Making Great Steampunk Jewelry: A Brief History of Chain

A hallmark of the steampunk jewelry style is the use of metals, whether it's a romantic filigree, textured metal stamping, metal findings, or metal chain. The use of metals in steampunk jewelry is a nod to the industrial age, when art, romance, and invention all met at a crossroads in history. It seemed as though nothing was impossible, and people set out to create machines that would carry us to the skies, to the bottom of the sea, or even allow us to travel through time.

I have to admit, I wasn't an easy convert to steampunk jewelry. But once I got to thinking about how this particular style of beaded jewelry captured both the romance and the creative spirit during the era of modern invention, I was hooked.

Metal chain, of course, is a huge design element for most steampunk jewelry making projects. And when you know a little more about the development and use of metal chain throughout history, it gets even more interesting!

The earliest chains can be traced back to 225 BC when it was used to draw a bucket of water up from a well in Rome. Fast forward to the Renaissance (approximately 1300-1500 AD), and you have the great thinker, artist, and inventor Leonardo da Vinci making sketches of what would be the first "modern" chain used in industry. Da Vinci's sketches from the 1500s show chain with a roller bearing, something meant to decrease wear on the chain and improve movement, which wasn't actually manufactured until the 19th century!

In the early 19th century, chain was developed for use in the new invention, the bicycle. After that, chains began to show up in everything from the Wright Brothers' airplanes to the automobiles manufactured by Henry Ford.

So, I really love the idea the same chain that might have been used in the inventions that moved us forward in the age of invention are the same chains that we use to adorn ourselves with romantic jewelry. It's as if my inner history geek as met up with my artistic jewelry making brain, and they just decided to dance the night away!

Now, when you're using metal chain in your steampunk jewelry making projects, it's perfectly fine to use ready made chain from your favorite local bead shop or craft store. But if you are ready to take your jewelry making skills to the next level and learn how to make your own chain from wire, you'll want to check out Easy Jewelry Chain Making with Janice Berkebile on DVD. Janice has been working with wire for twenty years, and has been teaching at leading jewelry and beading shows for the last ten years.

Learn how to use basic wire wrapping techniques, easy cold connections, and beginner fused wire techniques to create three beautiful wire chains that you can customize for any of your steampunk jewelry making projects. Janice takes you through each project with step-by-step instructions and close-up shots so you can watch and learn anywhere, anytime. Order your copy of Easy Jewelry Chain Making with Janice Berkebile on DVD and get started today making your own custom wire chains for all your steampunk jewelry projects. (Or, if you absolutely can't wait to get started, you can download Easy Jewelry Chain Making with Janice Berkebile and watch it instantly on your desktop or laptop computer!)

What's your favorite steampunk jewelry design element? Is it the chain? The romantic, lacy filigrees? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts with us!

Bead Happy,


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