Chain Maille How-To: Make Charlene Anderson’s Embellished Barrel Weave Necklace and Earrings

I may not know chain maille, but I know who knows chain maille! Enjoy this pretty summery project from Charlene Anderson, a chain-maille jewelry expert who was the 2010 artist of the year for Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. 

Isle of Capri Embellished Barrel Weave Necklace and Earrings
by Charlene Anderson (originally published in Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine, June/July 2010)

 

This necklace and earring set showcases sterling rings combined with Magatama beads in a shade of blue-green (reminiscent of the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri), which add a touch of color to this set. Capri's Blue Grotto is known throughout the world for its size, the intense blue tones of its interior, and the magical silvery light which emanates from the objects immersed in its waters.

The beautiful blue coloring of the Grotta Azzurra is created by the daylight which enters via an underwater opening located immediately below the entrance to the cave. The light is filtered by the water which absorbs the red tones, leaving only the blue ones to pass into the cave.

Barrel Weave may not be as well known as Byzantine or Jens Pind Linkage, but it is a lovely weave, fun to make, and its structure allows for an infinite variety of ring combinations and bead embellishments. Barrel weave looks great in mixed metals, as well as mixed ring profiles (square, round, twisted, diamond, etc.). Adding beads or charms to Barrel weave gives a whole new dimension and movement to what is a very structured weave.

Barrel Weave works best with an aspect ratio of about 3.5 to 4.7. This wide range of aspect ratio is related to the number of connectors you use between the units. There are two main variations of Barrel Weave: the first uses two connector rings between the units. Connector rings are the ones added in Steps 4-5. The other variation uses one connector between the units. The difference in the look is subtle, and the projects in this article show pieces made in both ways. If you are working with a ring on the smaller end of the suggested aspect ratio, just omit Step 5.

The step photos show Barrel Weave using two connectors so you can see exactly where the second one goes in Step 5. The Isle of Capri pieces featured in this article use one connector, so if you want to recreate the pieces exactly, omit Step 5.

Materials:

18-gauge 11/64" (4.4mm) ID (G18)
300-350 sterling silver jump rings
two pairs flat- or chain-nose pliers
clasp of your choice
10-gram pkg Magatama beads, size 4
2 sterling silver ear wires
tumbler and shot (optional)

Steps:

1. Put two closed rings onto one open ring. Close the open ring. Add a new open ring through the same path as the first. You now have a 2-in-2 chain.

2. Offset the pair of rings not attached to the twist tie so that you have created enough space to insert a new ring in between the offset rings. Add an open ring through this path, and close it. Double up the ring you just added.

 

3. Using a new ring, put two closed rings on the new ring. Do not close this ring.

4. Insert the open ring into the tiny opening made by the offset rings. Once you get it through, close the ring. You will be going through four rings: the two you placed on the new ring, plus the two offset rings.

5. Optional: Double up the ring you just added. These last two rings will act like the rings you offset in Step 2. When spreading the rings apart, make sure you keep the same ring on top as in Step 2. Repeat Steps 2-4 until the piece is the desired length, less the length of the clasp.

6. To finish the weave, add two more rings when you have finished Step 2. Don't add any loose rings to this final pair. You'll attach the clasp here.

7. Place one bead on an open jump ring, and attach it to one of the outside rings of the weave. Continue across the necklace, adding one bead on a ring at each outside ring (along the same edge) on the necklace.

8. Attach each half of the clasp by using one ring on each side of the necklace.

 

To make the earrings: Weave the earrings in the same manner as the necklace. When the  earring is the desired length, add a single jump ring through the two rings at each end. Tumble. Add the ear wire through the single ring at one end of the earring, and a bead through the single ring at the other end. 

If you're a fan of chain maille jewelry or any other wire jewelry-making techniques, subscribe to Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine for a steady stream of inspiring wire jewelry projects from the industry's top designers!

Resources:
sterling silver jump rings: BlueBuddhaBoutique.com
pliers and ear wires: CharAnderson.com
clasp: AGrainofSand.com
Magatama beads (item 507-1312): Beadalon.com

Try these variations:

1. Bracelet in 16g (0.220" ID, approx 7/32"/5.59mm) square stainless steel for Byzantine from C&T Designs; clasp from the author at CharAnderson.com. This project uses one connector ring between the units.

2. Earrings in 16g 4.5mm sterling from UrbanMaille.com; ear wires available from the author; two pieces of drilled beach glass from The Deep Blue. This project uses one connector ring between the units.

3. Shoulder Duster Earrings in 18g 3.5mm rainbow niobium and matching ear wires from C&T Designs. This project uses one connector ring between the units.

4. Bracelets in 18g (0.223", approx. 15/64" 5.66mm) square copper and red brass for Jens Pind Linkage 5 from C&T Designs; clasps from the author. The positions of the red brass and copper are juxtaposed in the two bracelets. This project uses two connector rings between the units.

5. Bracelet in I18 (18 swg, 13/64", 5.2mm) aluminum with E18 (18 swg 9/64", 3.6mm) aluminum at clasp connection points from BlueBuddhaBoutique.com; clasp available from the author. This project uses two connector rings between the units.

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