Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Karen Snyder and I've been a crafter for about as long as I can remember. I am a stay-at-home-Mama of two beautiful children with a husband who makes my dreams possible.

This blog is about all sorts of crafting. I am a paper-crafter from early days, a jewelry-maker with an unending obsession for chain maille. I make chain maille purses, many of which will be chronicled in this blog as their future owners await their completion. I love metalsmithing. I am an indifferent beader and don't get me anywhere near seed beads... they scatter, screaming to get away from me. I love to try new things, have a short attention span so if its a long-term project... I'm probably not doing it LOL.

If you have questions, ask. If you have tips, share. Same with suggestions - share! I want this to be a great forum for people to brainstorm and problem-solve with a good attitude. Crabby Apples need not respond, this is a feel-good kind of blog :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How It All Began. Purses, that is...

It all began with a client named Robin. She found my jewelry early on through my website and purchased a few things from me. Due to health and pregnancy issues, I spent a long time not working very hard on my online business. When I was ready to come back at it full-steam again, I emailed Robin and was thrilled to find that she remembered my jewelry. Then she reminded me of something I'd started working on years earlier -- a request of Robin's for a chain maille purse.
An evening bag really, nothing huge. Unlike the jewelry I created, which is mostly sterling silver, this purse was made of bright aluminum rings. Woven of European 4-in-1, in 18 gauge rings that are my Size 3's. Frankly, it is about as tight a weave as you can go with Euro 4-in-1. I pulled that old project out and looked at it. In the box was about 3" of the body of the purse already woven, as well as several pictures I'd drawn (badly) of the basic idea. I was instantly inspired to pick it up and work on it, so I did.
Robin and I email often back and forth -- she's a great lady with a fabulous personality. I often laugh while reading her emails. We emailed back and forth diligently as I hunted down the rest of the wire I would need, coiled and cut it, then began weaving again. In the next two weeks, I would learn to make brackets out of brass wire to hang the sheet from my lamp. I would learn to spend an entire night coiling, then cutting rings rather than doing it in small batches. I would learn to sit for two hours straight, doing nothing but opening rings. I would learn that a chain maille purse, even one woven in aluminum rings, is HEAVY! I blew through two belts on my tumbler before realizing I needed a larger capacity model.
The more I wove, the happier I became. The purse was just beautiful. Once I'd finished the main body of the purse, the sheet went into the tumbler. I hunted down more wire, coiled and cut it into rings for the strap, which is 38" of double rope in my size 9 rings. Once that was finished, the strap had to tumble for a day or two before I put the whole thing together. Figuring out how to join the sides and strap together was a learning experience, to say the least.
Then it was done and I could lay it on the table and look at it. No, I'd definitely never seen anything like it before. I was so proud that I'd made it with my own two hands out of nothing but bright aluminum wire.
The funny thing is that during the process, I posted progress pictures of the purse online on my Facebook page. Almost immediately, I was getting emails and messages asking how to get "one of those purses." It had never even occurred to me that I would make more than one purse, but the orders started to happen and I wasn't even finished with the first! Chain maille purses, who knew?
Robin loves her purse. My husband says that if she ever gets in trouble while wearing the purse, she will only need to swing it by the strap to knock someone out cold. (Did I mention it's heavy?) Nothing makes me happier than knowing that Robin will forever be the owner of Maille Bag #001. Her one little request has changed my business, in a wonderful way, forever. Thank you Robin, for everything!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Japanese 12-in-2 purse continues...

This purse is turning into something even more amazing than I had imagined. The more I do, the more excited I become to see the finished item. I've added some of the crystals to the bag, which don't show up all that great in the picture but it gives you an idea of how they will look.

Attaching the crystals was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated! My first thought was to put them on a link and weave them in... the pattern is too tight to allow for that. My next thought was to remove one of the larger links and replace it with a smaller-diameter wire link in the same size -- thinking that would accomodate the crystals. Didn't work. My third thought, the one that finally worked, was wiring the crystals onto the links they inhabit! I am very pleased with how that works and when I get the body of the purse finished, I plan to do some close-ups of how that wiring-on process actually works in case someone else out there ever wants to try it. I think the look is well worth the effort.

At this point in the game, the body of the purse is 8" wide and about 6" long. I have about another 4 inches to weave before I begin the flap closure of the purse. Then I'll have to weave the circular end caps for the bag, attach them and put the whole thing into the tumbler for days while I'm making the lining.

Hope everyone had a great Monday and that your week is full of blessings!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Japanese 12-in-2 Purse, A Beginning

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hello everyone, welcome to Blog Day #1! I find myself in the midst of another chain maille purse at the moment and I'm so thrilled with how it is coming out! I've added some pictures here of the beginning. The pattern is Japanese 12-in-2. (I started out doing Japanese 12-in-1, but the weave needed further stabilization so 12-in-2 it became!) That's the nature of chain maille though -- you often start out with one thing in mind and find that you need to make an adaptation of some sort. Chain maille is very flexible that way and that's likely one of the reasons I've fallen in love with the art form.
The purse will eventually be 8" wide and since it is a cylindrical shape, will be somewhere around 5 - 6" deep. This one doesn't have a strap and the front flap will be edged in the Stepping Stones pattern. I will add pictures of that once I get there. There will also be Swarovski crystals (4mm faceted rounds) sprinkled throughout the bag. I am really excited to show off how that looks, but I've got to get more of the purse woven first. This bag will also be fully lined, and I'll show some of those techniques on this blog when I get to that point.

When all is said and done, this purse will be somewhere around 8,000 rings of work (I hand coil and cut every ring I use). Not the most rings I've done in a purse, but plenty! I get such pleasure from making these bags, which is somewhat surprising considering that I don't usually like a long project. The purses usually take between 35 - 40 hours to complete, and that IS a long-term project in my book... but it doesn't feel like it when I'm weaving one up. I guess that means I found one of the things, aside from my children, that's worth my patience :)