Thursday, November 20, 2014

There are No Afterthoughts in Good JewelryDesign !

by Staci Louise Smith

Those of us who make jewelry, especially those of us who use beads and gems, I know we can get caught up in the fun of the BEADS!  The colors, the textures, the flow- GAH!

For me, that is absolutely my favorite part.  Designing the layout of a piece and fondling, I mean, playing with, I mean, laying out the beads is where I would like to stop sometimes.

But we can't.  We cannot spend all that time, all that energy creating a wonderful piece, and then throw it on some cheap, un-attractive chain.  Chain, cannot, and should not, be an afterthought.

Now, this rule can apply to clasps too, as well as many other things.  Today, we discuss chain.

I am a stickler about chain in jewelry.  I think the right chain can either make or break a piece.  I think it has to be the right thickness or daintiness to accentuate your piece just so.  I also think, that once you find some chains you LOVE, they will not become an afterthought, but you will find joy in using them in your work, all most as much as the beads.

One artist whom always has fun new chains is Lorelei Eurto.  She uses chain as part of her designs almost all the time.

Here is one of her latest designs featuring a few different chains to keep it interesting!

I also LOVE the choice of rosary chain that our own Karen McGovern used to create these awesome sugar skulls.  This was definitely part of the plan for her piece.
Of course, if you are into a lot of work and torture (I kid....sort of) you can make your own chain.  It is really the best way to be sure it compliments your work, but it takes time, and tools and patience.  Here is one that I made (I didn't make too many 'cause I know the torture of  

Another person who has made awesome chain to accentuate her work is Nikki Z. of Love Root.

Here is a gorgeous all chain necklace (that I heard she is keeping for herself- and trust me, when you have made chain, and you can't charge a million $$$ for it, you want to keep it!)  

And here is that same design of chain used to accentuate a piece made with her own handmade beads!  See?  The chain can really make a piece!!!  Don't skimp on it!

Now, not everyone has the set up (or desire) to make their own chain.  So we are forced to shop for it.  So, what do you look for?

One thing to consider when picking out chain, is how sturdy it is.  I have had too many chains that could be pulled apart by hand- and to me, that is just not acceptable.

Sometimes I prefer my chain to be soldered links, but at times, if it is REALLY strong and well made, I like the open links.  
My favorite place for open link chain is

I use their more substantial chains, since my designs are substantial.  At first I was hesitant to try them, because they are open links, and in the past, these have come apart too easily.  I have not found this to be the case here- AT ALL.  I have to open them deliberately for them to come apart.  Why I like this???  Well, I can attach things by opening the links like jump rings- I can adjust the length of things the same way too.  I can even use the links themselves as jump rings!  Plus, their antique brass chains are plated over brass, so, I like the fact it is not some mystery base metal underneath.

Now- for my fanciest stuff i like to use a solid brass chain, and I cannot say enough good things about 

Not only do they have handmade solid brass chain, but the chain is as simple or as fancy as you can get!  If you have a design, they have a chain to match it!

I hope you will embrace and enjoy creating your pieces from start to finish.  And if chain is not what is right for your piece, then by all means, use leather, or fabric, or whatever it needs.  Just make sure its a deliberate thought.  After all, you put all that time and effort into a piece, make sure its wrapped up in a manner that will only make it more amazing!


Malin de Koning said...

Thanks for a great post!

TesoriTrovati said...

Agreed! I love to use chain and have become a chain junkie. My favorite finds are vintage. I love to find old stock that is not even produced anymore but that makes me hoard it all the more! I want to make something completely worthy of my last of the steel rollo chain or the aluminum tube bead chains or the tiny brass disc chain! Thanks for sharing the great links, and Nikki's chain is to die for! I would definitely keep that one in my private stash! Enjoy the day. Erin

Nikki said...

I couldn't agree more! Nothing makes me cranky like spending a ton of time getting the beaded/focal parts of a necklace JUST RIGHT and then realizing I don't have the perfect quality chain to go with it. That's why I end up making my own chain sometimes, because nothing else quite feels right. Cheap chain is immediately noticeable. THANK YOU so much for including me in this post! :)

Karen McGovern said...

Great post Staci! I agree with you 100%. A good chain can make a design truly spectacular. I get mine from the same links you've posted here, and especially love the brass from Rishashay. I have just begun making my own chain, and yes it can be time consuming and a total nightmare, but it's also completely worth the effort!

Karen McGovern said...

another great source for chain is Nunn Design, Their chain is substantial, comes in a variety of finishes, and is incredibly good quality. Also the prices are great! Please check them out!

Lorelei Eurto said...

Great post!!
I feel like chain is one of them most versatile components to use in jewelry making!
I like to stock up from my favorite online seller,

Carol Dekle said...

Thank you for the resources Staci! I purchase chain from Rings & things but have never heard of Rishashay. I was just checking out their selections and will consider them for my next purchase! I agree there is nothing like making your own chain. Nikki is a great example of that because when you see her work you know automatically who made it. Awesome post!

stregajewellry said...

I never realized how important chain could be until I bought Cindy Wimmer's book, Missing Link. I started making my own chain links and now will not think of making a piece without first checking my "link" library. Yes, I still use commercial chain and thanks for the links to unique chain, but, seriously, it's not that hard to make your own links. I constantly look for interesting links to see if I can reproduce them on my own. Once you are comfortable with wire work, chain is so simple. You just have to get in the mood, take one night, sit down and make different links.

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