The Art of Creating Chainmail

By on August 15, 2014
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by Judy Ellis,

Wire Tip for August 15, 2014

The Art of Creating Chainmail

Today we are taking a look at a very old style of metal working called Chainmail. It’s history dates back to around the 2nd Century BC and has recently been making comback in the jewelry world.

This necklace was created by instructor Marilyn Gardiner. It’s called Dragonscale.

What is Chainmail?

Chainmail (aka: chainmaille, chain mail, chain maille, maille or mail) is made up of a pattern (called a weave) of interlocking rings. Because the design tends to spread the force of an edged weapon (a sword or axe, for example) over a wider area, chainmail was historically used as armor. Today it may be used for costuming, reenactment, or in jewelry, belts, or other decorative pieces.

How to get started making chainmail: (just the basics)

  1. Choose a weave and a pattern that you like: I’ve put a few below for you to see how different they can be.You can see more examples of weaves and patterns HERE
  2. Choose a design you like: If you are just beginning, start with something fairly small and simple until you get the hang of it.
  3. Choose your material. Decide whether you will make your own rings from wire or purchase pre-cut and sized jump rings. You can make your own jump rings from wire, but if you are just a beginner, it might be easier to start with pre-cut rings until you get the hang of it.
  4. Choose your tools: You’ll need pliers for the rings, as well as a metal rod to wind the wire for the rings around. Match your pliers to your material. The pliers you would use on heavy gauge stainless steel will not be the same pliers you use on fine gauge silver.
  5. Wind and Cut your wire or open your jump rings: If using your own wire to make jump rings – make sure you wind it firmly around a metal rod and not a wood dowel as the force can easily break the rod.
  6. Using Pre-made Jump Rings. Choose a size and gauge suited to your purpose and consider the material and finish. Do you want color? Light weight? Corrosion resistance? Jewelry or armor? Do you want to buy pre-cut rings or make your own? If you make your own rings, you will also need the following to make your rings.
  7. Begin creating a pattern by connecting jump rings in your desired pattern. You can find several instructional books on making Chainmail HERE.

The basics from a beginner:

The other day, Debbie, one of our customer service specialists here at stopped by to show me some of the beautiful chainmail jewelry she’s been making for and the up coming wedding of her son. I was so impressed by it that I asked her to give us a few beginner tips and share pictures of her finished jewelry with us. I thought you would enjoy hearing what she experienced and seeing the finished product!

From Debbie…

“As a new “chain mailler” I have become obsessed! It is so exciting to see a container of small little circles turn into a beautiful intricate piece of jewelry. I think one of the most important things I have found to successfully complete my projects is the pliers I use.”

“I have found that 2 narrow flat nose pliers do work well, but I am really liking the combination of the narrow (Baby Wubber flat nose) and a bent nose pliers. The bent nose seems to help me with control as I am working the rings into place.”

“My recent projects were for my sons wedding and my soon to be daughter-in-law’s bridal party. Each of the girls will have matching bracelets created from the pattern I purchased from Marilyn Gardner.”

“My necklace and earring set pictured is also for the wedding. A special bell that symbolizes the 4 seasons of life was the inspiration. I found the pattern for the chain maille necklace in one of the Jewelry Design books that we carry here at Wire-Sculpture. Each one of them has great projects and directions on technique!”



Weave up close:

“I also wanted to share my copper practice pieces as well. I am enjoying wearing them, as I love the look and feel of copper, especially in a chain maille piece.”

Weave up close:


Many Thanks!

I’d like to thank Debbie and congratulate her on her latest projects as well as her sons up coming wedding and If you happen to talk to Debbie in our Customer Service department, congratulate her on her beautiful pieces!

If you’d like to get started making your very own chainmail – CLICK HERE for one of Marilyn Gardiners beginning patterns.

Happy Wrapping!

A Brief History of Chainmail

More about Chainmail

The Art of Chainmail

Chainmail Artistans League

More from Marilyn Gardiner

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One Comment

  1. avatar

    Carol Praissman

    August 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Your chain mail is just lovely! I am really impressed by how even it is. The long copper necklace is drop dead gorgeous!
    Thank you for sharing your work.