May - June - July - Aug                 2008 Aspect Ratio Weave Diagram Summer Classes Newest Supplies

Happy Spring, fellow chainmaillers! The dust has settled from Tucson, and so of course that means it's time to get ready for the Bead&Button show. In addition to classes (see below), this year, we'll have a booth with jump rings and other supplies. We hope to meet some of you there.

I'm thrilled to tell you that I'm writing a book! I'm just getting started but I already know exactly how I want to structure everything and which weaves I want to include. There will definitely be some never-before-seen Rebeca weaves in this one. (What's a Rebeca weave? Well, students who have been with me for years know that I tend to gravitate toward intricate weaves that use a jillion sizes! So, um, yeah, expect one or two forays into some insane patterns.) Overall, the book will appeal to both beginners and advanced students, and will show you how you can take a very basic weave and vary it in different ways to create completely new looks. I can't wait until it's finished! In the meantime, though, if you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see in the book (or something you don't want to see, please let me know. There's still time for me to make adjustments based on your suggestions. After all, I'm writing the book for you!

Until next time, much happy mailling to you all!       —Rebeca

Aspect Ratio (A Quick Introduction)

I've been meaning to update my FAQ article on Aspect Ratio for a few years now. Instead, I've decided to dedicate several pages of my first or second book to this topic. In the meantime, though, I'll try to explain some of the main concepts in the next few issues of this newsletter.

If you're a serious mailler, you will want to understand Aspect Ratio because it will make choosing rings much easier. Instead of blindly trying different ring sizes, you can mathematically calculate which rings should work best for the weave. I'll go into that more next issue. For now, I just want you to get an idea of what exactly Aspect ratio is.

Did you know that Aspect Ratio is widely used in many industries? For example, in film, Aspect Ratio defines the relationship between the width of the image and its height. (Precisely speaking, it is width ÷ height.) You probably noticed that newer television screens are not as square as they used to be. Instead, they are rectangular, in order to more closely match the AR of "widescreen" film images.

Aspect Ratio is also used to describe a variety of other items, such as paper size, tires, aircraft wings and computer monitors. And, of course, jump rings.
 In chainmaille, Aspect Ratio is a number that represents the relationship between the wire gauge and the inner diameter of a particular size jump ring. The exact formula to calculate aspect ratio is: inner diameter ÷ by wire diameter or in shorthand: ID ÷ WD = AR Note that the formula is wire diameter and not wire gauge. This is because different metals use different gauges, and so "16 (gauge)" is not as precise as "1.6 mm." It is important to convert the gauge to either millimeters or inches (to match the measurement system used for the ring's ID). Tip: Find out more about ring sizes and gauges in the Ring Sizes FAQ article, or check out the gauge conversion chart on Venom's chainmaille site.
 If you have rings on hand, it is always best to measure the diameters with calipers. Why? Well, a ring wrapped around a 4.0 mm mandrel will very rarely have an actual inner diameter of 4.0 mm. This is because the wire resists being coiled, and so it "springs back" a bit, instead of hugging the mandrel tightly. Softer metals like copper have less springback; if wrapped around a 4.0 mm mandrel, they might be 4.05 - 4.15 mm. Stronger metals such as stainless and titanium have higher springback, and may be 4.2 - 4.4 mm.

Upcoming issues will contain more info about measuring Aspect Ratio, and what to do if you don't have calipers. For now, let's get a big picture idea of what AR is good for. To help explain, let's take a look at our good friends, Shower Curtain Ring and Bagel. Even though Bagel is bigger, his AR is not bigger than S.C.R.

 Shower Curtain Ring Bagel High Aspect Ratio AR = 9.92 Inner Diameter = 51.6 mm "wire" diameter = 5.2 mm Many weaves are possible, BUT most will not look good (they will be too loose). These are weaker rings compared with Low AR rings of the same gauge/metal/temper. Rings tend to close with one side a bit higher than the other. May require extra wiggling and tweaking to get nice closures. Low Aspect Ratio AR = 0.83 Inner Diameter = 33.1 mm "wire" diameter = 40.1 mm Few weaves are possible with a low AR, because the inner diameter hole doesn't allow very many rings to pass through it.* These are stronger rings compared with High AR rings of the same gauge/metal/temper. Can be hard to close because ring gives more resistance. *In the extreme case of Bagel, no weaves are possible, because the inner diameter is smaller than the gauge—you can't interlock even a single bagel through the center!

To see exactly how the AR of a ring affects a weave, let's look at European 4-in-1 (Mesh) in Aluminum. I consider this a forgiving weave, because it looks good with many different ARs.

 E18AR = 3.3 F18AR = 3.6 G18AR = 4.0 H18AR = 4.4 I18AR = 4.6 J18AR = 5.1

Notice how as the AR gets larger, the weave gets looser and looser. Though it's possible to make Euro 4-1 with rings larger than J18, I don't recommend it, because the weave loses its shape and is very weak.

My favorite AR for European 4-1 is about 4.2. This means my favorite sizes in aluminum are G18 or H18. (However, if I'm going for a more snug look, like when I make an inlay, I prefer lower ARs like F18. On the other hand, when I'm teaching, I often prefer higher ARs to make it easier for students to learn.)

Practice Exercise
Let's say I have two customers who are looking at my 18g samples. Customer A loves the look of H18 and would like me to design a steel bracelet in the same weave. But, she wants a more delicate look and would like the rings to be smaller. Customer B likes the look of F18, but he wants a thicker piece, in sterling silver.

Any ideas on how to tackle this? Think about it for a minute before reading ahead.

Customer A: She wants the rings to be smaller. So, that could mean make the inner diameter smaller (E18 is certainly a "smaller" ring than H18.) However, as you can see from the photos, just changing the ID changes the entire look of the weave. What we want to do is take an H18 ring and shrink it. It's like putting the ring on a copier and hitting the Reduce button.

Because the entire ring needs to get smaller to create a more delicate look, we definitely need to use a smaller wire gauge. Let's go with 20g. Since I've calculated the ARs of many of my rings, figuring out which ring to use is going to be fairly straightforward. Here is a list of ARs from the base metal stats page:
B20 stainless steel = 3.1
C20 stainless steel = 3.6
D20 stainless steel = 4.1
E20 stainless steel = 4.6
F20 stainless steel = 5.2

Because the customer likes H18, the target AR is 4.2. The closest is D20, with an AR of 4.1. So, I'll use D20 stainless steel rings to create a smaller version of the mesh H18 Aluminum weave. Both the ID and the WD have been reduced—once again, think of putting the H18 on a copier and hitting the Reduce button.

Customer B: He wants the rings to be larger. Just like before, we know that we can't just make the inner diameter larger, since that would only create an ugly, floppy weave. This time, we need to put the ring on the copier and hit the Enlarge button. We know we need to use a thicker wire gauge. Let's go with 16g silver, which is 1.3 mm (compared with 1.15 mm for 18g aluminum). Even though silver runs on a different wire gauge system than aluminum, it doesn't matter! That's the beauty of AR—we just have to look at the ARs of the rings to know what will work. The ARs for some of Blue Buddha's 16g rings from the sterling stats page :
F16 silver= 3.2
G16 silver= 3.5
H16 silver = 3.8
I16 silver = 4.3
J16 silver = 4.7

Since he likes F18, the target AR is 3.6. The closest is G16, with an AR of 3.5. So, I'll use G16 sterling silver rings to create a larger version of the snug mesh F18 Aluminum weave.

Is your head swimming? If so, just take a few moments to re-read the article. Come back to it in a few days and read it again. This is just a small piece of the Aspect Ratio pie, but I think it's important to have a big picture understanding, before setting up all sorts of mathematical proportions and whipping out the calipers.

As promised, next issue will have more information on Aspect Ratio. In the meantime, you can access the ARs we've calculated so far in the supplies section, either for base metal or sterling silver. This will allow you to solve dilemnas like those discussed in the practice section.

If you are looking for suggested ARs for particular weaves, I refer you to Zlosk's Aspect Ratio Table, which is quite comprehensive.

Weave Variation - Celtic Dawn

This variation of Helm Chain looks like Celtic Visions. Rebeca and then-intern Dawn developed this weave in the spring of 2007. The first variation they came up with is shown below, labled "Not Celtic Dawn". It didn't quite sit right (the edging rings kept popping out of place), so they adjusted the edging slightly and came up with a striking weave.

 Not Celtic Dawn Celtic Dawn Ring Sizesbase metal & silver

Prerequisite: Helm Chain (Parallel)
Aluminum Ring Sizes: H18 (18g 3/16" / 3.6 mm) with N18 (18g 9/32" / 7.1 mm) for Helm Chain,
D18 (18g 1/8" / 3.2 mm) with E18 (18g 9/64" / 3.6 mm) and F18 (18g 5/32" / 4.0 mm) for edging.
We believe this weave would work well in jewelry brass and bronze, though we haven't tried it. Due to the softness of copper, you should use O18 instead of N18 for the Helm Chain. The copper version can kink up ever-so-slightly, but still works.
Rings per inch (and for 7.5" of material): H18 x 6 (45), N18 x 7 (53), D18 x 9 (68), E18 x 5 (38), F18 x 5 (38)

Sterling Silver Ring Sizes: H17 (17g 3/16" / 3.6 mm) with N16 (16g 9/32" / 7.1 mm) for Helm Chain,
D17 (17g 1/8" / 3.2 mm) with F18 (18g 5/32" / 4.0 mm) and F16 (16g 5/32" / 4.0 mm) for edging.
Rings per inch (and for 7.5" of material): H17 x 6 (45), N16 x 7 (53), D17 x 9 (68), F18 x 5 (38), F16 x 5 (38)

1. To start, weave a length of Helm Chain as long as you'd like your final piece to be.

Use N18 and H18 in base metal (except if you're using copper—you should use size O18 for the weave to work). In sterling, use N16 and H17. These rings are shown in green and dark blue in the colorful diagram at the very beginning of this article.

To finish the ends, your final set of doubled rings should actually be the smaller size (H) instead of the large size. You can attach your clasp directly to those rings.

2. Next add small rings (D18 base metal / D17 Silver) to the large, single rings of Helm Chain. You'll add 2 small rings on each side of the ring, for a total of 4 added to each ring. These rings are shown in light orange in the colorful diagram at the beginning.

TIP: These rings may slide around and wind up sticking inside of the large doubled rings from step 1. In order to keep them from getting out of hand, you may prefer to work in small sections: concentrate on the first inch or so of your weave, and add the rings for step 2 and 3. Then join these rings immediately (shown in step 4), and repeat for the next inch of the weave.

3. Now add more not-quite-as-small (E18 base metal / F18 silver) to the doubled sets of large rings. This time, just add 1 small ring on each side, for a total of 2 added to each set of doubled rings. These rings are shown in violet in the diagram at top.

 4. Next take a new open ring (F18 base metal / F16 silver) and go through 3 rings. The middle ring you go through will be the single ring that is on the doubled ring (the one you just added in step 3). You'll also pick up the 2 small rings on either side of that middle ring. Close the ring after you've gone through all 3 rings. These rings are shown in red in the colorful diagram.

5. Repeat on the other side of the weave to have your first Celtic Dawn unit.

6. Move on to the next availble hanging rings

7. Repeat to the end.

 base metal sample sterling silver sterling silver sample

Summer Classes
We've updated the class calendar for May, June and some of July. These include Vanessa's classes at the Discovery Center, a new teaching location for Blue Buddha Boutique!

 at Discovery Center at Briolette and Caravan at Caravan at LillStreet at Blue Buddha Boutique

Contact the specific store or gallery for a schedule or to register for a class.

The countdown has begun! In June, Rebeca teaches three classes at the Bead&Button Show in Milwaukee, WI. She hopes to see some of you there!

Spring and summer will be especially colorful for us, as we are going to begin carrying anodized niobium rings and enameled copper. We're also going to have new tools, findings and a chainmaille book, Chains by Becky.

Additionally, we now offer some findings, like earring pieces, in bulk packs of 144 (1 gross). You save a substantial amount of money by purchasing in bulk. If there's enough interest, we may do other things in bulk. Let us know what you'd like.

Other recent additions to the Supplies section:
 Beadsmith Pliers Economy ergonomic pliers. Wubbers Pliers A variety of pliers designed specifically for chainmaillers and wire-workers. Gold-color Pendant Bails A new larger size of base metal pendant bails (the large nickel version will be available shortly.) Sterling Silver Toggle A new handcrafted toggle. We'll be adding a few more styles in the months to come.

Feel free to contact Rebeca as always with questions or comments.
local: 773.478.3767     toll free: 866.602.RING (7464)     rebeca@bluebuddhaboutique.com

Happy Weaving!

All content written by Rebeca Mojica, Blue Buddha Boutique artist & owner.