When I first started really getting into jewelry making, one of the first things I tried was chain mail. I loved it. The idea of making my own chain with intricate designs really inspired me to find out all I could about ancient techniques and learn how to do this myself.
With a few simple tools, a couple pairs of pliers, a jeweler's saw, some wire or commercial rings and a tutorial, I got started right away. The first weave I learned was the box chain. This is the chain you see in the above photo in copper.
Of course, I started with stainless steel rings - one thing I didn't know was that stainless steel rings are very difficult to open and close. Those little suckers are tough. Now I understand why knights used chain mail for battle protection.
I made simple 2-2 designs like the long small chain shown in the picture to the left. When I felt comfortable with the weaves, I began to experiment with other wire types like sterling silver and copper.
With just these two simple weaves I designed bracelets, anklets, earrings and necklaces and at the same time built up Popeye the Sailor forearms. I'm telling you, the stainless steel rings are a great workout for your arms, but boy, they sure do like to be fussy.
I made these chains for friends and family and really got a lot of positive feedback. Next thing I knew, I was making chains for biker jackets, zipper pulls and wallet chains. This was great because I loved the meditative quality of weaving the rings. But, of course, I got bored and moved away from the chain mail when I discovered the process of soldering to make chain. This was much easier on my forearms and was a bit more interesting at the time.
A few years have passed since then and I've reignited my love for chain mail. I've been asked to make a few pieces for family so I pulled out the old rings and began to dust off my weaving skills. Of course, I also had to pick up a couple of new tutorials to swing some interest in the weaves as well.
This particular weave (to the right) isn't a new weave at all, but it's new to me. It's a full Persian weave and I really like how this is coming out. I started this chain for a replacement of a plain, chunky curb chain for a necklace design for my cousin. So far she's really digging the design.
Now that the necklace chain is complete, I have to design an appropriate infinity symbol to compliment the chain and give her something no one else has... She's all about the one-of-a-kind and that's my specialty.
I'm so inspired by working with the rings again that I have busted out the ring maker and have been making a bunch of different ring sizes to get started on some more complicated weaves. I've also decided to put this knowledge and fun into a new class to be available soon. This is something you can do sitting in front of the television. It's very calming and meditative, so I'm hoping to teach folks how to do this as a way to relax at the end of a hard day to recharge.
Let me know what you think of the weave and if you have any ideas for particular weaves I should teach, leave me a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.