Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chainmaille Jewelry for Newbies

If you're like me, "chainmaille jewelry" brings to mind Renaissance Fairs, metal bras, and lots of intricate-but-drab steel chains.

Ah, but it turns out modern 'mail jewelry is so much more! Lookie!

 

I've been having an education through my friend Sharyn, who's recently fallen into the craft with a passion. She got me this Nouveau kit through Blue Buddha Boutique, and it's a great beginner's project; I finished in just a few hours with almost no prior experience.

The instructions in chainmaille kits are usually sold separately, but right now this one's free to download if you want to check it out.

The Nouveau kit is only for the necklace & earrings, but there were enough pieces left over that I made up this bracelet, too:


And here's another closeup of the earrings & pendant:

I loooove the colors.

(Still have to convert the earrings to clips, though. I was too impatient to wait to get the clips first!) 

In fact, all the colorful anodized rings available now are what make chainmaille SO much prettier to me. Here's a teal & orange Helm's Weave necklace Sharyn made me:


The flower bracelet is one I made back in college from a kit, back before colors were a thing, and the two next to it I had custom made at a convention a few months ago. Simple, but oh-so-pretty!

I asked Sharyn if I could show off some of her project pics, just to show you guys what's out there. Check it out:



 Patterns: "Bees to Butterflies" (a Byzantine variation) and Byzantine



The copper circles (the design is "Japanese Cross") remind me of shiny bubbles. So pretty! And that "Celtic Vision Star" pendant? Awwwwesome!

Here's Sharyn's latest project, which she's been colorfully cursing on FB:

Sharyn has a few books of patterns, but I found instructions for this one - called "Bicubix Blocks" - available as an instant download here on Etsy for $6.95. And here's a closeup of one of the blocks:

Apparently this is one of the trickier patterns Sharyn's done, so maybe hold off until you have some experience under your belt.

Oh! And speaking of things I found on Etsy, look how magical when you add glass beads to chainmaille:


This "glass caterpillar" is an original design by Etsy seller Kat Wisniewski: and she sells the full tutorial as an instant download for less than $7! Suh-WEET.

Or, if making one seems too daunting, you can also buy one from Kat for $75. Check out the rest of her shop for more tutorials and ready-to-wear jewelry like these pendants:




If you want to dip a toe in, just search for "chainmaille kit" on Etsy and you'll be inundated with choices. For tools your bare essentials are just two pairs of chain nose pliers, which are smooth inside so they won't scratch the rings. (Anodized/colored rings are extra easy to scratch, so you can further pad the pliers with plasti-dip, or improvise like I did and just wrap each side in electrical tape. :D)

I've already been having fun shopping for kits, so here are a few I'm eying now:







  Acute Helm's Weave kit & instructions, $10 - and you can choose from 14 different colors.

In addition to colorful anodized rings, there are also colorful rubber rings, so you can make stretchy bracelets like these:

"Byzantine Stretch Bracelet," kit & instructions $17


"Twist of Fate" stretchy bracelet kit & instructions, $17

And because I'm a sucker for rainbows:

"Shaggy Chainmaille Rainbow Earrings" kit & instructions, $12.50



Celtic Flower Pendant Kit & Instructions - your choice of colors, $15


Ok, I think I've given you enough shopping fodder, if you're interested! But if you want more, Sharyn recommends both Blue Buddha and Weave Got Maille for kits, supplies, and tutorials (which are sold separately.)

I've barely even scratched the surface of what's out there, of course, so if any of you more experienced 'maillers have links or advice to share, go wild in the comments, yeah?

43 comments:

  1. I love how classy and colorful these are.

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  2. One of, but wire can be played with, and combined with maille.
    https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/128032615/puzzle-piece-flower-pendant-rainbow

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  3. Wow.
    Just . . . wow.
    And your friend knows you well! That necklace is gorgeous!

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  4. My parents mocked me 10 years ago when in college, I bought a half mile of electric fence wire, a dowel, and set out to learn how to make chainmaile. Ten years later...well, see above. I love working with color but need to buy it now; the wire I can get my hands on simply doesn't compare to what the pros can make. though it does save me time on manufacturing -- now I can just do the fun parts. My new joy is scales -- those things are neat! I've abandoned my daily byzantine bracelet (bought, not made, so I could learn the weave) for a stretchy purple and black scale bracelet -- it's neat AND fun to play with. I'm terrible at updating my etsy shop, so take a gander at my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MagiciansAsst

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  5. OK, now I'm going to have to try an Acute Helm's Weave.

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  6. Your set is gorgeous! I was at the craft store about a month ago looking for some unrelated jewelry stuff and that was the first time I'd ever seen anything about chainmaile jewelry. I've yet to actually try it but every other day or so I think about jumping in so I think I'll do that soon. I've recently started practicing more with wire wrapping which is lots of fun. So I think chainmaile jewelry will be next on my list of things to try.

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  7. I need more hobbies and craft supplies like I need a hole in the head, but now I REALLY want to try this! My sister made me a beautiful and simple bracelet at a folk school last fall, and all I can think is how this would be perfect for every birthday and Christmas!

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  8. Anyone who's interested in supplies should absolutely check out www.theringlord.com as they have rings in all different metals or colours (and plastic), scales, tutorials... You name it. Guard your wallets!

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    1. Agreed! I have recently spent way too much on The Ring Lord for Polycarbonite scales (clear), blue, light blue and silver rings. Their customer service is awesome too!

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  9. Oh, yeah, jumpring jewelry. I've been doing that for years and never thought to market it as chainmail. So cool.

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  10. It's like rainbow loom for big kids :)

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    1. Exactly my thoughts and my 8 and 5 year olds are just getting in to those so how about something for Mum ;-)

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  11. I do chainmail for a living, both wholesale and local (and not as local events) Blue Buddha is a decent place for parts, but their sizing is hideously overly cryptic. If you want parts, go to the experts http://www.theringlord.com/

    There is very little reason to pay for tutorials, Most of them are available on the internet with a bit of searching. The best site is http://www.mailleartisans.org. Which is up and down lately, so try a few times. http://www.cgmaille.com/ is a great site for a limited number of totorials. and http://www.chainmailbasket.com/ has some excellent if a bit more complicated information

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  12. TheRingLord.com is a great source for rings! I've been buying in small amounts from my local bead store, need to order from Canada soon.

    I learned most of my chainmailling from free online tutorials, this design is from the chainmaille master at my bead store: https://www.etsy.com/listing/183418484/made-to-order-custom-beaded-chainmaille?ref=shop_home_feat_4 A different way to put beads in chainmaille! And then drop earrings are fun and simple, in European 4-in-1 style: https://www.etsy.com/listing/183419952/purple-chainmaille-earrings-with?ref=shop_home_feat_1

    I'll have to check out some of the tutorials others have linked to, always looking to learn more!

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  13. I taught myself chain mail a couple of years ago after I saw a chain mail Jayne hat at a silent auction. I lost the bid, then thought, "Maybe I can learn to make one myself!" So I did. I've made several of the Blue Buddha kits you pictured, in addition to the Jayne hat -- my project collection is here.

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    1. Oh that Jayne hat is awesome! I can't knit/crochet to save my life so I have been begging my SIL to make one for me. However, I can chainmaille so I do believe I know what my next project will be.

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    2. nice work! how comfortable are the badge lanyards? i saw them on the cruise and wondered how heavy they were...

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    3. The lanyards aren't especially heavy; they're made from anodized aluminum, so I really didn't notice the weight while wearing it. The only issue I had was that the chain would sometimes get kinked around where it joined to the clip part.

      If you're on the next cruise, feel free to come talk to me and try it for yourself!

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  14. I have several friends that have been doing chainmaille forever and a day now. So mad that I have a metal allergy and can't wear any of their awesome work.

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    1. Have you tried niobium yet? It's being touted as truly hypoallergenic. They're making some really great jumprings in niobium, and they are colored by anodizing, which results in fantastic colors that retain their hypoallergenic quality. I can't guarantee they'd work for you, but apparently a lot of people are having good results.

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    2. What metals are you allergic to? I've met people allergic to almost every metal except Niobium. I'm a jeweler by trade and keep very close track of this stuff. Titanium is a very rare allergy, as is Aluminum, 95% of the time when someone is allergic to metal it's Nickel. It's pretty vile stuff, the most common allergy in the US. Stainless steel is about 10% nickel. Surgical Stainless steel isn't any more hypoallergenic then any other stainless steel. Piercings in particular are gonna react first. If you find yourself reacting, try different metals. Niobium, Titanium, Gold and Silver are the safest choices for most people.

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    3. My daughter has at least a nickel allergy. She can wear Sterling Silver, but every gold necklace my mother has ever bought makes her itchy. Fortunately, she likes the look of silver better, as does my mother's other granddaughter. I'm pretty sure she finds it a bit perplexing, since she prefers gold.
      I'll have to tell my daughter to try some of the other options.

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    4. Gold is an uncommon, but not unknown allergy. But also because of the price and softness it's almost always an alloy. 14K gold is only about 60% gold. 9k gold (becoming more common) is more like 35% gold. The metals used in the alloy can by copper, silver, nickel, etc. They rarely tell you, most of the alloys are proprietary. Also it's often Plated rather then solid and they never tell you what the base metal is (unless it's sterling silver, which is uncommon). Be careful who you shop with, there are few bigger liars on earth then import jewelry dealers!

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  15. Jen, so excited to see chainmail "expanding its horizons" with color! These pieces are gorgeous! Now you've inspired me to wear the chainmail bracelet and earrings I purchased at a craft show years ago (unfortunately, no added colors, however).

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  16. Lovely! My college classmate does beautiful chainmaille work. She's new to etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SimpleComplication

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  17. I love the variety of examples and colors. I had no clue how pretty it could be.

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  18. I have a friend who does chainmaille bracelets & etc for a bunch of different charities. she's got a gofundme page right now. she does great work. http://www.gofundme.com/88le1s

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  19. Oooo! Oooo!! I could so get into this. It warms the cockles of my little OCD heart to think of putting these together.
    Arrrggg!!!! Where am I going to put all those supplies??? Curse you, Sharyn!
    (Not really -- love ya! "Weave Got Maille"? LOL

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  20. Pretty! :) Saw an artist last year at a small convention, part of a larger group that also makes outfits (including a bikini, I kid you not). Beautiful stuff!

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  21. Wow- I'm loving some of these chainmaille designs! I had never thought of being able to do such intricate things with it, and I love the addition of color. My husband had actually started making what was going to be a sleeveless chainmaille shirt, but ended up stopping due to the cost and time required. I might have to slowly start taking it apart and make some jewelry.

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  22. I've always been intrigued by chainmaille jewelry, but I've always worried that my hands couldn't hold up to it. Anyone have any input, does it hurt your hands putting these together?

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  23. Man- it's like Rainbow Looms, but for adults! Fun =]

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  24. Michelle- I started out on big tough rings, and yes, my hands got a bit sore from the exertion, but that was quickly forgotten and overcome. The smaller and finer rings are zero trouble except that it might help to have a magnifying lamp! :)

    Advice: Don't start on an intermediate/advanced pattern! ;) The above items look simple enough. I fell in love with the look of dragonscale, so that was ALL I was interested in making at first. I didn't even try anything else. I found instructions at cgmaille.com and jumped in, which leads me to my second piece of advice:

    If you're really struggling with a pattern, weave, or project, stop and look for alternate instructions. I've used the instructions at cgmaille.com for a lot of things, but sometimes there's another way of tackling the same exact weave and it makes a world of difference in how easy/difficult it may seem. I found about three different descriptions on how to do dragonscale and found one that was way easier to make than the first one I tried. The end result is identical, it's just in how you get there.

    And also, ring sizes matter. A lot. I started dragonscale on relatively large rings and made several swatches, but always disappointed that it was rigid and not supple like I wanted. I started over with smaller rings, and whoa! Huge difference. Silky and slippery in the new size.

    Now that I've done a lot more patterns, it still happens sometimes that something is frustratingly tight in certain ring sizes and aspect ratio, or heartbreakingly floppy and too loose in others.

    Tenacity, perseverance, adaptability, and google will be your friends.

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  25. I love the chain maille. Haven't tried it yet, but it's on my list of to do's.
    On a side note, has anyone else just inexplicably stopped getting their rss emails when epbot updates? I haven't changed any of my settings and even unsubscribed / resubscribed and nada. =(

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  26. Curse you! I don't need another craft to take up! Seriously, though I love that stuff. My fingers are itching to give it a try.

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  27. My bestie does chainmaille (I think she's on year 10?) that is both traditional and non-traditional. She also does beadwork and rosaries. Her etsy is here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/armatoracatena

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  28. So pretty! Might have to give this a try-- I've been itching for a new craft since I moved and had to leave behind a lot of my craft supplies with my parents. Although I must say I'm a little shocked at how pricy some of the kits are, especially if instructions are sold separately. Wouldn't think a bunch a little metal rings and a piece of paper telling me how to assemble them would cost so much!

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  29. I haven't played with chainmaille in a while, but when I did I made a watch and with both metal rings and rubber ones. If you use the rubber, be careful what combination of metal and rubber rings you use. My combo ended up discoloring the rubber. :(

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  30. Here's another one: <a href=
    'http://www.urbanmaille.com/"</a>

    The kits are really expensive, which is why (among other reasons) I haven't dipped my toes into that particular pond yet ;^)

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  31. Well, HECK. My link didn't go through. Here's the address: http://www.urbanmaille.com/

    Sorry, you'll have to cut-n-paste...

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  32. During my crowd sourced Christmas Ornament project, I got a really beautiful pair of chainmaille ornaments from this maker, Beth. https://www.etsy.com/shop/StarlightFallsDesign

    Her captured bead stuff is my favorite!

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  33. Thanks for including my Glass Caterpillar bracelet, Celtic Diamond Pendant and Bicubix Blocks kit. Welcome to the addiction!

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