Sunday, 31 August 2014

Handmade Monday: Chain maille flowers tutorial

What a lovely week it's been since the weather got over itself on Monday.  We had a great walk yesterday at Wixford, followed by a delicious lunch at The Fish pub there.  It's been a good week for sales in the shop too, especially for bag charms, and I've made some progress updating my web site so people can design their own charm bracelets and necklaces.  The wild flower strips in the Coventry parks make you think you're in Italy!

They are actually not sunflowers but loads of these lovely flowers. Do you know what they are called?

They've inspired a tutorial this week.  Partly because I've not done one for a while and partly because I find it so easy for me to forget how to do things these days, it's handy to write them down on my blog. Also, unlike the other chain maille designs I've done, I'm not sure if anyone has done this particular flower design this way before. You usually find there is nothing new in the world of craft, so apologies if I am unwittingly copying!  Here's a daisy version of the watch style bracelet.

You'll need 11 beads and 51 jump rings for this design.  The tutorial is just for the flower - if you want to turn it into a watch style bracelet you'll need a few more jump rings in different sizes and to learn the butterfly chain maille weave.  I can cover that in another tutorial if you want. I'm using 6mm beads and 50 5mm jump rings, and one large 12mm jump ring for the centre. You need a bit of fine gauge wire too (0.4mm is good) and some beading thread. I like to use very strong jump rings, the ones I'm using here are 1.2mm gauge - Fabfifi50 on EBay is my favourite supplier for these.

Start with the 12mm jump ring. Close it and use the fine wire to wrap one of the 6mm beads in the centre, then add 10 of the 5mm jump rings to either side of the bead. 

It looks a bit messy at the moment and the centre bead will be quite loose. Don't worry about that - it will all tighten up soon.  

Next add 10 jump rings to link up in pairs the jump rings you've just put on. 

This is a very easy design but the next bit is where you could do with counting out 10 of the remaining jump rings and making sure you keep stopping to check that you're adding the jump rings on the same side of the flower.  This time you link two of the original jump rings again, but alternate ones from last time so that the next layer of jump rings lays on top of the last one. It's hard to explain, but hopefully clearer in the photo. 

The design will be really loose at the this point, so watch out for naughty jump rings trying to flip over and confuse the pattern!  The next step is to tighten the whole thing up with jump rings linking the last two layers:

Use 10 again and make sure you always link two jump rings but never go through the same jump ring twice. 

Now it's time to add the beads. Put one as a stopper bead on a long length of beading thread and then begin to sew them on, picking up one jump ring from the last layer between each bead as you go:

I find I need to go around with the thread several times to get the flower really rigid. The advantage is that you then don't need to tie or crimp the ends of the beading thread, they can just be cut.  You can see the beading thread a little but I don't think it detracts too much from the flower.

Once finished, you can add further connector jump rings as you need them.
There you go. 

Here's a link to what other crafty folk have been doing this week. 

Alison x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wordless Wedneday: Wild flowers

The parks in Coventry have a new initiative this year to designate an area to wildflowers.  The results are stunning.  I hope the idea lasts.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Handmade Monday: Getting the big cats mixed up

I love my charms, as most of you know.  It may be that outside of actual shops that sell charms, I have the world's biggest collection of bronze charms.  They are very popular in my online shops.  I'm thinking of putting a facility on my website for Chritmas so that people can design their own charm bracelet by choosing combinations of charms - do you think that would work?  It will take a lot of organising and I haven't started yet, although I have discovered a lovely little app (Framemagic) that lets me make collages like this really easily.

So browsing charms a couple of weeks ago I came across a lovely leopard head.  Great, I thought, it will make a pretty bag charm with a glass animal print bead I've already got.  So the charm came, I put the bead with it.  This is the result:

Spotted the deliberate (not) mistake (excuse the pun)?  Do leopards have stripes?  No, they do not.  Should I have thought of this before?  Yes.  Am I going to change it?  No.  It will have to be the big cats bag charm instead... Doh!

Here's a link to what other crafty people have been doing this week.

Alison x

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Handmade Monday Flowers and more flowers

Perhaps it's something to do with the lovely sunny weather? Some of you might know I often demonstrate a bit of obsessiveness in my crafting life. At the moment, and for about eight months now, it's been chain maille that I've turned to in every spare moment, and for the last few weeks, since discovering the inspirational work of Scott David Plumlee, I've been making chain maille  flowers like there is no tomorrow. Some of them are quite dainty like these Celtic flowers:

Some are more robust like these Byzantine flowers:

And then there are real whoppers like these 11 bead flowers. When you put them together in a bracelet, they are a real statement! 

Some might prefer just one in a watch-style bracelet:

I'd love to know iwhich you like best?

Here's a link to find out what others have been crafting this week

Hope you're enjoying this lovely summer,

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