Wow. I love chain mail. In 2003 my son started begging me to make him a chain mail gauntlet — ROM summer camp influence I think. So I discovered The Ring Lord in Saskatchewan and ordered green aluminum jump rings and went online in search of instructions. I found a wonderful online resource library of chain mail weaves at mailleartisans.org and started to play.
I was an avid needle worker at the time, creating intricate samplers with silk on linen but I was fascinated, at the Creativ Shows, by chain mail as demoed by Marilyn Gardiner at her booth. My interest in adding beads to my needlework drew me to the TBS Fair and the rest is history. The next thing I knew I had signed up for a Byzantine bracelet class wth Marilyn at Beadfx and I had moved on to sterling silver rings.
In the picture above, you’ll see a small pouch that I purchased at the flea market at Place d’Aligre in Paris.
Here’s a close up of it inside. It’s in perfect shape and sports a beautiful natural patina. There are two sections inside separated by a chain mail wall. I talked the vendor down to €40. At another flea market I saw a pouch like this for €60 and an envelope sized bag, in ragged shape, that the vendor would not sell to me for less than €150. Add a little more than half that price again to find the amount in Canadian dollars. I’m thrilled to own this little beauty and plan to create a chain mail chain from which to hang it.
The same weave, in 12 gauge sterling silver rings, appears in one of the first bracelets I made. These big, heavy rings were so difficult to open and close and I’ll likely never make another — considering it cost over $80 to make in 2004 when silver was about $9 an ounce! I wear it all the time. I’ve never cleaned it in 12 years and so it has patinated naturally.
We are so lucky to have access to quality jump rings in Canada through Marilyn Gardiner Design and even luckier that she teaches here and shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for beautiful chain mail jewellery that will become instant heirlooms and stand the test of time.
I urge you to try your hand at chain mail if you haven’t yet — you’ll enjoy the freedom of creating custom chain for beautiful lamp work and glass beads such as the two in the photo below — by Natalie Baird on the left and Muriel Duval on the right.
Besides online resources, you’ll find a lot of great books on chain mail. Marilyn Gardiner carries many of them, and Chains By Becky is a great starting point. It’s pricey but worth it. And now, Marilyn’s own book Modern Chain Mail Jewelry: Chic Projects to Complete Your Look is available. So many projects that combine unique beads and perfect chain mail. You can order it from Beadfx!
So I’m off to make some chains for the projects I started while at the workshop in France. More on that next week!