halloween themed necklace yesterday. The question is if I have enough black and orange rings left to finish it. If I do, then I'll probably finish it tonight and post pictures. Is it too early to put Halloween things up for sale? If so, I have another recently finished necklace I quite like...

~~Jen

Quilts!

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Today my mom and I went to the Lowell Quilt Festival. Well, the part of it at the Tsongas Arena. It was great! The quilts were so amazing, it was like visiting an art show. Well, I suppose it was visiting an art show. There's no question that there were some masterpieces there. Here are some pictures of my favorites:


I could barely believe some of these were quilts. The detail is incredible.

Oh, and I tried one of those freehand quilting machines. My mom snuck a picture of me while I was using it:


I'd definitely recommend going tomorrow if you're in the area! It was a lot of fun.

~~Jen

Sneak Preview! - Dragonscale - Pink and Turquoise

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Here's a preview of things to come in my etsy store.

This weave is called Dragonscale. I both love and hate this weave. I love love love the look of it - the one color almost hidden, but visible at some angles, behind the other color. I like putting bright colors (like the pink shown here, which is more of a hot pink than you see here - I know, my photos need work, but I wanted to share this piece) as the small, hidden rings. It really makes the bracelet pop.

And the hate? Well, this weave is SUCH a pain in the neck! This is one I really have to wrestle to get done. Once it's finished, if you wiggle it about it loosens up, but when I'm making it, it is so stiff! Because of this, this weave has the highest rate of scratched rings. (When you scrape anodized aluminum with pliers, the color is scratched off. This doesn't happen with regular wear, and of course I remove all scratched rings from my pieces before finishing them!) This weave is lucky I like the way it looks, or I would never make it.

I also love this color combo - so bright!

Don't forget, I post a new item on my etsy every day.

~~Jen

Oh no! This is why you should test your pieces before selling!

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Earlier today I made a pair of new anklets. They were dripping with bells. I designed them with dancing in mind, and I'm keeping this set for myself. I contra dance on Thursday nights, and I thought the bells would be fun. They were... until the tiny silver rings connecting the clasp broke! Luckily I didn't lose the clasp. Even more luckily, I have not sold anyone a piece using the same crappy rings!

I'll have to fix everything I made using them. An anklet that falls apart after one wear? That would be an awful reflection on my little baby business. I will never use those rings again! If I need tiny rings, from now on it's steel. One or two steel rings won't affect color rub-off or weight, and I know (from the bracelet and choker I wear 24/7 as advertisement) they hold up. Anyway, I'm so glad I caught this before putting substandard jewelry out there. And I hope those of you in the blogosphere won't hold it against me. I swear I would have refunded money or fixed the item (free shipping back and forth) if somebody had already received it!

Can you tell this bothers me? XD

~~Jen

Chainmaille FAQ

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Today I'm posting some common questions I get asked about chainmaille, and their answers. Please feel free to comment with your own questions, I'll answer them too!

How do you do that?
Well, each weave (or pattern) has different steps, of course. For each one, though, I open some rings, close some more, and weave them together. Sometimes it's more like wrestling than weaving.

How long does it take?
Again, each weave is different. All bracelets take under an hour, most under half an hour. Necklaces take longer, of course, especially as I tend to experiment more with them. There's a lot of trial and error.

You must be really patient to do that!
Not at all! I'm very impatient with most things. But I'm a born fidgeter. I do maille while I watch TV or movies, or listen to music. If I'm allowed, I do it during classes. When I act in plays, I'll make maille on my down-time.

What is it made out of?
I prefer to work with aluminum. It is easier to bend than steel, which makes it work up faster. Aluminum is also a very light metal, making it perfect for jewelry. Steel chainmaille earrings can hurt! Steel can also leave a gray or black residue on the skin. The coloring is an anodization, which is a thin coating on top of the aluminum. I also work with rubber rings, which can only be used in some weaves. Rubber is even lighter than aluminum, and adds stretch, so I can make bracelets without clasps.

Where do you get your supplies?
I buy my rings and pliers from www.theringlord.com and I get findings (clasps, earhooks, etc.) from various places. Some from bead stores, some from sellers on www.etsy.com

Where did you learn to do this?
A friend of mine taught me how to do European 4 in 1, Spiral, and Byzantine. The rest I learned online. My favorite sites for learning new weaves are www.cgmaille.com and www.mailleartisans.org, which has a lot of other great maille resources.

What can you make?
I mostly make jewelry, but just about anything can be made out of chainmaille. I've made a purse, a basket, a belt, a skirt... the possibilities are endless!


That's all I can think of now, but like I said, feel free to ask more!
~~Jen

Macaw - Persian Dragonscale - Turquoise and Gold

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For my first blog post, I've decided to write about this bracelet I made.

This chainmaille weave's called Persian Dragonscale. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it, and I loved it more when I tried making it! It's hard to explain why you like using a certain weave. In this case, I think I know. This weave is a combo of European 4-1 and Half Persian, which are both very simple weaves. But when they come together... I just think it's beautiful!

This bracelet didn't come out at all like I hoped. When I was planning the design, I thought it would look nice in stripes, which would be opposite colors on either side. One side would be gold, turquoise, gold, turquoise, gold, and vice versa. As it turned out, the only clear stripes are the border. (Which are opposite colors on opposite sides.) Anyway, I think it came out well, if not how I intended it.

The day I titled this piece I had just come back from the zoo. Some of the macaws we saw were gorgeous, with almost exactly these colors.

You can find this bracelet here on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=28601749

Hope I didn't babble too much! I do that a lot about things I like.

~~Jen