Friday, February 27, 2009

Chain Maille Jewelry Making Tips

By on Friday, February 27, 2009 5 Comments

I enjoy doing chain maille jewelry. I used to be a knitter so the rhythm of opening and closing the rings is as soothing as knitting and purling once were. But chain maille is not for everyone. Some may find it too repetitive or too difficult to see the spatial requirements of this type of jewelry making. Perhaps the tips shown here may make the difference between loving chain maille or abandoning it altogether.

TOOLS

You need broad nose pliers and the opposite side of bent nose pliers. You could use two broad nose pliers too if you have the extra. The width of these pliers will provide a better grip than chain nose pliers.

The size of the pliers also matters - all pliers are not created equally! You have to go with a smaller size - one that fits your hand comfortably. I use the red handled ones below for my left hand as my palm and fingers enclose it more easily than the bigger blue handled ones.



Stainless steel is corrosion resistant but there is a price to pay for that feature - the rings are hard to handle. If you are struggling with stainless steel rings which are the toughest to open and close properly, you may wish to use hardware store pliers with teeth just to get the grip.

Some people also like using the jump ring ring (shown at left) because you only need one pair of pliers. The slots in the jump ring ring helps keep the ring still as it is being opened or closed. The jump ring ring works best if the jump ring metal used is soft, not too thick and the jump rings are not too small.

I personally prefer the two pliers method as I find the force of opening and closing thicker gauge rings soon makes my left forefinger sore.

EASY STARTS

Many chain maille weaves are not that difficult once you get going but they are often a pain to start. The best way is to use wire ties, scrap wire, large ring or safety pin on the beginning pairs of rings as shown below left for the Byzantine chain. The ties allow you to grip the first crucial rings properly into position. For some weaves like the Full Persian, I use two ties, one for each of the two starting pairs so I can position them properly before commencing the weave (see link below).

One clever way to weave is to hang several rings on a long length of scrap wire. Druid Queen came up with the wire idea for her Half Persian 3 in 1 and the Half Persian 4 in 1 tutorials. Alternatively you can try azul_chromis' nifty yarn trick for starting and doing the Half Persian 4 in 1.



SPEEDING UP THE PROCESS

Most chain maille artisans soon learn to pre-close (or even pre-open) a number of rings before starting so they are all ready for use.

If you can train yourself to do it, don't put down a working Byzantine chain or your tools. Instead, palm the left hand broad nose pliers (that's why you you want smaller pliers) whilst you are hooking on a jump ring (below left). Similarly, your left hand fingers hold on to the chain whilst you are opening or closing rings using both tools (below right).



For the European weaves, the opposite is true. It helps to put them down at least in the beginning until you are accomplished. For the European 4 in 1, for example, you can make up groups of 4 rings on linking rings (dark brown)and then join them up with more linking rings. Or if you are not that agile with the rings, then just prepare 2 rings on a linking ring and join to the main chain.




More Chain Maille Posts:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

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5 comments:

  1. You have been busy (or are busy) with chain maille lately. Really like what you are doing. Very clear. Your tips are very helpful. Looking forward to your tutorials.

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  2. I know! If I want some chain maille I am going to have to buy it because it's obviously too tough on my hands, I have arthritis in my thumbs. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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  3. Thanks for these tips, Pearl! I nearly went nuts about the beginning of Half Persian. But once started it is an easy and beautiful weave making bold necklaces or bracelets. Bev gave me the hint taking a bulldog clip to hold the first three rings in place.

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  4. Actually these tutorials are long overdue. These are not only reference posts for myself but for anyone else I teach at my workshops. And naturally to share with all of you.

    Great tip with the bulldog clip, Bev! And thanks for mentioning it, Dagmar. It's those first 2-3 rings that are the hardest to grip in order to get started.

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  5. Out of so many tutorials out there on chainmaille, yours are by far one of the best! I struggled with HP for the longest time until I found your videos, so clever!! Many thanks for sharing!

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