Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back to my roots

Last week I talked about returning to some of my favorite things, so this week I actually treated myself to a week of chainmaille. These bracelets are as back-to-basics as I can get -- European 4-in-1, the quintessential chainmalle of all.

The bracelet on the left is 22g, 2.5mm sterling rings with a commercial ring/hook clasp that I embellished with 15g iridescent beads. This is probably my favorite size and type of maille to make and to wear. It is as supple as a silk ribbon to wear.

The bracelet on the right is the same exact weave done in 18g 3.5mm sterling. I used a magnetized sterling slide clasp. The heavier weight and more tailored clasp make for a unisex cuff. I hope this will be something that is attractive to buyers.

Another little thing I tried this week was to time myself when making maille. I learned that I can close 100 rings in about 20 minutes. This is the preliminary step for European, so I have to add that time to the time it takes me once I start actually making the chain if I want a fair estimate of my labor time. I also measured the time it takes to build the rows, and learned that I can make 20 to 25 double rows (2 plus 3) in 15 minutes. That means that the weaving, not counting closing rings ahead, for the larger bracelet took about 1 hour 15 minutes, and the smaller weave took more like 1 hour 30-45 minutes. Add half an hour or 45 minutes to each for closing rings, and it takes between 2 and 3 hours to make a bracelet like one of these. A neck chain would take between 6 and 10 hours. Now, the clasp is not included in that time estimate. If I use a commercial clasp it takes just a minute or two, if I make something special it obviously takes longer. This exercise was great for me since it gives me a much better perspective on pricing. Oddly, I have no idea whether it means that I am quick or slow to make chain.

As usual, Augie coiled and cut the rings for me. I couldn't afford to make the tiny maille if I had to buy the rings precut, as the going price for them is over $50/oz. I do add a labor cost to the cost of the wire when I use it as rings, but in practice, we have more time than money at our house so it makes sense to pay something less than $20/oz for the wire from Monsterslayer and cut them as we need them. I think of it as a value-added feature for us, and Augie says he enjoys cutting the rings, so it's all good.

Thanks for looking, and of course your comments and critiques are welcome.

p.s. Would you be interested in non-jewelry posts here during this week? I have some recipes and other things I have written that I think I'll post. Stay tuned :-)

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