Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Review: Link It!

Nachtmusik available at You've Got Maille

I got some really nice books for Christmas, and it occurred to me that it might be nice to do reviews on books and tools from time to time. So here's my first one.

Link It!: Colorful Chainmaille Jewelry with Rubber O-Rings is definitely unique. I'm not entirely sure we can still call this "chainmaille" ... it seems more like rubber weaving to me.

My first project was the above bracelet. I'm used to making things like European 4-in-1 braclets with EPDM rings. These are made with neoprene, and they are woven so tightly that what you end up with doesn't really stretch all that much. And they're... chunky. That said, the bracelet above is growing on me. I LOVE the little white dogwood blossoms on the black. It definitely photographed well. Why is it my most favorite stuff never photographs well?

But I was reviewing. If you've got a little experience with jewelry, and enough brains to open and close a jump ring correctly and follow a tutorial, you can make this stuff. The instructions on the basics are easy to follow, and the individual projects are very clear and well illustrated, with a few exceptions (connect what to what...?) If you've been mailling for a while now and are bored with the same dozen weaves, this is good for you, too. There's no run-of-the-mill weave in here.

My favorite thing about the book is that the author encourages you to play (she's an art teacher.. wish my art teacher was that cool). And the different sized neoprene rings are certainly good for that. Do your own colors (some of hers are... a bit much for me). Add different beads. My intent: I want to play with sizes and try to come up with something a little more delicate, since I personally don't wear much that's over an inch thick on my wrist. And I'll probably be adding those little acrylic flowers to everything, I really like them :)

I absolutely recommend (and it's not listed in the book anywhere, unfortunately) that you get your rings from Blue Buddha Boutique. Not only does she have all of the rings you need for the projects, she's about on par with Fire Mountain Gems on the Oh rings price-wise (unless you're buying TONS from FMG), and she has this fantastic, handy-dandy chart with exactly how many of what size rings you need for each project, both neoprene and aluminum. Plus, her site is organized neatly and absolutely clear on which size rings you need, whereas FMGs is scattered and confusing. You'll only need to buy your beads and embellishments elsewhere (recommended: Artbeads and Fusion Beads; both have wholesale prices, free shipping, good variety). Plan on dropping around $30 to make your first project; you'll have rings left over for others but you'll need an average of 4 colors/sizes of neoprene, plus aluminum (which you might have on hand if you're a mailler), and any beads. I'll be making stuff in black and white for a while.

When you do make these projects, if you've been making stretchies in traditional chainmaille weaves, resist the temptation to make these to stretch over your hand. There's not that much play in the thick, woven rubber, so it should be made more like a bangle than a stretchy. That said, it does stretch some.

I definitely intend to try out a few more of these. I tried a second bracelet and did not like it at all, but it was more personal taste than anything. And I will be experimenting with these techniques. If you like the look of woven rubber, go for it. Available at Amazon, Blue Buddha's site, and C&T Designs.

Rating out of 5: 4 Links.