Helpful Hints

These tips are mostly for experienced mail artisans. If you're just looking to get started, check my links page for resources.


Tools

Everyone has their own favorite type of pliers. I won't try to sell you on mine, just try a bunch and see what works best for you. The only important part is to get smooth faces so they don't mar the work. If you want to make your own rings, try jewelers' catalogues. They have good fine toothed saws, and some even have jump ring making kits for mass production. They do tend to be quite expensive, so you'd have to be a big user. These catalogues also tend to have very good pliers for fine detail work. If you plan on doing any mini-mail it's worth checking out. Call some local jewelers and ask them about suppliers, I've found most to be quite helpful.

Construction Notes

The most important factor in how a particular type of ring will behave in a weave, is the ratio between the ring diameter and the wire diameter. (Ratio=Rd/Wd - normally between 3.5 and 6) I keep a log of how various ring ratios work in different weaves. When I get a new size of ring, I check the ratio to see what I can do with it. This also helps when ordering for specific projects. If you want to scale something up or down, you simply make sure the ratios are the same, and you know it will look the same, only smaller (or bigger). This is not really critical unless you are using a wide variety of weaves, some of them require fairly high ratios or they won't work.

-Notes on weaves

The European family is the most commonly done of any mail pattern. I won't say much about it because there is so much available elsewhere. My only advice is don't get stuck doing everything in a plain 4 in 1 pattern. Play! Use the denser weaves for effects, mix colours, be creative. If you have an idea, do it. You just may come up with something that nobody else does. Or even a different method of doing the same thing.
Have fun!

The Oriental family is one of the simplest, but offers the most possibilty for variation. The 4 (square) and 6 (hexagonal) are obvious, with multitudinous variations. Doubled rings, dropped rings, colour changes etc. You can also use oval rings for the linking rings. I've thought about trying an 8 pattern, but the 'diagonals' are longer than the straight links. (1.414 times if you remember your basic trig.) Perhaps if you used a combination of round and oval rings, or perhaps two different sizes of ovals. Hmmm...

Persian Family
I have been trying to find a good way to verbally describe the Persian weave. The Full Persian is just a Kings' Braid with the outside ends tucked in. A Half Persian is that with 1/2 the rings removed, one from each pair. This ends up with two rows of rings, each stacked like a staircase, but perpendicular to each other. (see the Samples to better understand)
There is a direct way to do this, but it is devilishly difficult to explain. It took a demonstration, a lesson, and 15 hours in a car before I could do it consistently.
Half Persians cause some oddities in numbering because you can make a single strand, unlike the European weaves. I'll refer to a Half Persian as having a 3 or 4 link density, because that's how many rings each ring goes through in a single strand. But when you turn that into a Full Persian, or into a sheet of Half Persian, each ring links through 6 or 8. I guess it makes sense if you think of it as half of a weave.
The Double Half Persian is a full Persian with the V's turned to //. It makes sense if you seeit. One of the cool properties of this one is that it only bends one way.
It's a difficult family of weaves to understand, but if I can find a simpler way to explain it, I'll share it with you.

Suppliers

Jewelry suppliers often stock jump rings in base metals. The only problem is that they generally have limited sizes. I don't want to attempt an exaustive list of suppliers, but here's two I've used.

A good American Supplier:
Newall Manufacturing
30 East Adams St.
Chicago, IL60603
312-236-2789 or 800-621-6296

A Canad ian supplier :}
General Findings
80-82 Power St.
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5A 3A7
416-363-5222 or 800-268-4326

To find others, follow some links

Let me know about your experiences, tips, or problems. We can all learn something from one another.


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