39 Metals | Ch-Ch-Chain of Cool

64 Arts

Having done our duty to the other metals in our life, now let’s go back to the sparkly bits that make our days brighter.

Mixing metals

The rule I learned long ago was simple not to mix gold and silver jewelry; pretty much no ifs, ands, or buts. These days, though, especially with the current popularity of metallics in fashion, gold and silver and other metals are getting cozy together. The trick, as I see it, to successfully mix metals is to wear at least one piece that includes both metals you might be wearing separately. This takes a hodge-podge of shiny designs and makes it into a definite fashion statement.

Another thing to keep in mind is the finish of the metals. If you look at some of the pieces in my Polyvore collage, above, you see that the statement pieces are either all shiny or all “antiqued” or duller and so they look like a planned set. So if you’ve got a heavily antiqued silver bracelet and a high-shine gold necklace, those two pieces might not fit together as well as ones that match to overall look of each.

Even though I got rid of most of my yellow-gold jewelry a few years ago when I decided for once and for all that I liked the look (and cost!) of silver better, I do have some gold-tone costume pieces that occasionally work with an outfit. If it’s just a single necklace I won’t worry too much about mixing my metals, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some mixed-metal pieces in my collection to round things out.

Of course, not all metal is merely silver or gold in composition or color…

As I was brainstorming post ideas, I couldn’t help but assign myself a task that fulfills one of my long-time craft to-dos: a chain maille bracelet. I’d hoped to be able to find some of the awesome multi-colored aluminum jump rings that I’ve seen made into very nice pieces at craft shows, but our local store was light on the options. Instead I opted for copper rings in copper and black and picked up a book while I was there on Basic & Advanced Chain Maille (affiliate links–my book is a combo of the two that I linked to) and had some fun making this bracelet.


The instructions for the Japanese 12-in-2 weave comes from the Advanced section, but I really didn’t find it all that hard, to be honest, so don’t be discouraged by that. You can find a lot of weave patterns online, though, and this one is no exception: (12-in-2 instructions via JewleryMakingDaily.com) All I used to put them together was a pair of needlenose pliers and this nifty ring-looking thing called a Jump Ring Opener (affiliate link).


I have a bad habit of ruining my nails whenever I do wire work and I’m happy to report that this little $2 gadget saved my manicure. I slipped it on my right index finger and it made opening and closing the jump rings so much simpler with the needlenose pliers in my left hand. Jump rings are finicky, you see–you can’t just pull them apart, you have to twist them open and then twist them back closed to keep their round shape and their strength. You can do it with two pairs of pliers, but the opener makes it oddles easier. I also found out that if I pressed slighting in as I twisted the rings closed, it narrowed the gap at the break, lessening the likelihood of the rings snagging on clothes or letting their brothers loose.

It’s one of those things you just have to play with to see what I mean.

The bracelet took 6 of the 12-in-2 “flowers” and less than 2 hours to put together, less than 100 larger rings and just over 150 of the smaller (I had to open the second bag but didn’t make much of a dent in it; and I lost some rings when I dropped them and they rolled under furniture–work over something soft and grabby). It’s not very heavy (copper is fairly light, after all, though the aluminum would be like a feather) and makes a pleasant jingly sound when I spin it around my wrist. Which I’ve been doing a lot while I write this post–I’m enjoying my new bracelet.

I certainly won’t be making a chain maille bikini anytime soon (or ever!) but it’s nice to finally try out a skill I’ve been putting off for a while.

Have you learned anything new lately?

Nature Is Your Rock Tumbler: Beach Glass Ring

64 Arts

If there is anything positive in littering (and, really, there isn’t–let’s just make that clear here) it’s that nature can do some amazing things with what she’s given.

Some of my beach glass collection.

Some of my beach glass collection.

Case in point: Sea Glass

What starts off as glass bottles, plates, or other glassware and ends up in the oceans or bays gets tossed and tumbled by waves and sand and a worked on by the salty waters to wash up on shores as beautifully frosted bits and pieces, ready to fuel creative daydreams.

Sea (or beach) glass is getting tougher to find in many areas–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it means there’s less littering going on–but in the scarcity some folks have stepped up to manufacture imitation beach glass for crafters. You can also achieve a similar look by using a frosting or etching medium on whatever glass you like, and even spray paints are out now that will do the trick in a pinch.

If a recent trip through both Crate & Barrel and West Elm is any indication, those frosted blues and greens are going to seen a lot this summer. If you’re not interested in a room makeover, how about adding something new to your jewelry wardrobe instead?


Many years ago, I traded a fellow creative some stuff I had that I didn’t need (I couldn’t even tell you what it was, it’s been so long) for a small box of sea glass. I’ve carried it with me through several moves, always wondering what I might do with it. I think I used a few pieces in my mosaic project a while back, but mostly I just like to run my hands through it and enjoy the frosted finish and water-worn edges.

"dry-fitting" my chosen piece of beach glass on my hand

“dry-fitting” my chosen piece of beach glass on my hand

Except this one particular piece of green sea glass that fits perfectly along the curve of my index finger. That piece I’ve always wanted to turn into a ring.

And today’s the day I do that. Wanna see how?

To make a similar ring you’ll need:

  • Beach or Sea Glass
  • Jewelry Wire
  • Pliers and Wire Cutters
  • Ring Mandrel (optional but useful)
The twisted beginnings of a wire-wrapped ring.

The twisted beginnings of a wire-wrapped ring.

Start with 4 pieces of jewelry wire (I’m using 24G Sterling Silver round wire) about 9 inches long each and sort of weave them together, 2×2, in the center or as close as you can manage.

If you’re using flat or square wire, this might be a smidgen easier, but I’m using what I’ve got in the craft stash, so mine wanted to roll around a lot. To stop the rolling I twisted each pair of ends 1/4- to 1/2-inch or so (not much wider/taller than your beach glass) to lock everything into place and then gently pushed the centers down with my pliers to set them into place.

Centering the wire bundle is relative--you could offset it in any direction, as long as you're comfortable with where the band will end up.

Centering the wire bundle is relative–you could offset it in any direction, as long as you’re comfortable with where the band will end up.

Fit the center of your wires to the center of your glass (more or less) and then fold the top and bottom “arms” over the top and bottom of your glass. If the arms out to each side are twisted beyond the edges of your glass, gently untwist them so that they separate right where the glass ends.

After you separate the top and bottom pairs and move them over to the sides, the back of your ring will look something like this.

After you separate the top and bottom pairs and move them over to the sides, the back of your ring will look something like this.

To secure the glass in place, we’re going to take each wire from the top arm and pull it over to the opposite side, snugging it where the twists stop. Then do the same for the bottom. This really makes it look like some sort of spidery thing from the top, and from the underside of the glass your wires should be forming a diamond shape, locking the corners into the place.

The translucency of the glass makes the wires in the back visible, so try to keep things neat and tidy.

The translucency of the glass makes the wires in the back visible, so try to keep things neat and tidy.

Twist the wires at each side together, 2 at a time and very close to the side of the glass, to secure each corner, then twist all 4 wires of each side together to the ends. It may not look perfect but, hey, neither does the tumbled glass, right? Go with the wonky, tilted, organic swoopy flow of things. Now you have a wrapped piece of beach glass with two twisty arms.

The mandrel makes it easier to snug things up, unlike your finger which could end up pinched!

The mandrel makes it easier to snug things up, unlike your finger which could end up pinched!

Forming the twisted arms into the band is, I admit, one of the more fiddly bits of this process. Start by bending each arm around the finger you plan to wear it on to get the best fit possible. This is where having a ring mandrel comes in handy, by the way, as once you know the size you can use both hands to finish the ring rather than only one. Wrap the end of one arm around the beginning of the other, right where it meets the side of the glass, and crimp well with your pliers. Do the same with the other arm on the other side, trying not to twist the bands together for a gentler fit.

That’s how it’s supposed to go at least–it took me a couple of tries to get this one right but with patience I prevailed. When working with twisted metal wire you have to be careful  not to work the wire too much or it will break on you.

Once finished, slip it on and admire your handiwork!

I think I might just need to wear green tomorrow to have an excuse to wear my new piece of jewelry!


Thanks for your patience while I finished up a rush design order and my posting got a bit spotty. I’ll be doing my best to catch us up to where I wanted to be over the next couple of weeks.