Sneak Peek of Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Weaving with Rings & Scale Maille

Chain maille fans, you've been so patient–here's your reward! Karen Karon's book Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop: Weaving with Rings & Scale Maille is finally here. Here's a sneak peek inside, with part of a section about going beyond chain maille basics and creating more complex chain maille jewelry designs.

More Complex Techniques
By Karen Karon, from Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop

The weaves in this book are definitely more complex than those in Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop. However, gaining the ability to construct more complex weaves is only one aspect of becoming an advanced maille weaver. There are other complex skills you can develop and techniques you can try that will greatly expand your design choices.

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Closing a Weave From End to End

This is always tricky but definitely worth learning. Forming closed circles is essential for creating rings, claspless bracelets, or long necklaces. These forms can also be used in unique ways, such as for bails, bezels, connectors, and design elements. How about nonjewelry applications, such as napkin rings or curtain ties? Specific instructions for closing several of the weaves are included in the weave chapters.

Weaving Micro-Maille

Using tiny-sized jump rings greatly elevates the difficulty level of even the most basic weave. The jump rings are difficult to see and handle. You need to have manual dexterity, steady hands, and proper tools. Whether weaving regular size or micro, I prefer full-size flat-nose pliers. I find that the Tronex brand short-jawed flat-nose pliers have tips that are just slightly thinner than other pliers I've tried and fit into the tiny spaces better, making it easier to grasp the jump rings. Magnification is vital. Make sure you have proper eyewear and good lighting. Starting aids can be helpful. Try tape, tiny safety pins, or bits of thin wire. Also, lay off the caffeine to keep those hands steady.

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Working Large

When I refer to working large, I don't mean using large jump rings. In fact, I start off my beginners with relatively large jump rings (16g) as they are easier to grasp and see–and they work up quickly. What I am referring to when I say "working large" is the ability to tackle projects that are large in size and scope, projects that involve many hours of labor and thousands of jump rings.

Play With Aspect Ratio

Don't be afraid to use the AR calculation! It can help you make jewelry to proper scale, which looks better and will be more comfortable to wear. In the book, 16- and 18-gauge jump rings are recommended because they are the most common gauges used. But they may not be the best choice for your particular project. In general, I use 16g or 18g for most bracelets and necklaces and 20g or 22g for most rings and earrings, but not always. It really depends on the project. Playing with scale can result in some interesting forms.

Also, adjusting the AR can enable you to create forms for different purposes. For example, I often tighten up the AR of some chain weaves to create small, stiff bits of chain to use as toggle closures and also as beads.

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Fixing Mistakes

I often hear my less experienced students say, "Something in this weave is not right," but they cannot figure out what it is. As a seasoned chain maille artist, you have the ability to look at a weave and not only see where a mistake may have occurred, but also figure out how to remedy the situation. This means that you are able to read the cues from adjacent rows and pattern repeats to figure out where to place jump rings in a weave. This skill is essential when trying to keep the edges of complex sheet weaves uniform.

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Take Speed Weaving Outside the Box

As they gain experience, many maille weavers begin to use speed weaving to improve efficiency by using preclosed jump rings when weaving. Speed weaving can also provide an opportunity for creativity. You can substitute other fun materials for those preclosed jump rings to add interest to your weaves. The size of the alternate material needs to be compatible with the size of the jump rings you are using in your weave, so you'll need to experiment. You can use any O-shaped item, such as rubber O-rings (which, if placed properly, can also add stretch to your weave), glass disk-shaped beads, washers, etc. –Karen

Advanced Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop is packed with new chain maille jewelry projects, including some innovative designs like a stretch cuff, a claspless bracelet, a ring, and lightning bolt earrings. The projects are divided into Persian weaves (GSG, Arkham, Crotalus, and viperscale), hybrid weaves (interwoven, dragonback, and Persian dragonscale), elf weaves (elf weave and Tiffany weave), and scale maille. Advanced Chain Maille also has plenty of charts to help you keep all your jump ring info handy, tips and "quick fix" info, and a special section on "terminations, attachments, and finishing touches" to help you create cool chain maille designs (such as those bracelets with no clasp!).

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