September Challenge: Chainmail Jewelry

September is all about picking up my jewelry crafting again.  This type of weaving is known as chainmail, maille, or mail and to avoid confusion when talking about it with friends, I’ve always called it chainmail.  Saying “I’m going to play with my mail this weekend!” sounds like I’m finally tackling that stack of paper in the entryway, which is not my idea of a fun weekend and so wouldn’t end in an exclamation mark.  Saying “I’m going to play with my chainmail this weekend!” is a sentence that always ends in an exclamation mark.

A friend taught me to weave chainmail in 2008 and I believe I started with a byzantine weave, though it might have been the European 4-in-1.  Both weaves are typical beginner weaves and can be learned via the internet and pictures just as easily as from a friend.  To learn chainmail on the cheap,  these are the tools and materials I started out with:

Needle-nose pliers
Curved pliers
End wire cutters

Another way to keep cost down, and to really get a feel for the whole process, is to make the rings.  A few things necessary to make “practice” rings and the crank and cradle or winder:

Aluminum wire (14 gauge spool electric fencing wire from Tractor Supply)
Metal rods (in a variety of common sizes: 1/2″, 3/8″, 1/4″, 3/16″, 1/8″) bent into the shape of a crank
C-Clamps (a small one to clamp the wire to the metal rod and a larger one to clamp the winder to the table)
2×4 piece of lumber (cut into three pieces, lengths and height depending on the length of the metal crank rod)

The resulting winder will look something like this:

There are plenty of designs online for making winders and demonstrating how to wind the wire, so I won’t go into that here.

The schedule for September is:

Week 1: Necklace
Week 2: Bracelet
Week 3: Keychain
Week 4: Anklet
Week 5: Earrings

So, how did week one go?

Tools for making chainmail jewelry, using a palette while lounging on the couch.


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