7 Easy Chain Maille Tips for Successful Chain Maille Jewelry Making
No matter what jewelry-making technique you’re learning or have been doing for years, nothing beats a good tip, right? Even if you’ve mastered a technique such as chain-maille jewelry making, a good tip can save you hours or time and lots of money–not to mention frustration!
Here are 7 chain-maille jewelry making tips for you to learn or improve your processes and have more fun:
- Many chain-maille jewelry makers prefer to make their own jump rings. You can use a variety of items as mandrels when making our own jump rings, including metal knitting needles (which come in a variety of sizes), a length of pipe, a wooden dowel, a pen or marker, even a pencil.
- Digital calipers are perfect for measuring the exact diameter of mandrels for making jump rings or the jump rings themselves, in millimeters or inches. They can measure to the hundredth of a millimeter; that amount of precision is important for chain maille.
- Be prepared with extra supplies. Keep more jump rings on hand than you actually need for a project, in case some get bent, lost, or broken. Also, buy all the supplies for a project from a single source. Substituting can create a noticeable difference in a chain-maille weave or even ruin a project due to subtle differences in jump rings from different manufacturers.
- When making your own jump rings, note that one mandrel won’t necessarily create the same size jump rings in different metals. When the coiled wire is released, it loosens in what is known as springback. The tension in the metal, determined by the type of metal it is, determines how much springback the metal has. Stiffer metals have more spring, which will produce jump rings with an ID slightly larger than the mandrel. This is important to keep in mind if you intend to mix metals in a project or if you want to make jump rings with an exact ID.
- Buy only saw-cut jump rings. Their flush-cut edges create perfect closures. If you make your own, saw them apart instead of using wire cutters, unless you’re mindful to use flush cutters properly every time while making chain-maille jewelry.
- Store jump rings labeled with the gauge, ID, metal type, and source/manufacturer information. When you need to order more, you’ll know which ones and from where to order ones that match when your chain-maille jewelry supply stash gets low.
- Think below the surface. If you’re using plated wire of any kind, note that all the moving around and metal-against-metal rubbing in chain maille can wear off the plating if it isn’t good quality or very thick. Also never tumble anodized aluminum jump rings because the color, which is just a surface treatment, can wear off.
Now that you’re armed with seven lucky chain-maille weave and jewelry tips, have fun making unique handcrafted chain-maille jewelry!