Personalize a Chain Maille Bracelet
It's All About Family
One of the joys of giving handmade jewelry is the ability to create something unique for one particular person–something that you can't just go buy in a cookie-cutter mall. The Dear to My Heart bracelet by Jean Yates is made for personalizing–just change out the birthstone colors and letter charms. This would make a great gift for a mother or grandmother, using the birthstone colors and initials of the children or grandchildren. (Mother's Day is about two months away!)
The designer, Jean Yates, is all about family–she's the mother of five sons and has what she described as a "seriously complex home life." Her family, including her own childhood memories, inspire much of her work. Recently, I had a chance to talk to Jean and learn more about her design inspiration, plus her secrets on finding the best beads in the universe and what every blogger needs to know. Find out why I think this designer is "all that and a bag of chips"–read the interview.
A Note about Chain Maille
Never attempted chain maille before? It might look intimidating, but some people find this technique easier than creating wrapped loops or other "simple" wireworking techniques. If you can open and close jump rings, you can do chain maille! This bracelet uses the flower pattern, one of the easier patterns to learn. (If you already know chain maille, I'd love to hear what you think! Do you agree it's easy? Can a beginner do it?)
Free Project: Dear to My Heart by Jean Yates
Chain maille does take patience, but you might find the repetitive aspect quite relaxing and be surprised at how time will sprint along once you get started. One bonus if you're making this bracelet as a gift: it's easy to adjust the size of the bracelet by adding or removing flower links at the last minute.
Jean's Design Tips & Ideas for the "Dear to My Heart" Bracelet
- Pick a sturdy clasp. Try to choose one where the holes on the sides are large enough to accommodate two sets of jump rings through each hole. You don't want your bracelet to pull apart at the clasp.
- Make the flowers for the bracelet on a little tray or plate in your lap. It's a good idea to place a cloth on top so that the flowers don't slide around.
- For baby boy and baby girl colors, if the mother doesn't like the birthstone, I suggest light aqua or rose Venetian lampwork beads as a great alternative. You can get them anywhere: I use a small size like 8mm. As rose quartz is the stone of love, I have made many boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife double stranded bracelets with rose quartz and clear Swarovski crystals. Those are stunning and so feminine. I use the cube type letter beads for these bracelets, and you must use saucer shape or round beads between the cubes. Check the size of your letters –then order the proper size saucer or round beads–they can be a tiny bit larger.
- For long names: Center the name if possible and include at least one birthstone on each end.
- For two names on one strand: Put a Swarovski crystal in the middle, and use an even number of crystals on either sides of the two names, even if the names you are working with are not the same length.
- Instead of two names, use initials instead. Most people have three initials. If this is not the case, try persuading them to change their names! It's worth a shot!
Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please share them on the website. Thanks!