My First Adventures in Chain Maille!

Every once in a while, I am assigned a topic to write about here on Beading Daily that pushes the limits of what I know about jewelry-making. This time, it happened to be chain maille jewelry. I've never done anything with chain maille, and I was a little intimidated at the thought of opening, linking and closing all those tiny jump rings. Don't do it!, was the advice from Jewelry Making Daily's Tammy Jones. Tammy, apparently, resisted chain maille because she didn't think she had the patience to sit still and link all those little jump rings together, either!

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It doesn't have to cost a lot to get started with chain maille. Some jump rings and a couple of pairs of jewelry making pliers are really all that you need!

But what's life without a little jewelry-making adventure now and then, right? And since this is National Craft Month and I'm participating in the 30 Day Challenge being given by Fusion Beads, I thought, hey, this will be perfect for the Day 3 Challenge: Learn a New Beading Technique.

To get started, I looked for an easy chain maille project. Naturally, the first place I looked was in the Free Resources section of Beading Daily, and sure enough, I found a lovely chain maille pendant project. After reading some of Tammy's Jewelry Making Daily posts about making chain maille, however, I decided that I would wimp out and buy my jump rings instead of making them myself. (I'm not THAT brave!)

What I found when ordering my jump rings was that I couldn't find the correct size for the smaller rings. So I ordered one size that was a tiny bit too small and another size that was a tiny bit too large. I figured I'd experiment with each and see what happened with them when I tried to use them in the pattern. I also ordered a special ring for opening and closing jump rings, thinking that any new beading tool that can help me with my first chain maille project can't be a bad thing.

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My first chain maille pendant, accented with a huge Swarovski crystal pendant!

Once I had all my materials together, I sat down on a gloomy Sunday afternoon and turned on (appropriately enough) a documentary about the development of mathematics and set out to make my first chain maille necklace project!

So, here's what I discovered:

  • My chain nose pliers were pretty much useless for gripping those jump rings. I'm not sure if it was because I'm just not skilled at opening and closing jump rings like that or if my pliers need to be replaced, but whatever the reason, I found myself dropping the entire piece of chain maille over and over whenever I tried to grip one of the jump rings with the chain nose pliers.
  • The jump ring opening tool was great for opening the rings, but not so great for closing them. My flat nose pliers worked much better for closing my jump rings, even when I had to nudge them into a tight space. I couldn't actually slide it all the way down my finger like a regular ring, but wearing it higher up on my finger gave me better control when I used it for opening my jump rings. It definitely made that chore faster!
  • The smaller size of the copper jump rings just didn't work for this project. But I noticed when using the larger size of the copper jump rings that each row of links turned out a bit tighter than I think they should have been. To compensate for this, I decided to just link the rows together at the ends instead of throughout the entire row. The result was a substantial piece of chain maille with a lovely drape to it!

And wouldn't you know it — right after I finished my first chain maille pendant, I discovered that I had a large Swarovski crystal drop pendant in my stash that matched the colors in the jump rings perfectly! All that's left for me to do is make a beaded rope for it.

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Are you looking for a great beginners' chain maille resource? Chain and Bead Jewelry: Geometric Connections is the perfect resource for someone who wants to teach themselves how to do basic chain maille! More than twenty projects are fully illustrated with easy-to-read and color-coded diagrams to make it easy to learn how to make your own amazing chain maille jewelry. Order your copy of Chain and Bead Jewelry: Geometric Connections and start linking your way to beautiful metal jewelry.

What was your first chain maille project? Do you have any favorite suppliers for chain maille jump rings and tools? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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