Autodidact: self-taught

Mar
09
2015

EmbellishMaille

by V. L. Craven

I was looking around for an everyday choker. Lazy but fashionable, I wanted it to be attractive but didn’t want to have to take it off to shower. After listlessly poking the internet a bit I eventually came upon EmbellishMaille’s Etsy shop .

I knew what chainmaille was, but I’d never looked at it up close and certainly didn’t know it came in different patterns or weaves. After seeing the impressive, intricate styles available, I contacted the owner and requested an interview and she graciously agreed.

Lucid Chainmaille Choker ($35.95)

Lucid Chainmaille Choker ($35.95)

How did you get into making jewellery?

There was a time when I was looking at chokers and as I was doing a Google Image search, I came across a lot of chainmaille. I was intrigued and fascinated by the variety of patterns and even color designs. I took a look at a few instructions for some of the patterns considered “for beginners” and thought, how hard could it be? I invested about $50 into some start up materials and it’s been a growing passion. The only limit is my own imagination. I love that it empowers me to get creative and have an outlet to express myself.

Helm Weave bracelet ($18)

Helm Weave bracelet ($18)

How long have you been making jewelry?

I started around the Spring of 2011.

Do you have a favourite piece to make or a favourite style chainmaille?

My current obsession has been the Jens Pind Linkage or JPL pattern. It reminds me of a classic rope braid weave that is pretty durable and unisex.

Music Lovers Bracelet JPL ($18)

Music Lovers Bracelet JPL ($18)

What’s the most complicated style to make? How long did it take you to master that style?

There’s a pattern called Elfweave that I remember being fascinated with when I was first exploring different weaves that I wanted to try in the beginning. I had tried the weave three or four times over the course of the last three years and it wasn’t until about six months ago that I could finally wrap my head around the instructions. The instructions were very clear and included photos, but for some reason it just baffled me. Once I finally rolled up my sleeves and took some time to understand it, the pattern itself wasn’t as complicated as I was trying to make it. Sometimes there are weaves that don’t have instructions and those can be tricky to visually break the weave apart to try to re-create. The key for me has been to go into a new weave with a clear head.

Elfweave Chainmaille necklace ($45)

Elfweave Chainmaille necklace ($45)

What’s your most popular piece?

The most viewed item is my “Lucid” Choker , which is something of a modified helm pattern. The most popular piece actually purchased is a toss up between the new custom photo pendants and the helm weave choker.

Have you ever tried to invent your own weave?

Not yet, though most people that have created patterns did so by accident. Or they will look at a pattern and say, “I wonder what happens if I do this with the ring instead of that.” There are a ton of variations out there by other folks that have tinkered and invented a new pattern. I think I came to do chainmaille a little late in the game and that most variations I would think of have probably already been done before. One never knows though!

Zig Zag Byzantine Necklace ($49.95)

Zig Zag Byzantine Necklace ($49.95)

What would you say to someone who was interested in trying to make chainmaille jewellery? What resources would you recommend?

For anyone interested in making chainmaille I will offer a few tips to know before getting supplies and such…. 1. is that doing chainmaille, not just jewelry but anything can be tedious. Most of it is taking a small segment and repeating it over and over again. For some that’s too monotonous. If you have any sort of carpel tunnel or arthritis, I don’t recommend it.

I would also suggest getting some good pliers. There are different types of pliers for different metals. Since I use aluminum, a flat thin nose and a flat, slightly fatter nose pliers works for me. If someone plans to use steel, I’ve heard that pliers with teeth will be more suited for the task. As for other metals, I’m honestly not sure. However there is one website that has a ton of patterns, photos, forums, etc on everything chainmaille.  mailleartisans.org The registration is free and they have a gallery and you can search the weave library and so forth.

As for rings, different people use different places. I started out using theringlord.com and then added stores.ebay.com/ americanchainmail as another option. Some people make their own rings and that’s awesome, but not something I have ever wanted to get into. There’s also some great videos on YouTube for learning patterns.

Stepping Stones Weave bracelet ($17.95)

Stepping Stones Weave bracelet ($17.95)

What materials do you use and why do you use them? Can you shower in them?

When I got started, my budget was tight. I wanted a shiny metal and anodized aluminum offers the shine without tarnishing like silver. It’s affordable, comes in a variety of colors and sizes and is really just easy to work with. The anodized aluminum is pretty easy to clean with the BLUE Dawn hand dish soap and warm water. Depending on the weave, it might recommend having a spare toothbrush to get into the crevices. I do have customers that wear their jewelry everyday including in the shower and I haven’t had any complaints yet. For anyone with metal sensitivity, aluminum also seems to be a great alternative.

You can follow the shop on Facebook: EmbellishMaille  and of course the Etsy site is here .

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