If you follow my Facebook page, you’ve probably noticed I’m a little obsessed with chain maille. It’s also likely you think of chain maille as strictly from the armor of soldiers in days of old, and if you’ve ever watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’ve most definitely seen chain maille like that. King Arthur, and just about any soldier in that film was wearing some sort of garb with the metal cloth.
As you’ll have seen from my newest work, chain maille is no longer just for soldiers. I took a class in chain maille jewelry in the Fall, and I thought it would be fun to share the process with you.
The first step in making this style of jewelry (after acquiring the wire) is making the rings. Almost as soon as I left the class, I ordered my very own jump ring maker (jump rings are rings that open), and Ed (my husband) made a beautiful base for it to live on. And with that, I was open for business.
It looks quite medieval, doesn’t it? Each of the spindles creates a different size ring. I’ve got one in the winder in the picture above. The next step is to take the wire and make the rings.
When I have either the number of spirals I need (each spiral represents one jump ring) or have run out of wire, it’s ready to cut into rings.
The spring-like spiral is ready to be cut, and I put it in the “coffin” part of the jump ring maker (sounds worse than it is…unless you’re the wire).
I have a Foredom high-speed rotary tool that I fit with a blade and special cover that fits over the “coffin” lid.
So, once the jump rings are cut, the next step is to lay out all the rings that I need and open those that need to be opened. I have this handy-dandy jump ring opener that makes the job soooo much easier.
Once the rings are all opened and counted out, the process of linking them all together begins. The first couple of links feels much like the first couple of rows in knitting where it’s hard to see the pattern. The juggling of rings and pliers keeps my hands nimble.
Here you can see the pattern is starting to come together. The blue rings are rubber o-rings. I’ve got red, blue, and black so far in my stock, but I’m always up for suggestions. If you request it and I can get it, I’ll happily get it for you.
A couple of hours later, the bracelet is done!
And because I was on a roll and inspired by this pattern, I went and made these earrings.
(Thanks to a gust of wind, one of the earrings turned at the last second, but trust me, they’re identical.)
Here are a few more pieces…all use the same process, but different size jump rings and patterns.
Chain maille isn’t just for kings and soldiers anymore. Check on my Facebook page and Etsy store regularly for more chain maille-inspired designs.
Until next month,