Chainmaille Process Videos

Making chainmaille jewelry is a long process. In these three short videos, I’m highlighting the steps.

1. Coiling the sterling silver wire (I usually make 3 – 5 coils at a time, depending on the design)

2. Cutting the coils to make rings

3. Weaving the rings into the chain and welding them shut. (I’ll show just one ring here – visualize this occurring 100+ times.)

FYI: The videos are 15 seconds long and have no sound.

Now, I have left out a few steps, such as washing the lubricant (dish soap) off the cut rings, opening the rings, filing the cut edges (this is the boring part!), getting perfect closures, and cleaning and polishing the final jewelry. Even so, these videos show how I go from the sterling silver wire to weaving a single ring into a piece of chain.

Once I have made the rings, the total time per ring is about 1 minute from opening to welding.

Video one: Coiling the wire

I’m using the Pepe Jump Ring Maker to make wire coils. This is the older version that came with a mounting board. Notice that I use a hand clamp to keep it still while I wind the coil.

Video two: Cutting the coil

I’m also using the Pepe Jump Ring Maker here, as you can see. I put the unit inside a plastic tub to reduce the metal dust flying around. I’ve cut more than 25,000 rings with the Pepe. (See this post for tips on using the Pepe Jump Ring Maker.)

Video three: Weaving and welding a single ring

I use an Orion mPulse 30 for spot welding, which I bought a few months ago. I love, love, love it. If you watch very closely, you’ll see a quick flash – that’s the ring being welded closed.

Turquoise and Elfweave Showcase Bracelet

My latest design, and I am super excited about it. I made a broad bracelet using Elfweave (stabilized), and then had a local Navajo jeweler build the centerpiece based on my design and with my Hubei Turquoise stone. The result is pretty amazing!

(See it in the Desert Chains Shop)


What are we looking at?

Chain

The design is Elfweave sheet, which means a continuous band of Elfweave. The chain is about 1″ wide. It does not have a clasp, so the chain is unbroken. It is made in 100% sterling silver. It’s a heavy chain, at 1.75 ounces. As you can see here, the chain has no breaks for the clasp.

Centerpiece

So, how does the bracelet clasp?

The box centerpiece IS the clap. The “tongue” slips into one side of the box and locks into place. It features minimal design to counterbalance the complexity of the chain and focus attention on that beautiful stone.

I have a friend who is a really great silversmith. After I bought that stone, I explained my design for the centerpiece clasp. He built the clasp and set the stone. I’m very pleased with how it came out.

The Centerpiece Stone

That cabochon on the centerpiece is Hubei Turquoise. I love the green and teal shades, with the golden brown matrix.

Hubei turquoise comes from the Hubei province of China. Most turquoise these days comes from China, and the very best comes from the Hubei province. There are only 2 primary mines in the region, and one of them closed recently! That stone will go up and up in value, I am sure.

By itself, the stone cost me nearly $200. (Actually, the first stone I picked out was nearly $300, but, well, I couldn’t justify the cost at the time. On the other hand, this stone is extraordinary. At 58 carets, it is slightly heavy.

SPECS

  • Weight: 3.5 ounces (quite heavy)
  • Length: 7.5 inches
    (However, the box clasp is long and doesn’t bend around the wrist–this bracelet will not fit a 7.5-inch wrist. It fits fine on a 7.25-inch wrist.)
  • Width: 1.25 inches

Durability

I welded all the rings near the clasp. The chain, itself, is strong, and I don’t expect that any rings will ever fall out unless someone really tries or catches it on something and yanks it hard. The rings at the chain ends are also strong, but welding makes sure, just in case.

On the other hand, it someone needs this re-sized, I will need to cut off all those rings on both sides of the chain.

The stone is the most likely component to take damage. It this bracelet gets dropped on the stone face, I suppose it could crack, just like any other turquoise cabochon. It cannot be repaired, only replaced, so let’s hope that never happens!

Plans for This Bracelet

Of course, I would love to sell this piece. It’s currently listed at $820. Resizing will be charged because of the materials and a lot of time.

However, if I don’t sell it in the next few months, this will be my 2021 State Fair entry (assuming we have one this year!).

Overall, this was a very enjoyable and satisfying project. I will likely make another one. Already, my wife wants one, but with a smaller stone. I plan to make several more, with a variety of stone sizes. I might make one with a square or rectangular stone, which would be great.

But this one is pretty amazing!

Tips for Using the Pepe Jump Ring Maker

(Update: The #1 problem people have when using the Pepe is blade binding, in which the blade slows down a lot and even stops completely. All the tips below will help you use the Pepe more easily and produce better rings, but if your main problem is blade binding, skip directly to Tip #4.)

(Update: This is an older post from my original web site – see it here. Pepe has a newer version of the Jump Ring Maker. It’s basically the same, but without the mounting board and a new, better winding crank. All the advice here applies to the new version, as well.)

I love my Pepe Jump Ring maker and couldn’t live without it. Here’s my Pepe set up:

pepe1

The Pepe and Flexishaft Combo costs around $200 (update: more now), and it is worth the price. After buying crappy rings from hobby stores and after using the little wire coiling-thingy from a well-known bead and jewelry supplier, I decided to get serious. Sure, it was a little pricey for me, but I knew it would pay for itself in time and per-ring costs over time.

I have made more than 20,000 rings since purchasing the Jump Ring Maker, and I still love it. Really, really love it. Worth every penny! Continue reading “Tips for Using the Pepe Jump Ring Maker”

Super-fine Chain Bracelet

(Originally posted on my old web site in 2014)

For several months now (in 2014!), I have been wanting to make a micromaille JPL chainmaille bracelet. Micromaille is chainmaille that is typically at or below 3.0 mm inner diameter. It’s little. Very little.

The problem, however, is that I didn’t have any way to coil wire into rings that size. The smallest coiling mandrel on the Pepe Ring Maker is 2.5 mm. I have made some nice JPL pieces in 2.5, but I couldn’t go any smaller.

Problem solved! I am using a 2.0mm knitting needle in my Pepe wire coiler, and a spool of 22 gauge (AWG) wire. I just stick the needle in the crank, load some 22 gauge wire, and start winding coils. I didn’t know if I would be able to cut the coils into rings, but they cut just fine, thus leaving me with a nice pile of micromaille jump rings for a very thin chain. Continue reading “Super-fine Chain Bracelet”

Process for Photoshop Editing Jewelry Models

Now that I have finished taking pictures of my most recent model, it’s time for the hard work: editing with Photoshop. (I highly recommend Photoshop! You can get a subscription to the Adobe Photography plan if you don’t have Photoshop already. It costs about $10 per month, and it is worth it.) Once the images are done, I will create a new model’s gallery and add the images. 

In the 6 step-by-step videos below, I demonstrate all the steps I go through for Photoshop editing of jewelry models. Each video demonstrates a set of tasks, and I explain how I do them. If you are creating images for your website, these are some typical editing tasks you will likely need to know.

The list of videos and Photoshop editing tasks

Video 1: Replacing the ugly background with a white background (10:36)
Video 2: Removing facial acne and smoothing the skin (17:16)
Video 3: General clean up, removing a tattoo and skin blemishes (11:20)
Video 4: Re-coloring the purple halo around the silver bracelet (4:19)
Video 5: Painting fingernails and replacing the light sheen on top (22:38)
Video 6: Resizing, cropping, adding a watermark, and exporting (10:32)

Here are the Before and After images. The videos show I get from before to after.

Continue reading “Process for Photoshop Editing Jewelry Models”