Free Chain Maille Jewelry Project: Make Tiny Scale Maille Earrings with Karen Karon
As promised, here’s the tiny scale maille earrings project that Karen designed just for you! Enjoy. And get the back story in part 1 on modifying tools for chain maille if you missed it! –Tammy
In Pursuit of Tiny Scales, Part 2
By Karen Karon
I was so excited when my tiny anodized aluminum scales arrived in the mail. They are ADORABLE! They measure 12mm x 7.6mm, and the hole measures 3mm. The suggested jump ring size to use with the tiny scales is 20 gauge (AWG), 7/64″ inner diameter. The tiny scales are a very new product. As of the writing of this blog, The Ring Lord (TheRingLord.com) is shipping scales from the first test batch. The only color/finish available is frost. Metal Designz (MetalDesignz.com) has them in frost and shiny gold. The tiny scales I received are domed but do not have the ridge down the center like the larger scales. The final version will look just like the larger scales. I can’t wait until they are available in a rainbow of colors.
This is the first time I’ve worked with tiny scales. They are used in the same manner as the larger scales. Because they are small, they are more difficult to handle and see than the larger scales. I used magnification and worked with my modified micro-maille pliers. I found it helpful to have an awl or toothpick nearby for positioning jump rings and scales as I worked. You may want to use tape to help you keep the scales in the proper arrangement as you weave them (blue painter’s tape shown in photos).
I had a lot of fun creating different earring designs. First, I connected scales in overlapping patterns and linear strips. Then I faced them in different directions producing smooth and spiky textures. Finally, I combined them with different maille weaves and beads. There are so many possibilities. I decided on this design for you.
16 tiny scales *
64 small 20g (AWG) 7/64″ ID jump rings *
2 large 16g (SWG) 3/8″ ID jump rings *
sterling silver ear wires
* The scales used here are 12mm x 7.6mm anodized aluminum in frost. The jump rings are anodized aluminum in black ice.
To make these earrings, the scale portion is constructed first (steps 1-7). To stabilize the scales and give the earring a structure for connecting an ear wire, a section of European 4-in-1 chain maille is woven at the top of the scales (steps 8-12). Finally, the large jump ring and ear wire are added to complete the earrings (steps 13-15). The following instructions show the construction of one earring. Repeat the instructions to complete the pair.
To create the staggered overlapping fish scale pattern in this earring design, there is one very important thing to remember. When connecting one scale to another, you must weave the jump ring through the two scales in the opposite direction. In other words, if you weave the jump ring through the first scale moving in through the concave side and out through the convex side, then you will weave it through the second scale moving in through the convex side and out through the concave side (or vice versa).
Work with the concave side of the scales facing you. This will be the back side of the earring. When instructed to add jump rings, weave one jump ring at a time. Close each jump ring added before weaving and closing the next.
Steps for Making Chain Maille Scale Maille Earrings
|1. Open all of your jump rings.
2. Connect 3 scales using 2 small jump rings.
|3. Arrange scales just connected as shown. Two rows of scales completed (first row, bottom, contains 1 scale and second row, top, contains 2 scales).|
|4. Begin the third row of 3 scales by attaching one scale to the previous row of 2 scales using 2 small jump rings. Arrange as shown.|
|5. Complete the third row of 3 scales by attaching 1 scale to each of the scales in the previous row using 2 small jump rings. Arrange as shown. Third row of 3 scales completed.|
|6. Begin the fourth row of 2 scales by attaching 1 scale to the center and right scales of the previous row using 2 small jump rings. Arrange as shown.|
|7. Complete the fourth row of 2 scales by attaching 1 scale to the center and left scales of the previous row using 2 small jump rings. Arrange as shown. Fourth row of scales completed.|
|8. Add 1 small jump ring to the left scale and 1 small jump ring to the right scale in the third row of scales.|
|Top row of 6 small jump rings completed.|
|9. Weave 3 small jump rings through the row of 6 small jump rings completed in the previous step. Each jump ring added is woven through 2 jump rings from the previous row.|
|10. Weave 6 small jump rings through the 3 small jump rings added in the previous step and the 2 scales in the fourth row of scales as shown.|
|11. Weave 5 small jump rings through the row of 6 small jump rings added in the previous step as shown.|
|12. Weave 6 small jump rings through the row of 5 small jump rings just added in the previous step as shown.|
|13. Following the weaving path shown here, weave 1 large jump ring through each of the 6 small jump rings added in the previous step.|
|14. Before closing the large jump ring just added, place the ear wire on the large jump ring. Make sure that the front of the ear wire is aligned with the front of the earring.15. Close the large jump ring to complete the earring.|
I’ve made a couple of slightly different versions of this earring. First, I expanded the length and width of the scale section for a more substantial pair of earrings. Also, I constructed another pair with the concave side of the scales facing front, giving these earrings added texture and altering the way they catch the light. Another way to change the look would be to use jump rings in a different color (and eventually scales in different colors, when they become available).
Want more of Karen’s advanced chain maille and scale maille projects? Get her much-anticipated new book, Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Weaving with Rings and Scale Maille. And if you’re just starting with chain maille, get her five-star-rated first book, Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Techniques and Projects for Weaving with Wire. And don’t miss her new Tiny Scales Earrings kit featured in the October/November 2015 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine!