Ah, Chainmaille.

Celtic Wheel

In the “useful skills to survive a zombie apocalypse” category, I’ve acquired chainmaille-making skills, focusing on aluminum rings. (Which, incidentally, are a HECK of a lot lighter than other metals.) The trick to bending and weaving appropriately, is to a) be a touch obsessive-compulsive b) have the proper tools and c) realize that yes, indeed. Size does matter.

Anything seed bead or ring or component-related requires proper measurements to ensure that the elements fit together. (If seed beads or crystals aren’t cut precisely, it can throw a pattern off, too.) The important thing to remember with rings is that math is important! There is the inside diameter, outside, and gauge of wire to consider. Not to mention, what type of weave (4-in-1, Persian, Japanese chainmaille, etc.) you want to make.

There are tons of patterns you can explore for armor, jewelry, sculptures, and yes, the dreaded chainmaille bikini. (Though, why anyone would want to wear that much metal to cover their private bits is beyond me. Think about it. Metal is a conductor so if it gets hot? Well, you get the idea.)

But I digress. There’s a few books on the subject for jewelry-making purposes that are pretty outstanding. Classic Chain Mail Jewelry, which highlights my favorite weave — Byzantine — includes a ton of ideas for earrings, bracelets, necklaces and the like. There’s also an international organization of chainmaille specialists (http://www.mailleartisans.org) that offer a variety of weaves for you to peruse.

Rubber rings have been slowly added into chainmaille jewelry patterns for the past few years and I’ve dabbled a bunch with these. Link It! has some stunning designs that require bending and twisting — but again. Size matters, especially when you’re bending and twisting rings into submission. (Sigh. I’m behind on a challenge with these. I received a packet of teeny tiny rubber rings that resemble mold. Still haven’t done anything with those yet. Though I fear I should…)

Materials can get somewhat expensive especially if you’re working with natural metals (e.g. gold, silver, etc.) I focus on aluminum, copper, and rubber primarily, but the biggest trick I’ve learned to reduce cost of materials is to have a pattern that you want to make and budget for 10% extra (in case you screw up). Buying rings for the sake of purchase can put a real dent in your budget.

Bonus achievement unlocked! Don’t think I’ll have to spend much time researching types of weaves (and what they look like) for any story of mine. Though, the only real ditty I’m missing is what era these individual basic patterns hail from. (Chainmaille in general dates back to 400 B.C. and there are over 1,000 weaves documented.) Which is funny, because you’d “think” there’d be a historical book on the topic, but alas… Likely in the armor section.

    Mood: Inquisitive with a side of eyebrow raise.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: *ERROR* *ERROR* Does not compute. *ERROR*
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Some monstrosity of an elliptical machine.
    In My Ears: Come Back To Me Janet Jackson
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Resident Evil: Apocalypse
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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