This is my first time making an Instructable instead of browsing the many fantastic projects you all have made. I'm hoping you all find my Instructable as informative and instructive and useful as I've found many of your projects.
Now, onto business...
YOU WILL NEED:
-Locking Jaw Pliers (Vice Grips)
-Two pliers (I use 1 bent chain nose pliers and 1 straight round nose pliers)
-200 ft. of 14 swg steel wire (I used galvanized steel fence wire. Cost me ~$6 at the hardware store. Also note that you will have the opportunity to weld the rings of this project together increasing strength and durability. If using galvanized wire, please weld in a well ventilated area. Galvanized wire releases toxic fumes when heated and is why I didn't weld this project.)
-Side Cutting Pliers (wire nippers...They must be durable or they could break. A 4" pair broke at the hinge, 6" pair did fine)
-Heat source (propane torch, stove top, lighter. This will be used to heat a ring to melt plastic)
-Paper clips (Or other wire like twisty ties)
-Mandrels in 7/8" and 1/4" sizes (I used a socket with a 7/8" outer diameter and a 1/4" aluminum rod. I do NOT recommend wood dowels. The pressure of bending the steel around wood will dimple the wood and leave you with improperly shaped rings.)
-A planter, and the plants and potting soil to fill it (obviously)
Well, let's get started...
Step 1: Step 1: Coiling Fun
To kick off this shindig, you're going to be making your own rings. I mean, why not? I did... (In all seriousness, if you can find strong, durable rings pre-made in these sizes...for the love of whomever you pray to do that instead)
To begin, grab the 1/4" mandrel. Take the 14g wire out of the packaging and wrap it around the rod in 1 or 2 turns. Once you have the start of it going you can grab a hold of it with the locking jaw pliers and clamp the wire onto the rod making the coiling process much easier for yourself. Spin to win. Make as big of a coil as you can and keep going. The closer you wrap the wire to itself on the mandrel, the better looking the rings will be so try not to leave gaps in your coil.
The same applies to the 7/8" mandrel. As big as you can, tight coil, yada yada yada...In the end, you're going to need about 4 times the amount of 1/4" rings as 7/8" so you'll need more coils of one than the other.
Now, the benefits of wrapping the coils is that you are manipulating the steel. This is called "work hardening". Every time the wire is bent, you're making the steel stronger. It's this principal that allows you to bend metal back and forth and break it. The seam gets so hard that it becomes brittle like glass and shatters at a molecular level. This is a very good thing when you consider that this hanging basket will be holding quite a bit of weight. Mine, at finish with soil, plants, and including the weight of the chainmail is ~40 lbs. The more the ring is formed, the more sturdy it will be, but also the easier it can break. Which leads us to the next step...
Step 2: Step 2: With This Ring, I, Thee, Weave...
...Cutting the rings.
Snip a little chunk off the end of the coil to cut the groove of the pliers onto it. The shape of the pliers, or profile, makes a pattern that allows you to stack one side on top of the other in closing the ring, allowing a small dimple. If you don't cut the end, that first ring will not have that profile to match up and the seam will be all funky. Those rings can be hidden if you know where to put it so it's not a big deal, but for a quality piece you don't want to use any of those messed up rings.
After you cut your rings, you have the opportunity to spot weld some of them shut. If you have the equipment, that is...If you are using galvanized wire, the smoke made is toxic so be careful. Ventilation is paramount.
Do not weld any of the small rings shut. Not yet, at least. They are your connection rings. You will be opening and closing those rings.
If you are not welding...Close all of the large rings anyway. You will not need them open.
Step 3: Step 3: the Aura Unit
We begin with 7 large rings that are closed and 9 small that are open. The pictures should provide pretty detailed info on what to do and how to do it.
You will need multiples of this unit to fit around your planter and these will be your support base.
Note to those welding rings shut. After each ring is closed, weld it shut. Check that your placement is right first, of course, but most rings welded shut will be a near indestructible piece.
It is easier to show than explain, so the details of the creation are in the pictures.
Step 4: Step 4: the Support Belt
Use 2 small rings to connect the aura units in the length required for your planter. If you'll have a gap, just use more small rings to lengthen the connection between units.
Welders...you know what to do...
Step 5: Step 5: Support Belt Attachment and the Most Dangerous Part of All
After you make the chain to length and attach the two ends together, you will need to put one of the small rings through the lip. This requires a hole that doesn't exist. Mark on the lip where the single small ring meets the plastic along the edges of the piece. Grab hold of a small closed ring, get it hot, and melt the hole through the plastic where you marked. It's really important to have those marks on the money if you want a good pleasing look.
After your holes are melted, use paper clips or twist ties to grab onto the small ring destined for those holes and feed them in. They will fall back out, so hook another small ring on it to keep it from falling back through. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Step 6: Step 6: Embellishment
Add as many units as you want. Just follow the pattern and fill it out however you'd like. I didn't add much.
Step 7: Step 7: the Hang Chain
For this I used Jen's Pind Linkage 3 variant. This is a fairly difficult weave to start but once it is established it is simple. I'm not going to go into detail explaining it. You can find a perfect explanation with rich detailed CGI pictures at http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisp...
If I were to explain it, I would confuse you and leave you frustrated. It's better to head over there. Their tutorials on chainmail weaves will impress you and you will see that this project is a very simple one. The possibilities are almost endless with what you can make these planters out of.
If you'd rather not, just use your small rings and connect double link chain about 1-2 foot in length. At each end, make 5 single rings pass through a set of 2. From those 5 rings, make 6" single link chains. at the end of these single chains, connect the rings sticking out of the planter lip.
Voila! You've completed the project!
Step 8: Hang Your Baby
Make sure that you hang this with something that is capable of bearing the weight of the entire project. Mine weighed about 40 lbs so I used 2 bicycle hangers that cost 49 cents a piece. I have yet to see how it holds to high wind, but it's fantastic and I'm pleased with it. Thanks for reading my Instructable and I hope you all find it informative and creativity inspiring!