From Chain Maille to Beads: Conquering the Dodecahedron

After my last couple of experiments with chain maille, I was feeling brave, so I decided to attempt my most difficult chain maille project yet: a Japanese chain maille ball, otherwise known as a dodecahedron.

Pretty little dodecahedron balls, all in a row!

I first saw this style of chain maille when I met the fabulous Kim Edwards at Bead Fest Philadelphia last August. Of course, her chain maille dodecahedron balls were a little more complex than mine, since she makes hers out of glass in a torch. I figured using metal jump rings would be much easier.

To get into the spirit of the mathematical principles behind the chain maille dodecahedron, I decided to watch a documentary about mathematics while I was working. It was a nice idea, but listening to the narrator talk about numbers and math while trying to count jump rings probably wasn't the best idea — it took me three attempts just to get the base right!

My two Japanese chain maille balls.

After that, though, the rest of the chain maille ball went together much easier than I thought. Once again, I found myself completely drawn into the rhythmic nature of the linking and closing of the jump rings, and the entire project went together in less than an hour. Spectacular!

I wasn't thrilled with the colors that I chose for my first dodecahedron. After looking at it on my bead tray, I had no idea what I was thinking when I picked those neon yellow and purple aluminum jump rings. Where was I, 1986? I dug through my stash of jump rings and found some lovely brown and brass rings, slightly smaller, that made a delicate and much more aesthetically pleasing Japanese chain maille ball.

Once I finished my two dodecahedron balls, I was hooked: I wanted to do more!

So, I wondered: what if I could do these with beads?

Looking at the instructions that I purchased from Blue Buddha Boutique, I devised a way using Czech fire polish beads and seed beads to make a small dodecahedron. It went together in just minutes, and now, totally obsessed, I grabbed some tiny 3mm round beads and stitched up another.

If you look closely, you can see the tiny dodecahedron sealed inside the larger ball. Fun stuff!

Then the light bulb went off in my head. I wanted to make a tiny dodecahedron and seal it within a larger one!

It was easier than I thought. The first dodecahedron went together with some more 3mm round druks in just a few minutes, and to capture it, I made a second dodecahedron using a strand of vintage glass beads from the Beadin' Path. I threaded a simple piece of leather through it, tied it around my neck, and haven't taken it off since!

What excited me most about this project is that not only did I get a big boost in confidence in my chain maille skills, I'm now hooked on the idea of how I can make and use these dodecahedron balls with my favorite round glass druks and fire polished beads. It seems like the sky is the limit!

Are you looking for ways to give your own chain maille skills a boost, and maybe find some new inspiration for your beading projects, too? Then you don't want to miss a single issue of Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. You'll find dozens of fabulous projects, tips, tutorials, and product reviews from all your favorite wire artists, plus fresh, new designs from emerging talent! Subscribe to Step By Step Wire Jewelry and find more ways to broaden your jewelry-making skills.

Have you ever created a beading project that was inspired by a completely different set of jewelry-making skills? Or did you combine two different mediums (like chain maille and beads) into something completely new? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your experiences with us. Or better yet, take a picture of your mixed-up beading project and post it in the Reader Photo Gallery!

Bead Happy,


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