by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong,

A gentleman/student-friend of mine, Jack from New Jersey, sent me an email the other day, asking about anklets. You have all heard me say that a lot of my personal inspiration comes from my students, thus the inspiration for this article.

It is the height of the summer season when women’s fashion calls for shorter skirts, Capri pants, shorts and longer halter dresses with side slits. Footwear includes heeled strappy sandals, decorative flip-flops or the lovely naked foot (which has been treated to a stylish pedicure). Therefore an important fashion accessory is the Anklet, as it calls attention to the legs and feet of a fashionable woman, charming and elegant no matter her age.

Now I am not going to go into major detail with regards to the history of the anklet, but you may find it interesting to know that this little jewelry item dates back 4500 years, to ancient Mesopotamia. That puts anklets in the same time line as wire jewelry! Ankle bracelets were and still are an important cultural accessory for women in India. North American women began wearing anklets in the fashionable 1950’s, and from the 1960’s through today (2010) we see anklets worn by both men and women. I also have to give fashion credit to the early Egyptians as anklets were worn by almost everyone; the rich whose anklets sported gemstones to show their wealth (predominately turquoise and lapis) while the less fortunate adorned their anklets with charms and amulets, later moved to the wrist to become . . . charm bracelets!

Anklets can be made from about any material. Some are simple pieces of leather, single strands or braided, with or without a charm or bead embellishment, which are tied around an ankle. Trendy anklets include those made of plastic-similar to a braided lanyard; fabric or rickrack adorned with tiny bells for dancers; braided embroidery floss – the ‘friendship’ anklet; stretchy, etcetera. Fashion anklets are made of both precious and base metals, some a simple decorative chain, while others incorporate beads and/or set gemstones.

Making different styles of anklets is easy and fun! From casual to more formal designs, with a bit of wire, chain, beads, maybe a snapset CZ stone or two and a good clasp, you will be able to satisfy any customer.

The most common anklet lengths are from 7 to 10 inches, however by following a few of my suggestions, your designs can be as versatile as your customer desires. To customize an anklet, using a measuring tape, measure around the person’s ankle, right where they would like it to lay, and then add half an inch. Another way to measure is to use a length of chain, in the same manner, and then measure the length of chain needed, subtracting the length of the desired clasp. Adding an additional 1 to ¾-inches of chain to the desired finished length adds size versatility to any anklet design.

Use a 4-inch piece of 22-gauge round wire with a wrapped loop at each end (insert the chain before the loop is wrapped closed) with a pretty combination of beads in the center and finish with a trigger clasp. The clasp will fit into any of the chain links, so a small headpin charm has been added to the opposite chain end, acting as a weight-dangle. This ‘beaded center’ anklet design can dress up or down, depending on the beads used. (You could even make earrings and a simple pendant charm to match, for your ‘sun goddess’ customers.) To make it even more simple, here are the stepped out directions for my Easy Agate Anklet.

Just remember to be careful about the bead choice as some materials like freshwater pearls, fluorite and turquoise (to name a few) will not hold up well in the summer sun, chlorine in pools and hot tubs or salt water. A ‘water-fun’ anklet is a good time to use whimsical beads made from shells!

For an elegant summer wedding or dinner, an anklet made of 14kt gold filled chain with freshwater pearl and crystal drops will certainly add sparkle to a tanned leg in a pair of summer heels. Use a length of medium weight chain; add a few wrapped headpin drops and a nice clasp-Done!

Entertaining young girls at a sleepover or a birthday party can be a piece of cake if you add a craft table. Provide some elastic cord, brightly colored glass, plastic or wooden beads, maybe some alphabet and number beads (depending on the guests ages) and Ta Da! Instant fun and a take-home anklet party favor, possibly personalized with their name or the date of the event.

If you wish to offer a slightly different product to your customers, try attaching a chain from the anklet at the top of the foot to an adjustable toe ring, to fit the big toe. In Eastern cultures, this chain was added to force a smaller/shorter step for the ladies. (Similar to a slave bracelet, but for the foot.) The ‘Lady Bugs’ sample, shown below, is a combination of four headpin charms that I used to attach two chain lengths together, before wrapping in the final loops.

Now, in closing I have to tell you that my ‘ending’ has changed. WS Faculty member Charley Key came by my studio yesterday afternoon and had a question about making ‘boot bracelets’ (thus my new ending). You can take all of the ideas in this article, use a heavier weight chain, add a couple of inches and . . . Ta Da!! Boot bracelets are born for the winter and fall season.

Now go and have some fun decorating ankles and enjoy the summer in ‘style’!

Always Twisted,                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dale/Cougar