Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moving along

I've decided to move my blog over to Wordpress.  You can check out my latest posts about jewelry, costumes, and everything else at

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Scale Mail Halter Top - Part 3

Linking all those scales together can be a chore, but the result is so lovely, it's hard to complain.

Updates this week will be light and I'm building up inventory for Madison, but I'm looking forward to jumping into this project again when I get back.  Look at those cap sleeves!  I just want to spend all day working on this.

But for now, I'm making plenty of new designs, like little star earrings:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Scale Mail Halter Top - Part 2

This will be a micro-post, but these bronze scales are so yummy.  The muslin template is a nice guide for the work, too.

Vanessa Walilko
Handmade chainmail jewelry

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Scale Mail Halter Top - The Beginning!

I'm lucky enough to know a lot of talented, interesting people.  One of them, MsPixy--burlesque hostess, performer, and producer extraordinaire--commissioned me to make her a scale halter top for GenCon.  After a couple meetings, we settled on a bronze/gold number with a fake leather back. 

I started working on this in June after teaching at Bead&Button, but here are some photos of my creative process so far.

I try to keep all of my ongoing projects in little plastic bins.  It's a small attempt at staying organized.

With scale projects, I always start by linking together many pairs of scales.  I get the quick feeling of accomplishment with every pair I link, and it makes the scale mail process more efficient.

Patterns... I don't know why for the first several pieces of clothing I didn't make any patterns.  I guess the struggle of putting on and taking off bits of scale mail was exciting to me.  In any case, when working on a piece for someone else, that's not possible.  Thankfully, Pixy had some muslin and cut out some pieces like a sewing ninja at our meeting.  Here are the shoulders:

I love watching a piece come to life.

I'll be posting daily updates until the piece is finished.  Stay tuned tomorrow for images of the front of the piece!

Handmade jewelry
Chainmail jewelry

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Deadlines, chainmail, and all other things

I wish there were enough hours in the day.  While I was working on the costumes for Queen Amarantha, I wanted to make a chainmail headdress out of aluminum.  Sadly, because I need to eat AND sleep like a mere mortal, I didn't have enough time to finish it.  However, now that I've properly recovered from Bead&Button (and the unfortunate food poisoning I suffered from there, ugh), I was able to finish it.

Hopefully it'll make an appearance at Bristol Ren Faire.  Or, maybe I'll wear it while I practice belly dance moves to feel a little fancier.

Aluminum jewelry
Handmade chainmail jewelry

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stars of Empire Kickstarter

The fine folks at Hive, Queen, & Country launched a Kickstarter for the second edition of their RPG Stars of Empire.  They were kind enough to use some of my work in The World Beneath the Clouds, with my friend K serving as one of the Venusian Sky Wolves and with me in my chainmail shrug serving as an example of Venusian fashion.

Pretty neat, right?  Aside from creating a brilliant, fleshed-out world, they are also really wonderful and supportive collaborators.

So stop by their Kickstarter and pledge some money to get their second edition off the ground. 

Vanessa Walilko
Dynamic Chainmail Jewelry
Handmade Jewelry

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crochet Colonel Chestbridge

A friend of mine introduced me to Danger 5 last weekend and I immediately fell in love with the show.  I grew up watching reruns of the 60's Batman show and Green Hornet so this show was hitting all of my nostalgia buttons.

Inspired by the show, I decided to crochet Colonel Chestbridge.  Since they creators talk in interviews about how they had no money for the first season, I gave myself an extra challenge: I could only use materials that I already had.  Thankfully, I have a ton of odds and ends, some 17-year old Sculpey that worked for the Sit Down Gun, and yarn and felt in all the right colors.

I'm pretty happy with the result, especially since it forced me to design an eagle head and beak.  I'm happiest with the handmade bias tape I hand stitched to the felt jacket.  Chestbridge is a dapper colonel.

Vanessa Walilko
Handmade chainmail jewelry
Chainmail jewelry supplies

Friday, April 3, 2015

Belly dance

I recently started taking belly dancing classes at Arabesque Dance & Fitness in Chicago.  After a long, cold winter, I wanted to start moving again.  After seeing a friend perform at one of their haflas, I decided to sign up.

I absolutely love the classes so far, so much so that I decided to design a chainmail belly dance belt.  I had disks, rings, and chain, and when I got an idea, I quickly doodled it on a scrap of paper.

I started working obsessively on it immediately.  I finished it last night, and I'm so thrilled with how it turned out.

Now that it's done, I guess I'll go back to knitting that sweater I started a couple weeks ago.  If I finish it soon, I might be able to wear it once before it gets too warm.

Aluminum chainmail jewelry
Handmade jewelry

Friday, March 6, 2015

That Beaded Dragon and renewing creativity

Madeleine L'Engle wrote about how she played the piano when she felt creatively stuck.  For me, working on my stuffed dragon helped get me out of a creative slump.  I love it, although it will be a terribly heavy neck pillow when all is said and done.

Here are some shots of my progress:

Close-up of progress after day 2.
 My dragon just chills out on the couch between beading sessions.
Progress after day 3.  I love adding those gemstones down the back.

Stay tuned for more photos of the dragon in progress!

Vanessa Walilko

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dragon plush necklace

There are few things more satisfying than working on a project that's been sitting in a box untouched for a few years.  I got it in my head the other day that I really should finish this dragon soft sculpture necklace/fancy neck pillow.

Some ideas pop into my head and I make them immediately, some need to percolate a bit.  This originally started out as a big sculpture that would wind around my body, but I settled on something bold but still wearable.

Now I just need to start working on the bead embroidery, which will take another few years, probably.  But the body is finally done, which makes me very happy.

Personalized jewelry
Anodized aluminum jewelry