Sunday, November 29, 2009

On My Floor

I spend a lot more time on my floor than I would like to ... it's absolutely amazing how far a bead can fly when the beading needle hits it at the wrong angle or how much a jump ring can roll when the pliers don't have a good grip on it (note that it's the needle's and the pliers' fault, of course!). My beading workspace is a fairly small corner of the room, and there's a lot of stuff around my beading desk, so looking for something that has fallen can mean being on my hands and knees, moving things around to look for the missing object.

So here's my rabbit story: last year, I was in Philadelphia, and the day I left to fly back to France, I called home from the airport to say that I was indeed on my way. Marcel told me that he had let the cat out at lunchtime, and when he called the cat back in, the cat brought a small rabbit with him. The rabbit was still alive, and it took off to hide, right in the room where I bead - Marcel wasn't sure exactly where, but he closed the door to keep the rabbit in there.

The next morning, when I arrived in Paris, I called home to say that I was in the country. I asked about the rabbit: Marcel said that he had opened the door again, and in the morning he found the rabbit done for in the hallway, the cat having done his hunter thing for once in his life. The rabbit had been appropriately disposed of, and I didn't think a lot more about it.

Fast forward about two months. Once again, I was on my hands and knees on the floor, looking for a bead. This one had really gone astray, so I was under my work desk to look in the deepest corners of the room. My desk is a sheet of plate glass that sits on two small bookcases, and I finally got under as far as I could to look behind the bookcases. And behind one of them there was something unidentifiable ... and I thought, what on earth is that ... and suddenly I realized where the rabbit had been hiding until the cat got wise to him ... and the rabbit had clearly been distressed and left lots of evidence of it ... and let's hear it for hand-held portable vacuum cleaners ... and luckily, the bead turned up somewhere else!

From top to bottom:
*Matte glass hearts, turquoise matte 8° seed beads
*An assortment of large stones, jasper rounds, quartz rondelles
*Vintage red and yellow glass beads from an old jewelry shop in Paris - long enough to be worn double or triple

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chain Mail, Part One

Chain mail has been with us for centuries! In all simplicity, it is connecting one ring to another to create armor, jewelry, juggling balls, handbags, you name it. However, connecting one ring to another is a bit more complicated than it might sound. Rings are made from wire, and wire has gauge (thickness); rings also have a diameter measurement that is variable, depending on how the ring is made. The relationship between the gauge and the diameter - a ratio - has an influence on how the linked piece looks and wears; it can also determine how easy or difficult it is to work with the rings.

Rings can be made out of many different materials: gold, silver, copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, steel, rubber, niobium, titanium ... they don't all behave the same way and they certainly don't all cost the same. I have particularly enjoyed working with aluminum, which can be anodized in many colors. There is the fun of trying different patterns AND seeing how the colors play with each other.

Whenever I try something new, I like to wear it for a while to see how it is. I LOVE wearing the anodized aluminum!! It is lightweight (but almost too lightweight for pierced earrings that hook - they tend to fall out of the ear lobe) and a pleasure to wear. And some of the weaves jingle - it's a nice sound.

Learning the different weaves has been an interesting process. A pair of pliers in each hand requires some coordination (which I don't have some days!). The anodized aluminum coating does not stand up to rough handling with the pliers - you have to practice. The rings come cut and slightly open, and every single ring has to be opened or closed to start, and if it is opened, it has to be closed at some point in the process of making the chain.


From top to bottom, left to right:
*Chaos Chain in black, turquoise, purple, red, pink
*Box Chain in blue, green, yellow, orange, pink
*Byzantine Chain in red, black
*Spiral Chain in golden, bronze
*A chain whose name I forget because it was the first one I learned, and that's been a while; it's done in purple and blue, and it has teal crystals dangling from it.