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advice for jewelry project
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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:21 pm
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It's been 5 years since my last post. ouch. time flies. I'm here to share with you guys a project I'm working on, as well as ask for any advice or input. I practically wrote a book, so I'm gonna go ahead and boldface my questions/requests.

anyway, here's the backstory.

I've been drawn back into the craft by a new project: I'm looking to make a necklace for my girlfriend for our anniversary in january (if we're still together, hopefully...if it doesn't work out, it will be a worthwhile endeavor anyway).

I'm not taking this project lightly. I'm planning it out 6 months in advance because I know it will take a LOT of time and effort. This isn't one of those "here, I made you a HP 3-1 necklace made from 14G 3/8" galvy" kind of deals. I want this piece to seriously compete with any machine made necklace that might cost much more. In short, I want it to be impressive without even mentioning the fact that I made it by hand.

The chain part will be the hardest as well as take by far the most time. I'm looking to emulate a LIGHT silver chain you might find from a manufacturer, while retaining the uniqueness and complexity of maille. This introduces a serious dilemma, the answer to which I haven't quite yet figured out: chainmail, by definition, is bulky and heavy. The only exception to this rule would be 2-1. But the bottom line is that I need to find a way to make a chain that doesn't detract attention from the sapphire on the pendant. I'd like it to be a cool complex weave, but that's a second priority.

I originally wanted to go with JPL, and as such foolishly ordered way too much 22g 5/64" silver from TRL. I haven't even received it yet, but I know already that it would probably be more suited to a bracelet design rather than a necklace - it's simply too bulky. However, I had a good idea...why not use captive 2-1? (http://mailleartisans.org/weaves/weavedisplay.php?key=676) As improbable as it might be, I seem to have invented the weave, so it would be a nice touch. It's got a great amount of complexity and I really like the weave's aesthetics to begin with.

Of course, the problem is precisely that it IS complex. This means it's gonna still be pretty darn bulky. My plan is to use the smallest possible rings that could work (that are available from TRL)...22G 3/32" and 24G 1/16". I have a sneaking suspicion that my previously mentioned 22G 5/64" might work for the big rings, but regardless I ordered the minimal .2oz from TRL so that I can experiment before going all in with the project. It will be without a doubt the smallest rings I have ever worked with, and most likely one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced (aside from learning HP 4-1 for the first time Rolling Eyes )

To be honest, I'm almost considering that those sizes may still be too big...honestly, the finer and more intricate the better. If I decide to go even smaller, I'm faced with yet another dilemma: TRL only goes down to 24G 1/16". My thought is to get ahold of 26g wire and ask TRL if they can help me coil and cut the wire to specs. The site says they can do any diameter, but says nothing about wire gauge. Either way, I'll cross that bridge when I get there. I'm almost thinking that if it gets to that point, I might as well drop some dough and buy 24k gold wire for that awesome two-tone effect. With the smaller (and less numerous) rings on the inside, it would be a relatively cheap use of gold as well as preventing it from being too gaudy. (I won't do 10k gold like TRL suggests. If I go gold, I'm going all the way.) *Any thoughts? I wonder if there are any other distributors of rings out there.* TRL seems to be an all-purpose site, not specifically designed for jewelry.

One of the issues of building this small is that it will be quite delicate...captive 2-1 chain has a lot of opportunity to use pre-closed rings though. *Does anyone know if are any sources of preclosed rings (silver or gold) in these sizes?* Soldered is fine, although I can imagine it wouldn't be easy by ANY means.

The last part is the pendant. I'm not entirely sure what to do here. She loves sapphires so I definitely want that to be the centerpoint of the piece. I'm almost leaning on shelling out the money for a nicely set sapphire from the internet/a jewelry store. I remember encasing small marbles in a E4-1 style enclosure several years back, but I fear that it would cover up the gem too much...and the design seems kind of cheesy from what I can remember. I could use rings with a higher AR to increase the visual gap between links, but then the delicacy would become a HUGE problem - returning me to the question about pre-closed or soldered rings. *If anyone has any alternative ideas about how to do this, let me know! Non-spherical shapes welcome.* I'd love to keep the whole project hand-made, but if I can't find an aesthetically pleasing solution I'm not gonna forge ahead in the sake of my art...I'll just save the time and effort and buy the darned pendant.

*Additionally, if you have any other ideas about what weave to use for the chain, let me know.* You'd have to make a pretty compelling argument, because I love the weave and it'd be awesome for bragging rights to claim that i invented the weave (although sometimes I wonder whether I "invented" it per se, or if I just submitted it before anyone else).

One final note: as I mentioned before, I ordered wayy too much 22G 5/64" silver rings...an ounce to be exact. TRL lists the AR at 3.1, which seems to be near the upper limit of JPL (the weave for which the order was intended). Like I said before, I could do a nice bracelet with that...but not sure what else? Since the AR is pretty low, it's a great opportunity for me to try out some of those low-AR weaves that I never got into when I was younger. Loke's multiple submissions come to mind.* Any suggestions for weaves/project ideas would be appreciated!*

edit: just found TRL's custom rings policy. makes my job easier. but still might be costly.


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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:05 pm
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*cracks knuckles*

Okay, well, first thing to note: 24K gold is extremely soft. Especially in a small ring size: would not recommend (unless you're going with a very high AR and a second type of ring to reinforce it; were you intending to have it in the weave or only as the captive rings?).

As per setting the stone with maille, people have done very nice settings in HP 4-1 wrapped around the outer perimeter. I don't know if you already have a stone size picked out, but this would work nicely if you're putting in a moderately sized stone. Anything smaller than say, 1 cm diameter, I'd probably go with something that's already been set, although you can set your own stones without maille as well. You just need to purchase a stone and a setting to match. Or, depending on your skill with metalworking, making your own non-maille setting is always an option. There's a lovely craft called filigree that deals with just such items.

As for weave, I don't know what your aesthetic preferences are. I'll let older and wiser maillers argue that one out. Personally, I'm a fan of the classics. I like HP 4-1 and byzantine, and have made chains of both from 22 SWG and 24 SWG, respectively, in titanium.

Soldering is always good for small weaves. I do quite a few small items myself, but I usually use titanium or stainless because they can deal with quite a bit of strain, which is a must when you don't know how gently your product is going to be treated (I also use copper...but it definitely doesn't have the same tensile strength as titanium). So your metal and AR are going to play a part in weave strength almost as much as soldering would.

Working with small rings is going to re-teach you closure techniques. Just warning you.

Another aspect that might bear consideration: are you planning on this just being a micromaille chain, or were you thinking of going more complex (e.g. multiple chains, multiple weaves, multiple stones...)?

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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:31 pm
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Hey, thanks for the quick response. always better to brainstorm with someone else Smile

Shine_on_girl wrote:
*cracks knuckles*

Okay, well, first thing to note: 24K gold is extremely soft. Especially in a small ring size: would not recommend (unless you're going with a very high AR and a second type of ring to reinforce it; were you intending to have it in the weave or only as the captive rings?).
*Sorry, I wasn't really clear. I'm well aware that 24K gold would be soft, but the weave is made in a way that it doesn't place any stress on the inside 2-1 chain. It's not really "captive" per se, but the 2-1 chain and the 4-2 chain don't connect directly to one another.*

As per setting the stone with maille, people have done very nice settings in HP 4-1 wrapped around the outer perimeter.
*that would look BEAUTIFUL (i think)...the natural weave contour would "cup" the stone i guess. any pics of a finished piece?*

I don't know if you already have a stone size picked out
*nope*

, but this would work nicely if you're putting in a moderately sized stone. Anything smaller than say, 1 cm diameter, I'd probably go with something that's already been set
*why's that? just curious,

although you can set your own stones without maille as well. You just need to purchase a stone and a setting to match. Or, depending on your skill with metalworking, making your own non-maille setting is always an option. There's a lovely craft called filigree that deals with just such items.
*All great suggestions, but they seem to be slightly out of my realm...I'd rather not learn something new when I have to worry about quality.*

As for weave, I don't know what your aesthetic preferences are. I'll let older and wiser maillers argue that one out. Personally, I'm a fan of the classics. I like HP 4-1 and byzantine, and have made chains of both from 22 SWG and 24 SWG, respectively, in titanium.
*I love HP 4-1, but for jewelry I don't like it because of its rectangular shape. The captive 2-1 definitely has a rounder shape when it's hanging. and byz? I dunno, it just seems boring. plenty of mainstream jewelry pieces use this nowadays. It's great, but I want to do something truly unique. Also, I'd be worried about the "flaps" catching on things. *

Soldering is always good for small weaves. I do quite a few small items myself,
*judging from my limited experience soldering electronics, I would probably not have much luck getting a good-looking ring.*

but I usually use titanium or stainless because they can deal with quite a bit of strain, which is a must when you don't know how gently your product is going to be treated (I also use copper...but it definitely doesn't have the same tensile strength as titanium). So your metal and AR are going to play a part in weave strength almost as much as soldering would.

Working with small rings is going to re-teach you closure techniques. Just warning you.
*Yep. I'm also anticipating learning a few new obscenities as well. feel free to elaborate on your experiences! *

Another aspect that might bear consideration: are you planning on this just being a micromaille chain, or were you thinking of going more complex (e.g. multiple chains, multiple weaves, multiple stones...)?
*tbh, I wasn't considering anything drastic. I'm considering the micromaille a means to an end: which is a simple chain with a pendant.*


thanks for your feedback!!


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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:47 pm
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Here's a decent picture of what I was referring to with the stone wrap. You can find more in the gallery-> jewelry-> pendants.
http://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=2980

You probably wouldn't want to do a wrap on a much smaller stone simply because it would be insanity. It is difficult enough to close HP 4-1 into a continuous chain. It becomes more difficult to do so with another thing in the middle of the chain to keep track of.

As for experiences... well, I definitely have two noticeable scars on my left hand from learning how to close tiny saw-cut titanium. I can post pictures if you like Very Happy

It took a while for me to transition from machine-cut to saw-cut. There's metal missing and you have to push the ends together as you're closing them. I actually made a forum post on it back in the day complaining about there being a kerf. Rolling Eyes I know better now.

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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:05 pm
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When doing jewellery I work in one of three metals:
1. Anodized Titanium (can be very small and very strong while giving you some really nice colours. I particularly like the blues, greens and purples).
2. Square Stainless Steel (too bulky and more meant for masculine jewellery)
3. Argentium Silver.

I think the last one may be a viable option for you. I find it to be cleaner and stronger than other kinds of silver and in particular it does something that only fine silver does. Using a micro torch you can weld the ends together without using any flux, etc. I would also say this is a good option because it's not actually that difficult to make your rings yourself. All you need is the wire, the mandrel and a jewellers saw.

Welded together, the rings would survive anything you threw at them within reason (fully annealed argentium is slightly softer than the other types of silver but once hardened it becomes stronger than sterling or fine for the same rating. i.e. half strength to half strength or spring to spring) and there would be no need for cleaning beyond an occasional trip to the tumbler.

I've personally made multiple rings and bracelets in the stuff using spiral and byzantine weaves. That said, since you're talking necklaces, there are some GORGEOUS examples that you can find here for necklaces.

If you want to make it a bit fancy, you can try and do argentium as the main rings and then have an outside layer of gold fill to accent it. A good example of this would be the third picture of the trinity twist earrings (which are gorgeous. One day I'm going to make a pair for my wife.)

http://www.mailleartisans.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=14016

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Posted on Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:05 pm
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I strongly recommend not playing with 1/16" links. I never have but do have a fair amount of micro experience and know enough to tell you it's unrealistic and you will go blind. you would probably have better luck soldering the 22 5/64 into a nice tight jpl, not that i think that is really humanly possible. For a micro project of a significant size I would say 22awg 3/32" is doable but exhaustively time consuming and hell on the eyes even with magnification. I think if your girl wants a hair thin chain that is strong and silver. you should look in a jewelry store there are some beautiful machine made chains out there at reasonable prices.

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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:34 am
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Obviously you have a strong attachment to Captive 2 in 1 Chain, and for good reason.

However... it might be more effective to have something that looks delicate as well as being delicate; I mean one of the more lacy-looking weaves, such as:

This would also have the advantage of not looking like your standard machine-made chains, clear at first glance that it's something different.


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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:58 am
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There are a handful of pendants that can be made from chainmail.

As for small necklace cord you might like Viking wire knit drawn down to a small size.

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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:33 am
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losthelm wrote:
There are a handful of pendants that can be made from chainmail.

As for small necklace cord you might like Viking wire knit drawn down to a small size.


oh yes that is fine but strong and easy to do, and can be quicker in the long run as you wont need to make rings.

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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:17 pm
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kerravonsen wrote:
Obviously you have a strong attachment to Captive 2 in 1 Chain, and for good reason.

However... it might be more effective to have something that looks delicate as well as being delicate; I mean one of the more lacy-looking weaves, such as:

This would also have the advantage of not looking like your standard machine-made chains, clear at first glance that it's something different.


While elfweave might work, the rest don't appeal to my aesthetic tastes...because they're all either flat or rectangular.

is it unreasonable to assume that a necklace chain should be round in shape? no sarcasm here, im really curious what others prefer/have gotten results from.

re: use of materials...I may be putting myself in a box by doing this, but I want to limit my materials to sterling silver, fine silver, and 24k gold (probably not an option). the reason why I want to only use these materials is that I'm looking to make a piece that demands as little explanation as possible. I want it to be a silver chain with a sapphire pendant. When I'm giving the present, I don't want to have to explain 42 different things about what it is and what it's made of. IMO it takes away from the "wow" factor.

My philosophy with this project is that it's *MY* responsibility to take care of any complexities and difficulties that may arise. I want things to be as simple for the wearer as possible. In other words, just look at it, wear it and be careful with it.

Does that make sense to you guys? Maybe I'm a little out of touch. I definitely feel like I'm not taking the "art" of mailling as seriously anymore. Instead of seeing it as an art in and of itself, I'm seeing it as a very small (limited) discipline within the general art of jewelry. I most certainly do NOT think that maille on its own can stand by itself as an artform (otherwise you could give 14G 3/8" galvy necklaces to people). Sorry guys, maybe I'm getting jaded cause I don't think maille is "cool" anymore :/ In this case, it is only being used as a means to an end - that is, it's an imitation of silver chains often made by machines or with custom links, etc. If I can't achieve that, it's not worth it for me or the wearer. It's meant as an art piece foremost, discussion piece secondarily.

as an addendum to that rant...I'm sure there's a possibility that 2-1 captive might still not be the right weave. But in my mind it seems do-able so we'll have to see how things work out when I get my hands on the rings. Still welcoming suggestions Smile

PS: now that I think about it...captive inverted round would look REALLY cool in mircomaille. Only problem is that you'd need really high AR so soldering/fusing would be a must :/

EDIT: I suppose I should include what my "target" audience is...my girlfriend doesn't know much about my mailling cause it's far in the past for me. I may have mentioned that I used to do it, but she never got totally captivated by it or anything. She doesn't typically find this stuff that interesting....she's just a regular girl who likes good food, stuffed animals and pretty jewelry. Smile


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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:34 pm
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That's cool if you want to avoid argentium silver (the only difference between sterling and argentium is that sterling has a bit of copper in it while argentium has a bit of germanium). Though this means you either need to learn how to solder or have to use fine silver with a micro torch to weld otherwise you won't manage to get the pieces to look as delicate as you seem to want to while still maintaining strength/durability.

There are lots of great pics in the Gallery forum. Unfortunately I didn't save the links of the pics that I've nestled away in OneNote, so I can't direct you back to them. A quick search of submitted necklace pictures netted these:

http://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=4603
http://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=4756
http://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=6871
http://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=7207

There are a lot of really amazing examples if you just go for a wee look.

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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:56 pm
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I didn't know that about argentium. For some reason I never made the connection that it is also 92% silver. Thanks for the info! How does the price compare with fine silver? I figure even if argentium and sterling cost the same to manufacture, sterling must be a bit cheaper cause there's just more of it on the market.

I'm starting to get the impression that this project is gonna demand some serious amounts of soldered/fused rings. Which means I've already made one mistake: ordering sterling silver. =x Good thing I wised up and ordered a nominal amount of supplies. Luckily, the smallest and most delicate rings that would be involved are on the inside of the weave, and therefore protected. And furthermore, the outside layer essentially consists of 4-2 chain which is easily constructed with lots of pre-closed rings.

Quote:
this opens up a whole 'nother can o' worms though...If I constructed the 2-1 using as many pre-fused rings as i could, it would be 50% closed, but all the open rings would be on the same "structural axis" if that makes sense.
a general question: If I decide to fuse in any capacity, how important is it that i fuse ALL of the rings, as opposed to 50%? In other words, how well does the "weakest link" theory hold up?


Quote:
a few more related but specific questions:

let's say I have the outside chain like this: =O=O=O=O=O
that is, the "=" is two rings, and the "O" is ONE ring. So I'd still need to place the inside chain "inside" it and stitch up the outside chain to make it 4-2.

1: I'm gonna assume I don't have the technology/patience to fuse or solder myself. How crazy would it be to ship them to someone (TRL?) to fuse each "O" (single) ring in this scenario? For clarity's sake, I'll mention that I'd still have to stitch up the outside chain with normal rings, so all told the outside chain would be 75% fused.

2: What about the last 25% of the weave? How crazy would it be to ask someone to fuse those ones too? So basically, I'd construct a "4-1" chain using fused "O" rings, Ship them out to someone to fuse the "O" rings for me, then finish the weave and ship it out AGAIN to someone to fuse the rings I used to "stitch" up the pattern. I have a hunch this might be a little too pricey for me, providing anyone would actually take on such a project at such a small scale.

3: I get that the difference between 100% and 50% fused is probably drastic...but what about 75%? So in other words, everywhere there's a non-fused ring, there's a fused ring on the other side to support it. Maybe that might be the happy medium.


btw: just checked out the links you posted. They look great, but none work for the project I'm envisioning. They're either too chunky (the spiral) or just don't have the dimensions I'm looking for (the japanese weave). Thanks for the input, I'll lurk around the gallery to see if I can find some more.


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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:30 pm
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ive just looked at your captive 2 in 1 chain, i hadnt come across that yet so thanks for pointing it out, its just printed

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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:04 pm
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traceyalex wrote:
ive just looked at your captive 2 in 1 chain, i hadnt come across that yet so thanks for pointing it out, its just printed


It's a beautiful looking weave. I should really change the description though. The sample I showed is somewhat stiff, but it doesn't have to be. I listed an AR, but it wasn't thoroughly tested. furthermore, the AR isn't the only factor...the relationship between the outside chain's ID and the inside chain's OD have more to do with it. Even then it's not even THAT simple, but incredibly hard to quantify.

In the end, it'd be simpler to just list a bunch of ring size combinations that work.


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Posted on Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:30 pm
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Argentium is an interesting metal, I find it to be a little whiter than the other two silvers. I also find the germanium makes it more resistant to tarnishing. You can draw the germanium closer to the surface by putting it into an oven for 30 mins @ 250 degrees. This makes it's tarnish resistance well nigh invincible.

The interesting bit about argentium is that although it was invented by a Brit, it's more difficult to find in the UK. All the argentium I've bought has been from American sources over the net. As to the price, it's comparable with sterling or fine. I haven't really noticed any difference.

On to the fusing, which honestly isn't really that hard. Especially considering that once done, you never have to go backwards because it's not breaking apart, snagging, etc. (especially considering argentium is harder than fine and sterling). Here's the link that first started me onto fusing argentium:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AlaOMWrmrg

The setup is relatively cheap. You need an old baking tin as a workspace. You need a soldering block. You need a micro torch which costs nothing on amazon. You need the fuel for the micro torch. And you need a set of pliers that you're happy to use just for your fusing work. Oh and don't forget to wear safety glasses.

As for whether or not you'd need to fuse every ring, that comes down to what you want. In your =o=o setup, you could probably get away with having one of the rings in the = link not be fused. But the unfused link would still be prone to snagging or being crushed. The fused rings obviously would not be.

You'll note that I used link and ring in a different sense. You can have one ring be a link or multiple rings be one link in the chain. Atleast one ring in the link would need to be fused for maximal strength. Anything else beyond that is up to you. I personally prefer to fuse them all as it means I never have to worry about the piece ever again.

Now, just to clarify. I started using half hard argentium in 24g and none of my unfused pieces have fallen apart. There was minimal snagging involved and as of yet no repairs on my unfused pieces. This has been over a year. So argentium holds together fairly well without fusing. I just figure if I'm going to use silver in a piece, that I want it to be as well made as possible.

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