Quiet day

I’m having a quiet day today, so I shall mostly be posting pictures. Should teach me to blog on the correct day, really, but me? Learn? Nah.

So that was my week. 🙂

Earrings and Red Bull

Hmm, a lot of my Sunday updates seem to be happening on Monday mornings lately…

So what have I been up to for the past two weeks? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been making new designs, with new and old supplies; I’ve been writing new content for my website, and pondering other changes; and between all the work I’ve had life happen as well! As it does.

I ordered in some colour jump rings to make new and exciting chainmaille. I got three bags of colour mixes, which I realised when I got them was less useful than I had imagined. There isn’t enough of each colour to make bracelets! However, upon review, this may be a good thing. My Etsy shop currently has about three times as many bracelets as necklaces, and an even more skewed ratio for earrings. So I’ve been making earrings.

Earrings on a stand

Colourful!

At the time of posting, I have only made one pair available on Etsy. Hopefully I’ll be able to put the rest up for sale either today or tomorrow. For now, you can go to the Shop to get this pair:

Red chainmaille earrings on a stand

Rather pleased with these.

Only one pair available though!

I’ve also been pondering my website. It’s forever a work in progress, and I’ve been writing new content for it. Coming soon will be a new About page and a more comprehensive FAQ. I’ll also be taking new pictures for the Gallery, since I have a lightbox now and all.

I had my friend look over some of the content, and she made some excellent edits. She has a way with words that I do not, and she didn’t mind going through it at all. I’m lucky to know her. 🙂 (For many reasons. But this included.)

So that will be coming soon. With “soon” being one of those relative, means-nothing-really kind of words.

As far as life goes, the most exciting thing that happened this week was a promotion for Red Bull which saw us receive four free cans. No, my life doesn’t get much more exciting than that. The Kitty also seemed to quite like it.

Cat sniffing a box of Red Bull cans

So exciting!

And that’s about it, really. Now I must go and make sure said Kitty doesn’t steal my beads!

A beginner’s guide to chainmaille – part 2

So last week I went on and on about boring stuff. I know. I know. But it is all important, unfortunately. Without knowing what AR is, you won’t understand how weaves work together.

This week, I want to show you the very simplest of chainmaille – the 2-in-1 and 4-in-2 chains.

Picture of 2 in 1 chain

2-in-1 chain

The 2-in-1 chain is literally just a row of rings attached to each other. It’s a good way of starting off, so you can get used to opening and closing the rings, holding the pliers, holding the piece you’re working on, and doing three things at once. Once you’ve made a 2-in-1 chain that looks decent enough, you can go on to the 4-in-2 chain.

Picture of 4 in 2 chain

4-in-2 chain

The 4-in-2 chain is used as a basis of a few weaves. Especially when speed-weaving (which means finding ways of putting rings together that doesn’t involve opening and closing every single ring), these chains can be useful.

If you have your 2-in-1 chain handy, all you do is double the rings. Easy peasy, right?

Once you’ve mastered these, you can start looking at more complicated weaves. The Byzantine one I posted a picture of last week is a good place to start. You can go looking for a tutorial of your own, or you can wait until I post one here. 😉

I also want to mention a few things about materials, while I still (hopefully) have your attention (assuming you’re not already caught up in trying to bend rings backwards to make Byzantine).

A lot of my designs are made with thin iron rings. Iron is a sturdy material, easy to work with but quite heavy. It works well when the rings are as thin as they are, but for bigger things there are other choices. Steel has the same features – very strong, sturdy, won’t let you down but is also very heavy.

One of the ring types I see used a lot is aluminium. Aluminium usually comes in two forms in chainmaille – Bright Aluminium (BA) and Anodised Aluminium (AA). BA is metal coloured. Aluminium coloured. Y’know. Looks like the metal it is. AA come in all the colours of the rainbow, but they’re relatively easy to scratch off so be careful with your pliers. Aluminium is very, very light. Almost like plastic. But it stands up very well and it’s good to work with. I’d probably recommend it to a beginner. And the colours are fun!

Picture of anodised aluminium rings

Anodised aluminium

Apart from steel and aluminium, you can get rings in titanium, niobium, sterling silver etc. It all depends on what you’re using them for, how much you can afford to pay, how much you’re hoping to sell the finished product for (if indeed you are planning on selling it) and if it needs to be hypo-allergenic.

It’s also, of course, possible to make your own rings, but I wouldn’t recommend that to someone just starting out. Personally, I’m too lazy. I figure there are already people out there who make rings ready to use, I might as well save myself the trouble. It would give you more control, though, and could be something to think about if you decide you’re not getting exactly what you want from pre-made rings.

I hope some of this has been helpful, if not because you’re going to use it then maybe to give you some insight into all the things that are a part of making chainmaille. I will be posting some tutorials for common weaves over the next few weeks so you can see how things are made in detail.

A beginner’s guide to chainmaille

So you may have seen my pretty things and thought “I wanna make that!” Or maybe you’re just curious how it’s actually done. Either way, I can help!

If you want to start making chainmaille, the first thing you need is a pair of good pliers.

Pliers

Like these.

I personally use chain nose and bent nose pliers, but you’ll quickly find some that you like. Just make sure they have springs, because having to open them all the time while you’re trying to do four things at once gets really old.

Close-up of plier springs

These things.

Next you need rings. You can use normal jump rings if you want, or you can buy specially made chainmaille rings. Oftentimes the latter is the better choice, as they look better.

Different kinds of chainmaille rings

Different kinds of rings.

Chainmaille rings come in many different sizes and thicknesses. There are a few different concepts you need to learn if you want to follow patterns:

AR – Aspect Ratio – The relationship between the size of the ring and the thickness of the wire
ID – Inner Diameter – The size of the ring
AWG – American Wire Gauge – Thickness of wire
SWG – Standard Wire Gauge – Also thickness of wire, but done differently

I’d also really recommend committing to memory what ring sizes you prefer, in both millimetres and inches. (I’m still working on the inches part myself. As a Northern European I work in the metric system most easily.)

An example of rings labels

Example label from Purple Moon Beads

Now, AR. The aspect ratio of a ring is the inner diameter of the ring divided by the thickness of the wire. Yes, yes, I’m bringing maths into it. It’s actually important, because some weaves will only work with some ARs, and most weaves will have a range of ARs that look good. All weaves also have a minimum AR, below which there won’t be enough space to fit in rings.

The inner diameter is what’s important when it comes to the size of a ring, because that’s the space where you fit in other rings. It doesn’t really help you to know how big a ring is across if you can’t fit that last ring into the space you’re playing with, after all.

The AR is more important than the ID, simply because a larger ring with an AR of 3.5 will behave exactly the same as a smaller ring with the same AR. This way you can make e.g. a Byzantine weave that’s tiny or really big, and it will behave correctly in both sizes.

The chainmaille technique Byzantine

Byzantine weave.

The AWG and SWG are only important in relation to the ID. If you’re only taking one thing away from this, remember the AR instead.

There are two systems for the wire gauge because Americans like to be different, I guess. It’s only important because some metals are usually done in AWG while others are in SWG. If you have trouble, just convert it to mm instead. That’s what I do.

Showing wire gauges compared to millimetres

A handy guide.

I hope some of this has been helpful, and rest assured I’m not leaving you to fend for yourself there. I’ll be back next week with more Teachings of Chainmaille. 🙂

Part 2

Etsy School Part Deux

So I didn’t update last Sunday. I left the house at early o’clock to help my friend finish building his Magic the Gathering deck in preparation for a MtG tournament the same day. I was going to go home afterwards, but I followed him to the tournament like a puppy, and got caught up in the fun. I didn’t take part, but I watched loads of games and met tons of really lovely people. Maybe some time I will take part, but I’ll definitely go to watch again!

Later in the day we celebrated my friend’s, er, utter loss by going to the pub. So I was done for the day, and a blog post didn’t happen. Apologies.

Anyway. In the two weeks leading up to the Sunday of No Updates, I had two more weeks of Etsy Schooling happening. And I wanted to chronicle this, somewhat, because it really is interesting stuff.

The third week was SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is just as nonsensical as the “SEO” shortening, really. What it means is how to get found in search. Whether one is talking about the Etsy search or the big search engines like Google and Yahoo!, it’s useful to show up as high on the list as possible, preferably on the first page of results.

This is really difficult.

On Etsy, you have a little bit of help in the tags. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but if you scroll all the way down the page on an item’s description page, you can see a bunch of seemingly random words and phrases grouped together. Those are the tags for that item. Finding tags that are relevant yet different enough to show up in different searches can be a real challenge. But it’s still a great help to have them, because it means that if you put “chainmaille bracelet” in there and someone searches for “chainmaille bracelet” (which you should do, by the way, because chainmaille is awesome) then you’ll show up in that search.

Getting found by the big search engines is much more difficult. They don’t care about what tags you put in. They care about the text on the page. And you can’t just repeat “chainmaille bracelet” over and over again either, because Google doesn’t like that, and will remove you from search completely if they find out. No, for this you need “quality content”. If you ever find out what that is, let me know.

I’ve been amending a lot of my item descriptions because of this. I’ve been trying to describe the item while using keywords, while making sure it reads well, and my head hurts as a result. This stuff is hard.

Anyway, that’s a small introduction to SEO. I won’t bore you with it any longer.

The fourth week of the Etsy School was all about promotion. Heh, promotion. My worst subject. I’d probably get a D grade in it if we were in fact graded on it. Y’see, I try, but I’m just not a salesperson. I have a Facebook Page (which you should like), a Twitter account (which you should follow), Instagram, Pinterest and this blog (which you should all check in on now and then at the very least), but… *hopeless noise and flailing arms*

So I’ve decided to let it happen organically. I’m going to focus on Instagram (http://instagram.com/victoriaxsol) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/victoriaxsol) and try to post pictures and interesting things that people will actually care about. Rather than this Sell-Sell-SELL thing that promotion usually turns into.

I know my jewellery is good enough to sell, otherwise I wouldn’t be selling it. So I prefer to let people discover that on their own. (Go discover. 😉 ) I’m just going to use my channels to make people aware that it exists rather than try to push it down their throats. Now I just need to figure out how to use Facebook… Hmm…

(Sorry about the lack of pictures in this entry. Go to Instagram to see what I’ve been up to in glorious technicolour. 😀 )