Friday, November 13, 2009

Chain Mail, Part One

Chain mail has been with us for centuries! In all simplicity, it is connecting one ring to another to create armor, jewelry, juggling balls, handbags, you name it. However, connecting one ring to another is a bit more complicated than it might sound. Rings are made from wire, and wire has gauge (thickness); rings also have a diameter measurement that is variable, depending on how the ring is made. The relationship between the gauge and the diameter - a ratio - has an influence on how the linked piece looks and wears; it can also determine how easy or difficult it is to work with the rings.

Rings can be made out of many different materials: gold, silver, copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, steel, rubber, niobium, titanium ... they don't all behave the same way and they certainly don't all cost the same. I have particularly enjoyed working with aluminum, which can be anodized in many colors. There is the fun of trying different patterns AND seeing how the colors play with each other.

Whenever I try something new, I like to wear it for a while to see how it is. I LOVE wearing the anodized aluminum!! It is lightweight (but almost too lightweight for pierced earrings that hook - they tend to fall out of the ear lobe) and a pleasure to wear. And some of the weaves jingle - it's a nice sound.

Learning the different weaves has been an interesting process. A pair of pliers in each hand requires some coordination (which I don't have some days!). The anodized aluminum coating does not stand up to rough handling with the pliers - you have to practice. The rings come cut and slightly open, and every single ring has to be opened or closed to start, and if it is opened, it has to be closed at some point in the process of making the chain.


From top to bottom, left to right:
*Chaos Chain in black, turquoise, purple, red, pink
*Box Chain in blue, green, yellow, orange, pink
*Byzantine Chain in red, black
*Spiral Chain in golden, bronze
*A chain whose name I forget because it was the first one I learned, and that's been a while; it's done in purple and blue, and it has teal crystals dangling from it.


  1. Judy,those chain mail necklaces are fascinating! It is amazing how many ways those can be made..and of course the purples catch my eye. I think the style of the simple gold one is really very classy. Great work, Judy. Hugs, Cerelle

  2. I love the spiral chain particularly, but they are all really interesting looking

  3. You clever girl! I'm so impressed that you are doing these. It looks difficult to me. I think the box chain is my favorite. Love the rainbow effect of mixing the colors. Looks like you are getting ready for the Christmas market. Have fun! ~ Sarah