Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and one quick word of advice

All in all, 2010 was pretty stellar for me. I accomplished every goal I set out to achieve and accomplished a number of things that I really didn't expect to. I believe now more than ever that although many things are out of our control, the one thing you are in charge of is your attitude. Once you change your attitude about where you think you can go in life, the possibilities are endless... if only because you've forgotten to be afraid of things that you don't need to fear.

Now that the more metaphysical ramblings have been dispensed with, I want to offer a quick word of advice for all artists, designers, and makers of cool things: raise your prices. As the new year approaches, reassess the work that you do on a daily basis and seriously think about what you're worth. Chances are, you are not charging enough for what you make, you're not covering your expenses and your hourly rate is woefully inadequate. You might just be so excited that people are willing to buy your work that you don't want to charge more, or you don't think people will pay more. They will. Just as you can change the shape of your life by expecting more from it, you can change the shape of your business by expecting customers who really appreciate the work that you do.

Preaching over. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.


Aluminum chainmail jewelry
Handmade chain mail jewelry

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Holidays - A Month in Review

To all of you who follow this blog, my sincerest apologies for the long absence. I have been so busy with shows and orders and something had to give and the blog was that something. For those of you who aren't fans of Kali Butterfly on Facebook, here's a little bit of information on what's been going on:

1) My work can now be found in Northern Lights Gallery in Racine, WI and Team Blonde in Forest Park, IL. If you're in either area, check them out.

2) I somehow survived doing three shows in three weekends, culminating in the awesome madness that was One of a Kind. I met a ton of people and talked to them about chainmail jewelry and armor. I also had a delightful conversation about the origin of my name and my business name, and my work was also featured in the Time Out Chicago blog (photos 13 and 14). In any case, if you missed something at One of a Kind, I am listing jewelry on Etsy so you can still find that special something. All orders placed by 3pm CST on Monday will have guaranteed Christmas delivery.

3) Instructions for my Unfoldings of the Implicate Order necklace will be featured in issues 28 and 29 of Bead Magazine. Issue 27 will feature images of both my Implicate necklace and my scalemail armor piece and hopefully that will be hitting shelves in the US soon.

4) With wholesale orders finished for the year, I have time to work on my latest armor piece. Originally it was going to be inspired by the goddess Amaterasu, but since I am mildly obsessed with the phoenix, I've decided to make a phoenix-inspired jacket. The photo below is just a small sneak peak of what is to come.

Speaking of, I am off to work on said armor piece. Happy holidays!

Handmade chain mail jewelry
Aluminum chainmail jewelry

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Dream Big

After winning the People's Choice Award in the Bead Dreams competition, my goal was to win an award in an international competition. I found out on Saturday that I won two.

I'm still totally floored by how my pieces placed in the British Bead Awards. While I wait for the shock to wear off, I'm trying to think up the next big goal. With luck, persistence, and a bit of monomania, you can accomplish anything.


Aluminum chain mail jewelry
Handmade aluminum chainmail jewelry

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Knowing when to say no

I tend to embrace whatever opportunities come my way. I think saying yes to good things make more good things shimmy down the highway of life. But I also think that being in a relationship, job, or situation you don't want to be in anymore is bad karma... and not in a multiple lives sense, but in a "you're going to just invite more of this into your life now by sticking around" sense.

This episode of This American Life is about quitting. I'm a fan of quitting in small doses. I think it can dislodge you from a big rut and help you realize that you can be in charge of your own life and destiny.

Kali Butterfly - Aluminum Chainmail Jewelry
Handcrafted aluminum chain mail jewelry

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inspiration Monday (Tuesday edition) - A Year in Review

On October 1, I celebrated the anniversary of a big change in my life. One year ago, I embarked on my year of freedom project. My plan was to pour every ounce of energy I had in me into creating the foundation of a meaningful, joyous life spent doing what meant the most to me. The goal was to create a jewelry design business that would bring in enough income that I could support myself. A secondary goal was to establish myself as a designer. In the past year, I accomplished the following:

--I published an article on critical theory and feminism in Current Perspectives in Social Theory.
--Three wearable art pieces were exhibited at SNAG's Exhibition in Motion at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX.
--My beaded talons were accepted into a national juried exhibition: "Extremities: Exploring the Margins of the Human Body."
--I won the People's Choice Award and 2nd place in the Wirework competition in the 2010 Bead Dreams competition.
--My "Squares with Flair" project was published in Step by Step Wire Jewelry.
--I took home the grand prize in the Fashion Fever sewing and fashion design competition at the CHA Craft SuperShow.
--I was awarded first place in the Pendants/Necklaces category in the 2010 Jewelry Arts Awards and had my piece published in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine.
--I am now represented in 8 stores, with two more orders in the works.

Looking back is always a little bittersweet because I wish that I had a sense earlier of what could be accomplished with a lot of dedication, passion, and hard work. In the course of a year, I have fundamentally changed the shape of my life. I am a professional jewelry designer. I think that's incredible.

Now that I've gotten my freedom mojo going, I've been thinking about what to do for this following year. My goal for this year is a) to establish myself as the aluminum chainmaille jewelry queen, and b) to purge myself of all my procrastination and anxiety. This is the year of fearlessness.


Aluminum chain mail jewelry
Handcrafted aluminum chainmail jewelry

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Crochet a Cthulhu

Etsy is a wondrous place. I'm not just saying that because they featured one of my necklaces on their blog. You can find all sorts of neat things if you know what to look for.

Example: I found a kit to make a cthulhu plush. It even comes with stuffing and a little beady eye.

For those of you who already have yarn and just need instructions, here's a link to a free crochet cthulhu pattern.


Aluminum chain mail jewelry
Handcrafted chainmail jewelry

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Vanessa's Power Miso Soup

Today was one of those days that signaled that autumn was on its way. By the time I left work, it was downright chilly. It was the perfect day for some soup.

I've been wanting to make miso soup for a while. For a time I was addicted to Trader Joe's instant miso soup, but there isn't one for several miles, which means nothing to people with those automobile contraptions, but means an hour trip for those of us who take public transportation.

Whole Foods, thankfully, is much closer, and they had all the ingredients I needed. The following is a slightly modified recipe for miso soup found on the back of Eden brand organic shiro miso.

1 tsp wakame flakes
2 cups of water
1 small onion, diced (I used a boiler onion--worked like a charm)
1 carrot, shredded
1 green onion, finely sliced
4 ounces of tofu, drained and pressed (although the last brand I got didn't even need that--I'll update this post the next time I'm at Whole Foods)
2 tbsp of organic shiro miso, dissolved in 2 tbsp water

Bring the water to a boil. Add onions and wakame and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat as low as possible and add the miso/water mixture, simmering for another two minutes. After that, drop in the green onions, carrots, and tofu and get ready for some super-fabulous soup.

If you do try out the recipe, let me know what you think!

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chain mail jewelry

Monday, September 13, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Live Well

On August 24th, visionary anime director Satoshi Kon, passed away. Before his death, he wrote a rambling and beautiful letter that his family posted on his blog. Makiko Itoh was kind enough to post an English translation of the document on her blog.

The letter he left behind is a good reminder that life is fleeting. As far as I'm concerned, you should enjoy as much of your time here as possible.

Vanessa Walilko
Kali Butterfly - Aluminum Chain Mail Jewelry

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspiration Monday (Tuesday edition) - Change your habits

I used to handle stress by playing video games for hours on end. That was fun, but it would often leave me with 8-bit music stuck in my head and pixelated dreams for days. And sure, I would think it was cool that I had defeated Omega Weapon without converting and of my Triple Triad cards for items, but how many people understand any of what I just wrote, let alone care about it? More importantly, hours spend on video games would leave me with the distinct sense of accomplishing nothing. Not so great.

These days, when I'm stressed out (usually about orders), I make something. I take a break and focus on something else in order to clear my head. The past couple days have been jewelry-making central. I dropped off pieces at Hubba-Hubba, and I've been furiously working on getting out the fall batch of wholesale orders. And I've spent a good amount of time freaking out over having pieces being photographed in other states and other miscellaneous things. So I stopped fretting and got to work on something else that would keep me occupied for a while. Not only was it a good distraction, but I also had the satisfaction of making something that I can wear out in this lovely fall weather.

We all need ways to de-stress. If you choose to have better habits, you can end up with a jacket made with winged unicorn fabric. Frankly, I'll take that over maxing out the timer in one of the Final Fantasy games.


Aluminum chain mail jewelry
Handmade chainmail jewelry

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar

Ever since I first saw Julie Newmar on the television screen as Catwoman, she's been my hero. Catwoman was smart, funny, and had minions--MINIONS--to do her bidding. And she had a good fashion sense. Julie Newmar played the role perfectly.

So, when I found out that Julie Newmar was going to be at Comic-Con, I had to go. I knew I was going to get her autograph and hoped to get my photo with her. And even though the anxiety of going alone to Comic-Con nearly kept me from going, I decided to put my chainmaille jacket on and go. (Wearing chainmaille makes everything easier.) And she thought my chainmaille jacket was beautiful.

The point of this, aside from bragging about meeting my childhood idol, is that if you want something, even if you might think it's silly, it's worth going after. Because your hero might also turn out to be lovely like Julie Newmar, and who doesn't want an awesome memory like that?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiration Monday

I do plan on recapping my time at Comic Con on Sunday, but I don't have it in me to write right now. But if this video doesn't inspire you to do something wonderful, you have a heart two sizes too small, Grinch.

As an aside, those Bambi toys look just like the ones I had when I was a kid.

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chain mail jewelry

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Frugal Living

NPR published a story about frugal living in NYC. As someone who eventually wants to move to New York to be a design big-wig, it's heartening to know that it is possible to survive in the big city without a big income.

Chain Mail Jewelry
Aluminum chain mail jewelry

Monday, August 9, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Make a Mini Top Hat

Yikes. It almost isn't Monday anymore, but I wanted to post something before the sun sets...

If you're like me, the idea of making a mini top hat has crossed your mind at least once. Well, I did some internet digging, and I found a very clever and easy tutorial for making your own mini top hat! It's by fetishfaerie on Deviant Art.

Aluminum chain mail jewelry
Handcrafted chainmail jewelry

Monday, August 2, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Apply to Everything

I'm still buzzing over the win in the Fashion Fever competition at the CHA Craft SuperShow. I, for one, did not expect to win. I've been sewing for years, but I'm mostly self-taught (my family did show me how to sew by hand, but that's pretty much it). I consider myself a jewelry designer, even though I have been known to make chainmaille clothing. I was mostly looking for a challenge since I've devoted myself to scaring the holy heck out of myself, and I walked away with a trip to LA in January for the 2011 CHA SuperShow. Not bad for two days work.

Here is a photo of all the Fashion Fever Finalists, taken from the CHA SuperShow Facebook page.

The lesson I learned is this: apply to everything.

Aside from jury fees, you have nothing to lose. Heck, it was basically free for me to enter Fashion Fever, I just had to pay for the postage of mailing the photos of my bead embroidered Tiamat dress to Michigan. Sure, if you're sensitive, it can be painful if you apply to something and aren't accepted. But let me tell you, I have applied to countless shows, countless exhibitions and countless competitions and been rejected from countless shows, countless exhibitions and countless competitions. From going through the process over and over again, I've built up a callous. And, from applying to everything that I think I'm remotely qualified for, there are enough successes to make the rejections seem irrelevant.

If you never put yourself out there, no one will ever know who you are or care about what you're doing. If you have a passion for something, you have to let the world know, and putting an application in the mail (or in an email) is one of the easiest ways to share your work with people.

Enough preaching. I have a show to prepare for. I'll be at the Evanston Lakeshore Art Festival this weekend. I'll have loads of new jewelry. Come check it out!

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chain mail jewelry

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Find good people

Being an artist is difficult business. As I mentioned in my blog last week, you're constantly putting yourself on the line. Your work is a part of you, and sending it out to be judged by others is exhausting.

As such, I constantly struggle with how to sustain the energy necessary to keep soldiering on. Starting and running a business (or--in my megalomaniacal aspirations--a design empire) requires a constant input of energy and time because you always have to be thinking about the next step. Working in a corporate job has its own set of emotional drains and problems, but there is an odd comfort in knowing where you're going to be each day and knowing what you're going to do. For those people who aren't threatened with lay-offs, you also can always count on your paycheck. Artists know that whether they can pay their rent or not depends on their ability to generate money off of their talent (which can be subject to arbitrary whims, as I also mentioned last week).

Something I realized not too long ago is that the easiest way to keep up all the energy to keep fighting is to find good people. Last year when I decided to redesign my life, I also purged all of the friends who didn't get what I was trying to do and who thought I was a bit of a weirdo. (I am, of course, but I shouldn't be judged for that!) These days, I surround myself with friends are supportive of what I'm doing, even if they're not artists. And they are my greatest resource--if I'm feeling anxious about a decision or feeling drained, they keep me motivated.

Any time you venture off the beaten path, it helps to have a few cheerleaders in your corner. Good friends will always be there as your personal pep rally. Don't waste time with nay-sayers. Chances are they're wrong, or they're trying to dismiss your dreams because they're too scared to follow theirs. And don't waste time talking to people who don't get what you're doing. Talking to people who don't understand art is a lot like talking to medieval peasants about the stock market--they're not going to get it. (As an aside, if you are doing that, you're totally wasting your time machine.)

Vanessa Walilko
Chain mail jewelry

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Chainmaille Belt

I've been futzing with this belt for months. It emerged after I altered the ring size I used for one of my pieces of chain mail jewelry and suddenly had a plethora of rings in a size I couldn't use. And then I thought the former bracelet design would work great as a belt. The ends of the belt, however, thwarted me for months. I wasn't sure how to finish it off so that it looked polished. I came up with a solution just a couple of days ago, and now I have a belt that I can proudly wear. I am a happy lady.

Vanessa Walilko
Chain mail jewelry

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Don't Take it Personally

I remember the first time I entered the Bead Dreams competition. I submitted my Phoenix Reborn bead embroidered necklace and my Dragon Mother beaded sculpture. I was so proud of both pieces, I had even gotten Larry Sanders to photograph them and sent in fancy high-res images. To say that I was disappointed when I got the rejection letter would be an understatement.

I used to take rejection personally, and I imagine that most sensitive artists do. It's hard not to--your pour your energy and time into making a piece of art that you adore. It's a piece of you. It takes courage just to show it to someone, let alone send it out to be judged. It can be really heartbreaking to send a piece out and find it unequivocally dismissed. You can console yourself with knowing that your friends think it's cool, but only so much.

Thankfully, I possess that weird gene that when someone tells me no, I have to prove them wrong. I have no idea where this stubborn, potentially spiteful impulse comes from, but every rejection evokes the same response: "I'll show you." Both my win in the Fire Mountain Gems contest and my publication in Step by Step Wire Jewelry came from being rejected elsewhere. I had to prove the rejectors wrong.

Of course, what I've realized over the past couple years (aside from the fact that I can put my Scorpio-moon vindictive nature to very productive use), is that you can't take it personally. At the end of the day, all judgments are arbitrary. We can hide behind an illusion of objectivity as much as we want, but without a doubt, whatever was going on inside the heads of the judges determines if we get into a show or not. They might like your work, but it doesn't fit into their vision of the show. They might like your aesthetic, but not your technical skill, or vice versa. They could have been cut off by some jerk in the morning and think your entry reminds them of the driver. They could have gotten a ton of really skilled applicants this year, and your piece was great but others made things even better. Anything is possible.

At the end of the day, you have to have faith in the work that you're doing, and keep putting it out there for the world to see. As you hone your craft, someone is bound to notice, and they will tell other someones until suddenly lots of people know and care about what you're doing. But before that happens, you have to get over yourself and not take it personally. It'll serve you better in the long run.

Vanessa Walilko
Handmade aluminum chain mail jewelry

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Overcoming Procrastination

Crafting an MBA recently posted a blog entry about how to stop using "work" to procrastinate from doing real work. I do this constantly. I should be working on preparing for some upcoming shows, but instead I'm working on my cropped red scale mail jacket. It's almost done, but deadlines are looming and I'm looking for a distraction.

There are tips for how to overcome this procrastination in the form of fake work. One is to prioritize your to-do list. So I guess it's time to get off the computer and get to work!

Vanessa Walilko
Handmade Aluminum Chainmaille Jewelry

Friday, July 9, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 61

Today has been a fantastic day. I found out that my chainmaille jacket was mentioned in the Evanston Review, my armor was featured on the Lark Crafts website, and I got a call that I was chosen as a finalist for the National Sewing Council Fashion Fever Sewing Competition. And that was all before noon. As I said, fantastic day.

I also am happy to report that I finally finished my latest dragon, made from Swarovski crystal elements. It's a project that I started working on MANY months ago, and I'm delighted to see the finished product.

Vanessa Walilko
Handmade aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Monday, July 5, 2010

Inspiration Monday - Practice Makes Perfect

I happened to find this great post written by my cousin's cousin on honing your craft. She is a talented musician, but what she says easily applies to any creative endeavor. If you want to be really good at something, you have to practice it obsessively. She describes learning techniques for playing the piano well, but I was reminded of making chainmaille. Any time a student of mine tells me that she would like to have better closures, I reply that if she wants really good closures, she should make a piece of clothing. Closing 10,000, 15,000, or 30,000 jump rings will help you hone your skill (if you don't tear your hair out first, of course).

In any case, the blog post is a good read for anyone who wants to know how someone creative develops their skill. Read her blog post here.

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum Chainmaille Jewelry

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 60

It's about time I post something new! I've finally recovered from Bead&Button madness and returned to making things, searching out competitions and shows, and sending in entries, aside from making jewelry, keeping track of the books, and doing other business things. Everyone thinks that it's easy to be an artist. Hah! It's a business, but one I'm happy to do since I love making things more than just about anything else.

Meandering thoughts aside, I finally put together a ruched halter top and skirt made of this wonderful two-way stretch knit I picked up a few years ago. It's the perfect outfit for this hot weather that I find desperately hard to tolerate. There has to be a place that has temperatures in the 60-75 degree range, right? I would move there in a heartbeat.

Also, I am hard at work on my entry for the latest Fire Mountain Gems competition. It's a Swarovski elements design contest, and I think I may finish my piece right after the contest opens. I love being early for a deadline for once.

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Monday, June 21, 2010

Inspiration Monday: Fairy Wings Tutorial

I swear, not all of my inspirational posts will be about wings, but I saw this tutorial on and I had to share it. It gives you excellent instructions on creating wings out of Fantasy Film, perfect for fairies, mermaid fins, or (as I'm planning) dragon wings. You can check out the full tutorial here.

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Art Diaries

I'm excited to report that one of my scale mail panels was accepted into the Art Diaries exhibit at 4Art Inc Gallery. It will be exhibited in their "RETREAT" exhibition from July 16-September 17 at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago.

Aluminum chainmaille jewelry
Vanessa Walilko

Monday, June 14, 2010

Inspiration Monday: How to Make Moving Dragon Wings

Monday has got to be the hardest day of the week. Waking up to a morning full of fog isn't so great either. We could all use some inspiration. For example, someone posted an instructional video on Youtube for how to make your own moving dragon wings. You can bet that this is now on the to-do list.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bead&Button Recap!

While the past few years have involved many work-filled days in Milwaukee due to the Bead&Button show, this year involved a tactical strike. I traveled to Milwaukee early Wednesday morning, stayed the night and then traveled back to Chicago on Thursday early evening. I somehow managed to get through two 18+ hour days on mostly adrenaline and homemade orange bread.

The Meet the Teachers reception was the wonderful whirlwind I expected. I met the editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Denise Peck in person for the first time. Also, my beaded animals got a lot of great attention--it looks like I'll be developing instructions for the cat first, then the little purple dragon.

Thursday was wonderful, even though I started working at 8am. My class was fantastic! I had four wonderful students and taught them all Dragonscale. Honestly, I can't believe that I get paid to talk with and teach chainmaille to lovely people. I feel like I'm getting away with something sneaky. I really hope that the classes I submit for next year are accepted so that I have the opportunity to teach there again.

To top it all off, my chainmaille jacket won 2nd place in the Wirework category for the Bead Dreams competition. I'm excited to get that gift certificate from Beaducation.

Also, before I made my return journey to Chicago, I met a bunch of lovely wonderful people from Fire Mountain Gems! I've been buying supplies from them for the longest time--and been a finalist or winner in the past three of the last five competitions. (Someone even recognized my dragon!) In fact, if I manage to eke out some time, I have a project to finish for their upcoming Swarovski crystal competition. It's going to be a bust few months!

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bead&Button or bust and 18 Hands Gallery

I've determined that about a month before Bead&Button, anyone associated with the show develops Bead&Button brain. It's a condition that involves thinking only of the show and forgetting just about everything else. I am very excited about teaching at the show for the first time, seeing my chainmaille jacket in the on display with all the other finalists, and meeting all the lovely people who come out for Meet the Teachers, but I am also looking forward to the post-show recovery of my full brain power.

In other exciting news, two of my pieces were accepted into the Contemporary Beadwork II exhibition at 18 Hands Gallery in Houston, TX. Anyone in the area can check out my Dragon Mother beaded sculpture and my necklace inspired by David Bohm's theory of the implicate order. The exhibition will be on display during the month of July.

Unique aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 57

One of my favorite places to get fossils and stones is Dave's Rock Shop. It's worth a visit for the museum in the basement alone, but their selection of stone carvings, fossils, and beads is unbelievable.

On one of my many visits to the store, I came across a dendrite that I fell in love with. I finally turned it into a necklace:

I used enameled copper wire to make a prong setting for the piece. I really love the bronze color.

Aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Einstein Biker Ring?

During one of my early-morning eBay searches for one of my various esoteric interests, I stumbled upon a biker ring featuring the face of Albert Einstein. No lie. Look!

I'm not sure how many bikers are fans of relativity or the EPR paradox so much that they would get an Einstein ring, but science nerds everywhere should rejoice.

Of course, if science isn't your bag, you can always get a ring of the Flying Spaghetti Monster...

Make Something Beautiful - Day 56

Years ago, I purchased some beautiful handcarved aragonite flowers from Fire Mountain Gems. Of course, I had no idea what to do with them. Since I love large, sculptural rings, I thought I'd make one. It was a pretty simply project--just wrapped some green wire around a ring mandrel and voila! Of course, wearing it does make typing semi-difficult.

Vanessa Walilko
Aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 55

I had made a bracelet a few days ago using lapis lazuli flowers and butterflies, and I thought that today I would make a matching pendant.

Vanessa Walilko
Unique aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Monday, May 24, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 54

I was looking for something repetitive to do since all of my epic projects are currently in the mentally exhausting "design as you work" stage. I decided to pick up knitting again, and made perhaps one of the most seasonally inappropriate things I've ever made. It was 90 degrees yesterday, and I wanted to make fuzzy armwarmers. Clearly the heat has already effected my brain functions. Oh well.

Unique aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 53

Some time around 2002, I picked up a couple of fluorite skulls in Arizona. I always had the intention of making a ring out of them, but this project finally gave me a reason to do it.

I created a simple band because I wanted the focus to be on the stone itself, with its teal and dark purple coloring. I'm excited that a really simple prong setting holds the skull in place.

Unique Aluminum Chainmaille Jewelry

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 52

I woke up this morning to fog as thick as soup. Visibility was about 30 feet, maybe? Fog is really the spring/summer version of snow: everything is white, and you don't really want to go outside because you can't see too far in front of your face. The fog has started to lift, which means that the errands must get done. Tragic.

However, I did manage to get something done for the Make Something Beautiful project. I've been a slacker lately, making something every week or so, which was not what I intended. I have a ton of supplies that I've picked up over the years, and it's about time that I made something with them. In fact, several years ago I bought a piece of meteor glass that just rocks my world. With some simple wire wrapping, I made it into a pendant. It's amazing how easy it is to turn something that's just taking up space into something that has a use.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 51

I'm currently watching the setting sun cast the evening clouds in a magenta glow. It was a grey day, and it's nice to see some color in the sky.

Here's a new bracelet. I've had this idea for a while, and it's nice to finally see it realized:

Unique aluminum chainmaille jewelry

Friday, May 14, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 50

I've been staring at a computer screen all day, so this will be a short post. I finished another aluminum and rubber ring bracelet for the speedweaving dragonscale tutorial I'm cooking up for Bead&Button. I can't believe that in a mere four weeks I'll be teaching my first class at the show. I'm very excited.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Epic beadwork

When I finished my scale mail cropped jacket, I was thrilled that it was done, but a little sad, too. What was I going to work on now? Well, I've decided to make a return to a few things that I haven't done a lot of in a while: sewing and beading.

My latest piece is a giant soft sculpture dragon with bead and stone embellishments. It's still in the preliminary stages, but I love the way the head is coming out with the carved stone horns and the lampwork eyes. Oh, and I was lucky enough to just have some orange fabric just sitting around that looks like scales. Hooray!

Also, I started work on Tiamat again. I just put on some This American Life of MST3K and bead away. I'm in the final third now, I just have to fill in the space around the cuneiform characters. There's a certain amount of meditative repetition that occurs with chainmaille. Not so with bead embroidery. I have to think so much about where the next splash of color is going to go that I can only work on it for a couple hours before getting frustrated and/or exhausted... but the payoff is worth it.

Vanessa Walilko

Make Something Beautiful - Day 49

I'll be honest, I needed a little break from making things after finishing the jacket. I just takes so much creative energy to finally put the last pieces on a project that has taken you--literally--months to finish.

That being said, here are some earrings:

Friday, April 30, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 48

It's done--12,000 jump rings, 6,000 scales, 10 leather straps and countless hours of work. Yes, I put the finishing touches on my scale mail jacket today. I feel a mix of relief at having finished something that consumed a good portion of my life and the sense of loss of no longer having that project take over my life. There's always the Tiamat dress...

Chainmaille armor
Chainmaille jewelry

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 46

My eyes are officially hurting from working on my latest armor piece. With much reluctance, I put it down, just to pick up some jump rings and design a new bracelet. And now I will step away from the computer, because staring at small things all day has made my eyes feel very strange.

Unique chainmaille jewelry

Monday, April 26, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 45

I'm feeling fairly nauseous because I sent out a package with four of my armor pieces tucked inside. Altogether, that's about 250 hours of my life in one box that the USPS will hopefully send to its destination, and not ship it to California by mistake like another package that went astray.

However, I am soldiering on and still working on new jewelry. Here's a Japanese bracelet I made today.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 44

There's a call for a contemporary beadwork exhibition at a gallery in Houston. Since all of my compulsive behavior has been channeled into making chainmaille and applying to shows/competitions/residencies/grants, I have to apply to this one, too. (It's like my version of counting ceiling tiles.) It gave me a good reason to make something that I had been thinking about for a few months.

It's called, "Unfoldings of the Enfolded Universe," and is directly inspired by David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order. In the book, Bohm discusses the notion of the undivided wholeness of all things, the connectivity of thought and matter, and the idea that all things are unfoldings of an enfolded universe. If you're interested in theoretical physics, especially the kind that challenges current paradigms, I recommend it.

Unique chainmaille jewelry
by Vanessa Walilko

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bead&Button News and Make Something Beautiful - Day 43

Best news last week: I found out that my chainmaille jacket was juried into the 2010 Bead Dreams Competition in the new Wirework category. I'll be shipping them the 30,000 jump ring, 8-pound piece of clothing some time this week. Considering that the rest of my armor pieces are going to Bead + Fiber for their wearable art show, I'll be chainmaille-deprived for the next couple months. At least my scalemaille piece is almost done.

Anyway, here's the piece I made today. I usually make things out of aluminum, but I wanted to try a golden design today. I quite like it.

Facere pulchrum!


Unique chainmaille jewelry
Handmade jewelry

Friday, April 23, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 42

Here's a new necklace. Also, I was featured on Athena's Armoury blog as part of the raffle sponsor spotlight. Janine is doing the 3-Day walk to raise money for breast cancer research. Support her cause!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 41

For the past several days, I've been bingeing on Mythbusters episodes while working furiously on my new scale maille piece. Over 5,000 scales and 10,000 rings later, and I'm still not done, but so close...

I've also been designing new pieces, like these earrings:

Unique, handcrafted chainmaille jewelry

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 40

Here's a ripple bubble necklace with huge rings. Frankly, I think if you're going to wear a piece of jewelry, it should be something that people can see from across the room.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 39

For whatever reason, I haven't posted anything in about a week even though I've been making things all week. It's strange. And since I'd gotten into the habit of posting, I started feeling anxious for not posting. So here's one of my latest bracelets. It reminds me of clouds.

Unique, handcrafted chainmaille jewelry

Friday, April 9, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 38

If I weren't under the gun for show and class prep, I would write about this new talisman necklace, how I picked up the shell and coral from the beach when I visited a friend of mine, and how special that vacation was. For now, I just feel like uploading a photo.

Vanessa Walilko

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 37

I guess the aluminum components just weren't jangly enough. I decided to add bells. Bells are supposed to dispel evil spirits... of course, I really just like making noise.

Vanessa Walilko

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 36

I am busy making more jewelry for the Spring Show at Architectural Artifacts in Chicago, and I just came up with something that put a smile on my face. What good is a monkey bracelet without a matching pendant?

Facere pulchrum. And come to my show!

Vanessa Walilko

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Make Something Beautiful - Day 35

Today's Make Something Beautiful project is a little different. Usually, I make a piece of jewelry. Lately, especially, I've been trying to incorporate materials that have been lying around for a while to make new designs. Today, I unveil some website work.

Ever since I launched my chainmaille jewelry site, I had a little notice in the upper right-hand corner letting people know that "Kali Butterfly Dark was coming soon." If we can assume, as Einstein did, that time is relative, then a year later is definitely "soon."

In any case, those of you who follow me on Facebook or crafthaus have seen these pieces before. However, I've also set up the index to include an exhibition schedule.

In any case, enough yapping, enjoy Kali Butterfly Dark!

Facere pulchrum!

Vanessa Walilko
Chainmaille jewelry, chainmaille clothing, beaded armor, and art