Try This Easy Chain Mail Technique

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a
contributing editor to Beading Daily
I have a red Naugahyde chair in my studio with a reading lamp by it. Next to the chair is a little tin table on which my rather embarrassing number of magazine subscriptions is stacked high. At the top of that pile this week is the December/January 2011 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry. It has the sweetest little chain mail (a.k.a. chain maille) snowflake on the cover, and several wonderful chain-making  projects inside. Since I've had a recent interest in chain mail, I've found myself coming up with excuses to sneak into my studio more than usual ("Oh, sorry kids, but it's PB&J for dinner tonight; gotta work late!" As the door quietly closes and I snuggle into my big chair to savor all the projects . . .).

One great thing about my big pile of magazines is that the beautiful projects within spur me on to create my own designs. So this week, inspired by the simple chain mail chains in the most recent issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry, I thought I'd try my hand at designing a chain of my own. Now mind you, I'm no chain mail expert, not by a long shot. But I'm finding chain mail an easy, fun, straightforward technique. Plus, I always like to have a chance to get out my hand tools, a welcome change from using my usual needle and thread.

I came up with this little chain design that I thought you might like to check out. It's a simple chain with two different wire colors. Want to follow along and make it with me?

1) For this design, first open a couple dozen 5mm (I.D.) brass jump rings and close a few dozen 3.5mm (I.D.) silver-plated jump rings, just to get rolling. (It's not a bad idea to start your chain mail projects this way; it'll help stave off the frustration of having to steadily pick up and put down your tools.) I like using two different colors for this design so it's easy to keep track of where you need to connect.
2) Slide six of the closed silver-plated rings onto one open brass ring.
3) Use two pairs of chain-nose pliers to close the brass ring. Set the assembly down.
4) Pick up three silver-plated closed rings with one brass open ring, but don't close the brass ring yet.
5) Connect the open brass ring to final three closed silver-plated rings you added to the last ring.
6) Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to the desired length.

7) It's a pretty nice chain now, but I decided I wanted it to be a little stiffer, so I added one more set of brass rings so that the brass rings are doubled up.

Here's the final result. I could see using it as a bracelet, the chain on a necklace, or even as a ring.

Looking for more chain mail and wireworking inspiration? Do like I do and stockpile issues of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry.

Happy beading-

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