How to make a chainmaille bracelet - step by step jewellery making tutorial
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Designed by: Agata Szybalska
Together with Agata Szybalska we present to you our newest jewellery making tutorial, this time it’s the chainmaille technique. Agata will show you how to make a bracelet of jump rings which may have a various style depending on its finish. The bracelet will be made with a Helm Chain weave, a perfect one for beginners.
Hello, all you crazy handicraftswomen and handicraftsmen! I just wanted to show you how you can make a quite simple bracelet which can be perfect for a carnival ball, an evening out or to work depending on the materials and charms you use. Even if you have no experience with this technique, you will make this bracelet with ease. This chainmaille tutorial is just for you!
Firstly, you need to prepare the materials and tools. Here’s the list:
- Jump rings – 3 sizes of open jump rings: 8mm rings of 1mm thickness (63 pieces), 6mm rings of 1mm thickness (50 pieces) and 5mm of 1mm thickness (5 pieces)
- Lobster clasp – 12-14mm and smaller – 9mm (5 pieces)
- Charms – 5 pieces
- Jewellery tools - two pairs of flat nose pliers
- A bead mat will be useful.
Remember, the tutorial teaches you mainly the basic Helm Chain weave, which makes a perfect base for other projects. You don’t need to attach the charms to your bracelet and you can make it in one colour – it’s all up to you!
If this is your first attempt at the chainmaille technique, I need to give you some basic information before we get to the point.
Firstly: the jump rings. The open jump rings are required (you can’t use split rings). They must be cut smoothly – the endings of the wire cannot overlap and there cannot be too bigger gap between them.
Secondly: the pliers. Choose smooth jawed flat nose pliers (the round ones aren’t good here), not serrated. The shape is up to you, you can choose wide, narrow or curved ones. They must provide a comfortable and stable grip on as broad surface of the jump ring as possible.
Thirdly: the technique of opening/closing the jump rings: hold both endings of a jump ring with pliers, try to grip as broad surface of the ring as possible, and open a jump ring as shown in the picture, like you wanted to stretch a spring. Don’t pull the endings aside, because the jump ring will deform irrevocably.
Now we can start to work. The bracelet consists of a base and attached charms. The base is made with the Helm Chain weave of jump rings in two colours: Gold Plated and Surgical Steel. It’s a rather elegant combination, perfect for an evening out, but the colours are all up to you, you just need to choose the proper size. The bracelet presented in the tutorial is perfect for a 16-17cm wrist. If your wrist is smaller, you need to make one element less, but you need to remember that a bracelet with charms cannot be too tight.
The Helm weave is really easy to make. The best recommendation is that you can make it in various ways, adding various sizes of jump rings. I’m going to show you 3 methods of doing that.
Method 1 (my favourite and, for me, the most pleasant)
Like beads, jump rings sometimes like hiding and running away, so a mat is useful here. Before you start making your bracelet, you need to prepare the jump rings: you may prepare all of them at once or while weaving. You need 40 x 6mm jump rings (open all of them) and 62 x 8mm rings – open 20 of them, and leave the 42 closed.
Slide 4 x 8mm closed jump rings through a 6mm open jump ring. Close the jump ring.
Attach another 6 mm jump ring the same way.
You should have such a piece of a chain, 2-2-2.
Put a bigger ring around the central set of small rings (gold ones). Don't attach the ring to anything. Close the ring.
Arrange everything so that the last attached ring is placed between the 8mm rings.
Here’s the side view.
Connect two side jump rings with the next two closed rings with 1 smaller ring.
And with another smaller one.
Put a bigger ring around the set of small rings. Remember to place it between the previous big rings.
Close the ring.
While doing this, it will be easier to close the ring if you bend the side rings a bit – you will get some extra space for the pliers
Repeat steps 10 – 14 until you’ve made the desirable length of the bracelet. Remember to place the central ring between the sets of the big jump rings in the main chain. The bracelet consists of 20 elements.
It’s very similar to the 1st one, but, at the beginning, you need to make a chain of 2-2-2 until you get the desirable length.
After that you attach the central jump rings.
The disadvantage of this method is that there isn’t much space to work with the pliers while closing the central rings. The advantage is that there aren’t any loose, unruly side jump rings which get tangled while attaching the central ring between them.
1.Working with this method, it’s good to prepare all the smaller jump rings closed, and the bigger ones: 20 closed and 42 open (unlike the 1st method).
2. Make a chain first: 1 big - 2 small - 1 big jump ring until you get the desirable length of your bracelet, in this bracelet: 21 big and 20 sets of smaller ones. The easiest way to make it, is to slide 1 big jump ring through the 4 smaller ones and close it (unlike the 1st and the 2nd method).
Put a closed ring around one set of two small rings.
Slide another big jump ring through two smaller ones. Make sure the one added previously is placed under the ring added in this step.
Close the ring, and put another one big closed jump ring around the next two rings.
Slide 1 big jump ring through the 4 smaller ones, blocking the following jump rings inside.
Repeat previous two steps in the tutorial until you get the desirable length of your bracelet. Then it’s time to attach a clasp
Attach a lobster clasp to one end. Open a jump ring (it’s size is not important, but it’s good if its strong and as small as possible. I used a 5mm jump ring of 1mm thickness), slide it through two side rings and the lobster clasp.
Attach 1 big jump ring to the 2nd end of your bracelet.
The base of your bracelet is finished.
Now we need to make some charms. In that case, we need pendants, small lobster clasps and small jump rings.
Slide the jump ring through the pendant and the lobster clasp.
Close the jump ring, and there you go – you’ve made a charm.
Do the same with all of the pendants.
You may attach the charms to the bracelet any place you want. Or you may not attach them at all. The base itself looks interesting.
The bracelet presented below is perfect for a carnival due to its colours and the style of the charms…
… but change the style or the number of the charms and you’ll have a classic, elegant bracelet.
You may also use different materials and make an everyday version of the bracelet. Or attach a plenty of colourful minerals or beads
And the last thing: what to do if you don’t have the same jump rings? Can they be replaced? The answer is: yes, but they must meet the rules. The parameters of the jump rings are very important in the chainmaille technique. There are 4 of them: inside dimension (ID), outside dimension (OD), wire diameter (WD) and the most important – aspect ratio (AR). The parameters are ancillary and if you know any two of them, you can easily count the rest.
In this weave the AR parameter should be 6 for the bigger and 4 for the smaller jump rings (if you use the jump rings of the same diameter of the wire). You can count it with ease, but you need to remember that in the shops you can usually find information about the outside dimension and the wire diameter. The size is given in full milimetres (no halves). So you need to use this formula: AR=(OD-2xWD)/WD. I’ve prepared a table with the most common jump rings diameter. The given size is the outside dimension:
A smaller jump ring
A bigger jump ring
You may also use jump rings of a different wire diameter. But the absolute rule is that the smaller ring needs to fit in the bigger one with ease
The inside dimension of a smaller ring should be about four times bigger than the wire diameter of a bigger jump ring. But you may cheat a bit here, and if it’s little less you can attach 1 smaller linking jump ring, like in the tutorial (8 and 5mm jump rings of 1mm thickness). In this case, the weave is a bit tight.
I hope I didn’t bore you. Please, share the pictures of your finished bracelets. I’m sure you will make something new up. You can show your bracelets in our group.
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