Q: How is chainmaille made?
A: While many chainmaille artists work with premade rings, I prefer to make my own. I begin with wire in various gauges, most commonly 14g, 16g, and 18g. This wire is then wrapped around steel mandrels of various sizes, forming a coil that looks like a tight spring. These coils are then cut with a saw into individual rings. The rings are then tumbled overnight with steel shot to harden them and give them a beautiful shine, as well as knocking off any burrs that form as part of the sawing process. The rings are then linked together one-by-one in various patterns to make the different weaves.
Q: Do you really make all of your rings yourself?
A: Well, not all of my rings. The main jewelry rings that I use are made from copper, silver, and gold-filled wire, and those I do make myself. But I also incorporate rings made from neoprene, anodized niobium, and anodized aluminum. These types of rings require special equipment to produce that I do not have available in my home studio, and I have no choice but to buy them from outside sources.
Q: Does it take a long time to make chainmaille?
A: It can take a very long time to make maille, depending on the weave you are making and the size of the rings that you are using. Most people do not realize that the majority of the cost of chainmaille jewelry does not come from the materials themselves, but from the time it takes to assemble it. That is why the price difference between copper and silver pieces is often not as large as you think it ought to be. It takes the same amount of time to assemble the piece regardless of the material used to create it.
Q: Can you teach me to make chainmaille?
A: Absolutely! I love teaching my craft to others. Check out my classes page to see where I am teaching next, or to find out how to get a class near you.
Q: What is this "Argentium Sterling" you are selling? Why is it more expensive than regular Sterling Silver?
A: Argentium Sterling is an alloy of silver that replaces some of the copper of tradtional Sterling with germanium. This change makes Argentium much more tarnish resistant than tradtional Sterling, and also makes it more malleable yet more durable. This makes it a far superior material for many jewelrymaking applications, especially chainmaille. Argentium does cost a little more than regular sterling (approximately 2-3 more dollars per ounce in material cost) but it is such a small extra cost to pay for a much superior product.
Have a question that I haven't answered here? Feel free to email me through the contact link!