Chain Making: Meditative Chain Maille
Since the explosion in popularity of coloring books, there has been a great deal of focus on the therapeutic and calming attributes of crafting. It’s as if non-creatives are suddenly catching on to what makers have always known . . . there is a whole lot of joy that can be had from unplugging and working with your hands!
One jewelry art I find incredibly calming (even more so than coloring books!) is chain maille. Bringing order to the chaos of a pile of jump rings by weaving a repetitive pattern can be just as soothing as a walk in the woods or a glass of wine. I sigh and relax just thinking about it.
If chain maille doesn’t calm you in the same way, I have a few tips to help make the process more enjoyable.
Tips for More Enjoyable Chain Maille Weaving
Jump Rings at the Ready
Yes, jump rings are really easy to make, but I’ve found that using pre-made jump rings makes chain maille much easier. If there is a new weave you’d like to try, order up a pack of rings in the recommended gauge and diameter for that weave. Taking the guesswork out of the chain maille equation will ensure a successful finish weave. I like to take a few minutes before I start weaving to open up a bunch of rings in one pile and close a bunch in a second pile. I find it’s much easier to get into a good flow if the rings are prepped ahead of time.
There is an old adage about using the right tool for the job and it couldn’t apply more to chain maille weaving. Jump rings are small and some weaves will have you threading rings in and out of tight spots. Using pliers designed for chain maille makes that job a breeze. I’ve recently started using two snub-nose pliers and love them. I find my grip on the rings slips less with these precision tips allow for easy maneuvering in tight spaces, and my hands don’t tire as easily.
Clear, Concise Instructions
I can’t stress enough how important the “how-to” can be for understanding chain maille. My personal preference is for project instructions that are illustrated, not photographed. Illustrations make seeing the path your rings will travel so much easier than a photograph of rings already woven in place. Illustrations don’t have the extra visual noise that a photo has, like shadows and reflective highlights. It makes even the most complex weaves achievable. Both of Karen Karon’s books, Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop and Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop, have step-by-step illustrations for each weave.
Keep it Simple Starting Out
While complex and advanced weaves can be achievable with great instructions, they do require more attention. So, when starting out and looking for a weave that’s more meditative, keep it simple. I find Half Persian 3-in-1 is perfect for this. I’m able to remember “under, over, through” and repeat it in my mind each time I add new rings.
With these few tips, chain maille couldn’t be easier or more calming for me. Which crafts help bring your stress level down? Share in the comments below!
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