My journey into making a silver chainmail bracelet...from scratch  

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I've been asked a few times why chainmail jewelry is so expensive. For a silver bracelet in various weaves a chainmailer can charge up to $100 or more (or 80-100 Euros if in Europe).
Also I have friends in Cyprus who have absolutely no idea how this type of jewelry comes to be about. No wonder. Two years ago for me 'chainmail' only ment the armor wore by European soldiers in the Middle Ages.

My bracelet today will be in the Byzantine weave, a beautiful weave designed for jewelry. This is the final design.

This piece took me pretty much the whole day - except the time I prepared and had lunch, and had a cake and coffee with hubby.



First step - coil the wire. Set up the coiling equipment and start coiling. I actually enjoy this process as it doesn't take long and it's quite relaxing...







Finished coiling. Hm...it could have been neater...oh well, next time...
The coils are rather small as the mandrel is not large enough. It takes approximately 1.5 m of wire (1mm wire on 3.5mm mandrel).






Next step, cutting the coil into single rings... I'm using a jewelry saw which is relatively easy but also slow to work with. But it cuts the rings neatly flush.
And don't forget the finger protection as it's very easy to go with the saw through the fingers...ouch.
Half of my rings have been cut. A small break and then continue...




Finally, all my rings in this batch are cut. Took a while...
Paper is full of rings, silver powder and candle powder. Why candle? The saw needs a lubricant, and beeswax is just right for it.
Have a ton of candles at home, so I took one to use with my saw.
Now rings need to be cleaned nicely and then the jewelry weaving can begin... I don't have (yet) a tumbler, so I'm cleaning the silver with water and soap. Tumbler and stainless steel shot is already ordered, it should come within the next 2-3 weeks...


Approximately 100 rings in that cup yielded by the mandrel size.
Nice, clean and shiny. No idea yet how many I will need for my Byzantine bracelet, so I'll finish these up before making more rings.









And here are the first two segments of my Byzantine bracelet using the rings just cut and cleaned.








Hm...finished up all the rings, and I hardly have half of the bracelet done...
Which means off to coil and cut some more...but in the meantime for a break I wrapped this beautiful lampwork bead (made by an American artisan), as I intend to use it with the bracelet.



Here is my second coil. This one is beautifully uniform and all!




.....after cutting the second coil in rings (another batch of - give or take - 100 rings) and weaving in with the rest of the bracelet, tada...I present you The Bracelet...









Hm, on second thought...I don't like where the bead is...so after undoing that part, here is the final (hopefully) version of it with a nicer clasp and a small extension chain as well...

Now just to take a nicer picture of it and it should be done...






And based on Laura's input, I modified it yet again to make the beadie a clasp... (picture is at the top of the posting). Oh and yes, the silver clasp is also handmade by me, done in one of my small breaks from cutting and weaving silver. How to do that is a matter for a future post.


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