Chainmaille Experiments

Ever since my teens I have had a fascination with jewellery making techniques, especially those that satisfy my need for a sense of order. Chainmaille therefore serves both of these requirements very well and I’ve had great fun trying out different variations and combinations so I thought that I would share with you a selection of my favourite creations.

This journey of experimentation with wire began with a book called Handcrafting Chain and Bead Jewelry: Techniques for Creating Dimensional Necklaces and Bracelets by Scott David Plumlee (yes, this is a link to Amazon in case you wanted to get hold of a copy).

The book was full of tips, techniques and ideas on how to turn basic wire into some amazing creations and I really wanted to have a go so I set myself a day or two aside and got stuck in.

The materials needed were simple enough to get hold of: Wire (obviously), wire cutters, two pairs of fine tipped jewellery making pliers and a mandrel around which to form the jump rings (I tried a knitting needle first but found the jump ring mandrels from Beadalon were much better).

For these experiments I obviously didn’t want to waste lots of valuable silver so I used the cheapest wire that I could find, which is probably why some of the examples below now look a little tarnished. I’m not worried about that though, this was about learning the skill of working the wire into the beautiful chainmaille patterns rather than having a finished piece at the end of it.

I spent a wee while creating the jump rings (possibly easier to buy pre-made but I wanted the full experience of creating these from basic materials) and then set to work.

The first one that I had a go at (several times) was the Byzantine Chain. The Byzantine chain is fairly tight in construction but still flexible enough to make a bracelet or a necklace from it that will have a nice drape to it. This design can be created in all sorts of wire thicknesses; the thinner the wire, the thinner the resulting chain. With my fat sausagey fingers I did however stick with mostly thicker gauge wires.

Here is a look at some of my first attempts.

Byzantine Chainmaille
Byzantine Chainmaille

Building on that technique I really wanted to have a go at what was called the Crown Design. This was a technique of adding some additional rings at pre-determined spaces to create points along the length of a Byzantine chain. The result was good but I feel that I might need to pay more attention to how I cut my jump rings so that I get neater ends. Here is the Crown Design Byzantine chain that I made.

Byzantine With Points Chainmaille
Byzantine With Points Chainmaille

Next up, and following the book that I was learning this from, I started to mix up the pattern and added some ‘spacer’ rings into the Byzantine structure. This gave a great overall look and meant that I could have hung charms from the spacer rings (might have a go at making some charms soon).

Byzantine with Double Chain Spacers Chainmaille
Byzantine with Double Chain Spacers Chainmaille

Finally I had a go at the Inca Puno technique. It’s a bit like the Byzantine but you don’t reverse the links so you end up with a snake like chain, as you can see below. I liked it to some degree but prefered the Byzantine style if I am truly honest.

Snake Chainmaille
Snake Chainmaille

Anyway, they were just some trials and some day I hope to get some Sterling Silver wire and create a full bracelet with charms, but for now, I have the technique under the belt at least.

So what do you think? Is it something that you think you would like to have a go at? Did you like what I made?

Anyway, thank you for reading this post and I look forward to bringing you more in the future.

J :)

5 thoughts on “Chainmaille Experiments

  1. Hi John ,
    Your chain making work is stunningly brilliant, i love your Byzantine chains and the more complicated crown one is amazing. I can hardly believe your first attempts at the Byzantine chains are so very good especially making your own jump rings as well, but you are so very talented so I’m not surprised really.
    You must have so much patience to make something like these chains.

    I’d love to see any more work you do on these and especially any charms you make would be brilliant to see. Have you had any more ideas along these lines to make them?

    I like the look of the melt pot UT filled metal charms but I’d be too scared to try making them myself as I’m accident prone and can see the UT going everywhere and burning me! Maybe when I haven’t got a dog who likes to jump up and bark at me when she gets bored of me crafting would be the time for me to give it a go!?

    Best wishes from Katie-Louise


  2. These are great, don’t think I’m at that stage yet, as I have only dabbled in jewellery making. Great post though, and thank you for sharing


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