6 Chain Maille Jewelry-Making Tips, Plus Leather & Chain Maille Combine in One Cool Cuff
Whenever you combine two great things, the result is usually even greater, right? Like chocolate and strawberries, puppies and babies, sunshine and the seashore . . . and now, leather and chain maille jewelry making!
Jewelry artist Lauren Andersen combined these two trends–leather jewelry making and chain maille jewelry making–into her Chain Maille Lace Leather Cuff. “If you know me, then you know that I like to add chain maille to everything!” Lauren says. “I found these plain leather bracelet bands that screamed, ‘Add chain maille to me!’ . . . I think the result is a beautiful custom leather chain maille bracelet!” We agreed, so we made it into a super handy chain maille and leather cuff kit.
Before you attempt Lauren’s chain maille and leather cuff, we thought it would be a good idea to brush up on some chain maille jewelry-making tips and best practices.
- Open all the jump rings that need to be opened before you begin your chain maille jewelry making. In cases like this bracelet when you’re weaving some jump rings onto leather, you’ll have to open them wider than usual, so take care not to twist or distort them and use good opening techniques, which brings me to tip number two. . . .
- Christiane Ross recently shared with us her great wrist-saving tip for opening all those jump rings. “Since I started using larger-gauge rings, I learned to open my rings ‘backwards.’ I have the ring opening pointed towards me while supporting the metal of the ring in my chain-nosed pliers. I lift up on the right side, which pretty much uses my whole hand, wrist, and forearm as a lever, so I don’t stress my wrists alone.”
- When you have hundreds of jump rings to open, it’s a good idea to open them in smaller batches to give your hands and wrists a break in between. Then you can comfortably enjoy chain maille jewelry making for many years.
- Coating colored rings with a clear acrylic spray sealant will help preserve their color. But it’s tricky, because you don’t want to “glue” the rings together with the sealant. Chain maille expert Rebecca Mojica explains how to do it: “Spray a very fine mist into the air, and shake the chain maille into the mist. Continue shaking to keep the rings moving.” This technique keeps the rings moving while the sealant dries and prevents them from sticking together. Rebecca recommends repeating the process three to 10 times.
- When making chain maille jewelry with flat-nose pliers, Scott David Plumlee, an expert at chain maille jewelry making, opts for square-tip pliers with a shorter jaw. The shorter jaw allows you to work with less pressure from your hands but still achieve more pressure at the tip. It’s all about leverage, you know! This will cut down on hand fatigue.
- Buy all your jump rings from a single source if possible. “I recommend that you purchase as many jump rings as you need to finish a project from one source,” chain maille jewelry-making expert and author Karen Karon says. “Making substitutions can be tricky as subtle variations in jump rings from a different manufacturer could create a noticeable line of demarcation in your finished piece of chain maille.” (We’ve taken care of that for you in all of our kits for chain maille jewelry making.)
In the convenient Chain Maille Lace Leather Cuff Bracelet Kit, you’ll receive the finished leather cuff and all the jump rings you’ll use to create the chain maille weave on it–plus the December/January issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. This issue includes the complete chain maille lace leather cuff bracelet project tutorial by Lauren Andersen as well as nine other projects (including Kylie Jones’s Venetian Glass Earrings with chain maille bead caps shown above), loads of wire jewelry information and inspiration, and the exciting new products guide!