updated 28 Jul 2013, 00:35
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Sun, Jul 21, 2013
The Straits Times
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Link the rings
by Lydia Vasko

Make intricate earrings with chainmaille, a technique of linking rings developed around 300BC by the ancient Celts to make armour.

Jewellery designer Carol Raeburn, 41, started making chainmaille jewellery three years ago.

She advises beginners to start with rings no smaller than 4.88mm in diameter.

Practise opening and closing the rings, she adds, "until you get the hang of it".

"It is the hardest part."

What you need

2 pairs of flat-nose Spliers

1 jar of Tool Magic

Aluminium jump rings in two colours of your choice. Ms Raeburn used 20 red and 29 orange ones.

1 bail ring, if you are making a necklace pendant

1 necklace chain in your preferred length (optional)

2 ear wires (earring hooks)

What to do

To protect the colour of the rings from being rubbed off by the pliers, dip your pliers in Tool Magic, a rubber coating available at beading stores.

Let it dry before you start working.

Start by closing 12 orange rings. Hold the ring with both pliers so that the opening is between the pliers' tips (above). Wiggle the pliers, pulling your right plier back towards you and pushing your left plier forwards until the gap in the rings closes and there is no visible break in the ring.

Open rings in the same way: Slowly wiggle the ring open, in a front to back motion.

Do not open the ring outwards by pulling one end to the left and the other to the right as this will break or distort the rings.

To start the design, grip an open orange ring with one set of pliers. Place two closed orange rings onto the ring, then close it.

Grip another open orange ring with your pliers and put it through the two closed rings that have just been added. Add two more closed orange rings to the open ring, then close it.

Put a single open orange ring through the two closed rings which were just added. Close that single ring too. In this way, you are adding rings to create a chain in a one-two ring pattern. The chain is finished when all of the closed rings are used up and both ends of the chains end with single closed rings.

Lay the chain down, so that the two ring links on the chain are clearly visible and the top rings are facing upwards (angled towards you, creating space between the top of the ring and the work surface, above). Link an open orange ring through the first and second single rings, then close it.

Link another open orange ring through the second and third rings, then close it. Continue adding open orange rings to the third and fourth rings, and to the fourth and fifth rings, until you have reached the end of the chain. Make sure five rings have been added.

Flip the chain over and repeat the process: link and close orange rings through the first and second, second and third rings, and so forth, until the end of the chain. This process is difficult at first, but as the chain grows, adding more links gets easier. By the end of this row, all of the orange rings should be added.

Flip the chain over. Make sure the top rings are facing upwards. Add an open red ring to the chain, linking the first and second rings. Close the ring. Repeat to link the second and third rings, then third and fourth. Do so till the end of the chain, a total of four rings, closing each ring as it is added.

Flip the chain and add four red rings to the opposite side.

Once done, flip the chain over again and add three red rings to the top level of chain. Once completed, turn over the chain and add three red rings, using the same linking method as above, to the top rings.

Keep adding red rings to each side of the chain, adding one fewer ring to each new row, completing the pattern when you have added one ring to each side of the chain.

Once you have created your shape, attach it to the bail ring. Open one of the rings at the end of the pattern. Link it through the bail ring, then close it. String a chain through the bail ring to use your chainmaille piece as a pendant.

If you want to use it as an earring, open one of the rings at the end of the pattern and link it through the hoop at the end of the ear wire.

Close the ring.

Repeat the entire process to make another earring for a matched set.

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