I never really made much jewelry before I learned how to make chainmail in college. With learning to make chainmail, the basic pattern most people learn is the European four-in-one. If you are picturing chainmail in your mind right now, you are probably imagining European four-in-one. By itself it isn't really that interesting or attractive, but it is easy to make and easy to vamp up with a little bit of details. This necklace below is made using European four-in-one and some frills. You can see that the main choker base has four pink rings in every black ring (hence the name of the pattern). Then I just expanded it a little at the front and added the metal scales and pink chain for a little something extra. If I remember correctly, I donated this necklace to my college's medieval group and it was purchased by my friend Melanie (who I had previously made a choker for by special order from her now fiance). I guess Mel just likes my style! :-)
In college I was a bit addicted to making chainmail, jewelry or otherwise. I liked watching the pieces come together in front of me. It got so bad that at one point I actually gave my pliers to my good friend and roommate at the time, Claire, and asked her to hide them from me. We were having exams at the time and instead of studying I kept getting distracted and making more chainmail.
The more I learned to make chainmail jewelry, the more I discovered that the difference between a meh piece and a wow piece is really all in the details. For a lot of projects I think I might have overdone the colors or the added frills. But at right is probably one of my favorite pieces I ever made. The pattern itself is a variation on the European four-in-one called the rosette by some, but by just adding small beads on certain rings, it adds just enough detail to make it more interesting and eye-catching. Some chainmail jewelry looks too much like chainmail and not enough like jewelry for my taste. This one, however, I love.
Making jewelry turned into a bit of a game of "if this, then what"? for me. Since I knew how to add clasps and chains and earring hooks to a project (kind of the essential step between making just a "something" and making a jewelry piece), I could get more creative with what I attached my clasps, etc, to. The bracelet below is actually made of old capacitors that my grandfather gave to me. I mostly just made it to see if I could and how it would look, but it ended up being one of only two things I sold from my short stint as an Etsy shop owner.
I've also made a bit of a reputation for myself for jewelry repair. I think it really started while I was in China. I had made some pieces for coworkers of mine (including the rosette bracelet above and the red and black beaded bracelet below), when someone asked if I could fix a broken necklace. I said I could without even really thinking about it...I hadn't tried to repair jewelry before, but it made sense to me that if I could make jewelry I could fix jewelry. Essentially the same process, right? Well, I was right and for the rest of my time in China I became the go-to-girl for jewelry fixes.
I don't think most people realize how easy it is to make and/or fix jewelry. Some of the things I do, like improv or knitting I know can be difficult but I don't really give a second thought to, but I know that's because I do it so often. But to me basic jewelry making seems rather simple, something that anyone could do if they just tried it. This bracelet here was just beads threaded on wire and attached to a clasp...easy as pie (or much easier than pie, actually). It seems mostly just about having the desire, the right tools and a little bit of patience, which I suppose are the main reasons why not everyone does it.