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Jewellery Making Techniques Used


Viking knit Technique

There are small variations in techniques between wire knitters as each person develops their own style to weave Viking knit chains. I hand knit (or weave) the wire around a mandrel ¹, in a technique of making loops by threading the wire behind loops from the previous row to form a ribbed cord. A similar cord can be knitted with the thinner gauge wires using a spool or "Wyr Knitter"™ . The cord can then be drawn down through successively smaller holes in a drawplate ² until it becomes cord chain which looks like a knitted fabric. The chains are usually then finished with end caps or cones with a wire loop for the clasp to be attached.

My wire knitting technique began from a Viking knit tutorial, and has been refined by transferring techniques learned from years of knitting with wool. From all of this experience, I am able to create pieces finished to a very high standard, with virtually invisible finishing and joins (when required).

I also use other fibre & textile techniques in working with wire and sheet metal and to embellish the base pieces to create unique and unusal pieces of jewellery. I maintain a high level of attention to detail to satisfy my perfectionist tendancies when it comes to my artwork.

As a guide for time involved in knitting wire, a plain bracelet length chain in a large wire takes a minimum of 5 hours to weave. After weaving, there can be at least another hour to finish off the ends, attach the clasp and prepare the piece for polishing in a tumbler. While larger wires can be faster to weave, costwise, this is offset by the increased weight, and therefore cost, of metal used. A larger gauge wire is suitable for someone wishing to have a substantial chain with less flexibility. A smaller gauge wire gives a much finer, lacier look to the finished chain, however it can take considerably longer to weave, because it requires significantly more rows to achieve the same length as the larger wire.

Chain Maille Technique

My chain maille pieces are made by first hand winding the wire on a mandrel of the required size & cutting the rings using a jewellers saw, then making into the planned weave by interlocking jumprings into each other. The rings are closed with pliers, but not soldered, as the combined strength of the interlocked rings can withstand most day to day use. If the piece catches on something and comes apart, it can usually be easily repaired, although some rings may need to be reformed into circles or replaced if they have been pulled out of shape.

While many people use machine cut rings, or cut their own rings using a dremel or some other mechanical means, I use rings which I have hand wound and hand sawn where ever possible. In doing this, I am able to constantly monitor the quality of the shape and cut of the rings, with any misshapen rings or rings damaged by slipped cuts scrapped to be melted down and used later in casting.


Some pieces have been "antiqued" by a method using eggs, or a chemical containing sulphure to deliberately tarnish the piece, then polishing back the raised surfaces to a normal shine, leaving the recessed areas with the dark tarnish, enhancing the raised, polished areas.

Cuttlefish Casting

This is done by cutting a piece of cuttlefish in half (lengthways) and carving directly into the cuttlefish. A sprue funnel is then carved from the mold to the outside, and both halves realigned and tied with wire or taped together. Silver (either sterling or fine) is then melted and poured into the mold through the sprue funnel. The mold is then opened, the sprue cut off, and the cast piece is cooled, cleaned and polished. Cuttlefish molds can usually only be used once.

Salt Casting

This is done by melting silver (either sterling or fine) and pouring over rock salt crystals, giving unusual shapes and effects. The casting is then cooled and the salt crystals removed or dissolved, then cleaned and polished. I then usually embellish the pieces by wiring Swarovski crystals and pearls, freshwater pearls or glueing Swarovski chatons into recessed areas.

Water Casting

This is done by melting silver (either sterling or fine) and pouring into a bucket of water, giving unusual shapes including hollow bubble like shapes when the silver cools suddenly as it sinks through the water. The casting is then polished. I then sort through the pieces for shapes and sizes that are suitable to use for beadcaps, or to enhance pearls.

¹ Mandrels can be any round or almost round objects, including allen keys (for knitting thinner gauge wires), knitting needles and cardboard tubes.

² Homemade drawplates can easily be made using a piece of hardwood (eg jarrah) and drilling holes varying in size from the largest knitted cord you expect to make, down to the smallest you expect to draw down to. Using a countersink drillbit to enlarge and taper the start of each sized hole will make starting to draw the chain through much easier.