Monday, October 24, 2016

Newly Listed: DNA Chainmaille Bracelet

From the very beginning of my jewelry...line, I guess?...I knew I wanted to do something with the infamous double helix structure of DNA:

But how to do it? It took years of selling and digging around on the Internet, but I think I've finally figured it out! So, to celebrate my latest and greatest , let's review my brief and inglorious history with the double helix.

1. I made one sad attempt at wire earrings and they were actually my first sale on Etsy—mortifying. I try not to remember that too often, and I hope that customer is still happy with them.

Not pictured because UGH EMBARRASSING.

2. Years later I learned that chainmaille was a thing, and that there were spiral weaves. The prettiest one I found at first was the serpentine weave, also known as spiral 4-in-1 or just spiral. Here it is to great effect by an Etsy shop I love, PartsByNC:

Spiral chainmaille sterling silver DNA necklace
Spiral Chainmaille Sterling Silver Necklace by PartsByNC
But the weave is unstable, unless you loop it back on itself, which I did here in this bracelet of my own you can pick up in the Da Vinci Center gift shop:

Otherwise it just turns into Jens Pind Linkage which I think is heinous. (I might make some JPL pieces later, as JPL can stand for both Jens Pind Linkage and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but that's a joke that's essentially only funny to me.)

Another option is a spiral 8-in-2 (instead of 4-in-1) but the end result isn't nearly so slinky and serpentine. Here's an example from Van Alphen Studio:

Double Spiral 8-in-2 Maille Bracelet by Van Alphen Studio

3. So I did some digging off-and-on and found a couple of other weaves that I liked! The first was a weave called This Is Not Food, which naturally retains a clean spiral shape and, because of the small jump rings you use to lock the spiral, has a funky, spiky look to it. I didn't love it at first—I liked it, but I didn't love it—but now it's grown on me.

Double Helix Chainmaille Bracelets (This Is Not Food) by Kokoba
4. At some point I got the idea to see if I could do something with Viking knit and accent beads. While these didn't turn out as I had hoped, they still turned out nicely. This is something I plan on returning to in the future. I love Viking knit too much not to use it.

Double Helix Viking Knit Bracelet
Double Helix Viking Knit Bracelet

Double Helix Viking Knit Necklace
Double Helix Viking Knit Necklace

5. Around the same time I found This Is Not Food, I found Lorraine's Inverted Spiral, which I loved for the sleekness of the profile and for the uniformity of the rings. (This Is Not Food requires jump rings of two different sizes.) I worked out a prototype bracelet over the winter holidays last year, and made it harder on myself by choosing a monochrome (rather than a two-tone) theme.

Double Helix Chainmaille Bracelet (Inverted Spiral) by Kokoba
What I realize now is that the two-tone scheme, in addition to making the weaving much, much easier, also serves to make the spiral shape clear. I will, of course, still offer monochrome options in the shop for anyone who wants that sort of thing, but I just personally prefer the two-tone version. Now that I was comfortable with the weave (almost a year later), I could take the next step and invest in a special jump ring order from The Ring Lord rather than pull from my generous stock of jewelry findings. The rings in this new piece are anodized aluminum, rather than the nickel/copper/zinc alloy I usually use.

Black/Champagne Double Helix Maille Bracelet
Black/Champagne Double Helix Maille Bracelet

The result is something lightweight and comfortable (and also really pretty!), and something I will definitely be making more of. Of course, I realize now that the way I first learned to spiral in this weave creates the infamous left-handed DNA. Sigh. The good news is that it was surprisingly easy to correct this technical flaw. As of this post, I have both this left-handed bracelet and a proper right-handed bracelet listed in the Kokoba Etsy shop. (I'm not redoing this one, though. Either someone loves it, in all its inaccuracy, or I get to keep it and wear it and look fly. Either way works for me!)

There it is: the eight-year evolution of an idea. Is this the last iteration? Who knows!

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