Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Chains: Introduction

NOTE TO READER:  This is a work in progress.  Many of the projects and other pages are in the process of being written and photographs taken.  This blog is intended as a hobby instructional guide and should not be taken as an academic lesson or dissertation on the subject.  This blog is intended to be converted into an e-book once the projects are complete.  We expect this project to change, and grow over the course of the year as we continue to edit or add text and replace photos.

Alixandra is the owner and designer of The Alchemists Vessel.  She also owns and operates the Little Shop of Artists in Boise Idaho, a retail venue for local artists.  A self-taught jewelry designer, she continues to improve and enhance her skills through continued education courses, and is Certified as a Jewelry Designer and Repair Technician.  She teaches jewelry-making classes at her local Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store, as well as Bella's Grove and the occasional Group or Club class.  She attends local Artisan Markets as a vendor, has on line shops on Etsy and  She is also a member of M.A.I.L. (Maille Artisans International League)

This blog will take into account that the reader is either interested in learning to make maille or has some knowledge of jewelry-making and will not need to have a complete introduction or an orientation to jewelry making. 

Spelled properly as mail, it is also spelled maille or maile in some instances.  You will see the word spelled the two most popular ways here.  This is not an error, this is to be sure that those browsing will be able to find us using either spelling.

The word maille comes from the French meaning "mesh or stitch".  Chainmaille is an ancient art form, dating back to the 5th Century Celts, and most likely made from iron rings.  Creating maille is called, weaving, knitting, or linking.  Chainmaille is created by linking individual metal rings together, occasionally these rings may be welded or riveted.  Commonly referred to as Jump Rings or O Rings, each ring is cut from a coil of metal, creating uniform rings with which to work.  Maille may be made out of a variety of metal including, copper, jeweler's brass also known as Merlin's Gold, stainless steel, iron, aluminum, and precious metals.  Many modern day weavers choose Niobium, glass and Neoprene rings to incorporate into their work.  Copper is the oldest metal mined by man and was used for any number of items from weapons to tools and jewelry.  A set of maille jewelry is usually called a parure and is comprised of a necklace, bracelet, earrings and sometimes a ring is included as well.

Now would be a good time to mention that although Maille was and in some cases is still used to create armor, the designs shown and described here are meant for jewelry, adornment and decoration, and will not protect you from anything!  Yes, it is made out of metal, yes it is strong, sturdy, durable and sustainable, a good piece of maille will last a life time and longer with proper care and feeding.  However chunky or delicate, it will not protect you from knives, needles, swords, maces, axes, bullets, or projectiles of any kind.

This Blog showcases Alixandra's work as a Chainmaille artistan, in preparation for the on-line book she has been invited to create.  We expect this project to be completed within the course of the year. 

There are many names for some weaves, and others are simply called what they are called for whatever reason that may be, in some cases the name of the weave has little to do with its origins.  Weaves like the Box Chain are also called Inca Puno and Queen's Chain.  Double Chain also known as Dragon Chain is not to be confused with Dragonscale, a complicated and beautiful maille pattern.  This blog attempts to use the most common name for a weave whenever possible, if more than one name exists you will find it noted next to the pattern.

All pictures in the photo gallery are of the hand-crafted jewelry designed and / or woven by Alixandra.  Although all items are produced, designed and sold by The Alchemists Vessel, the weaves are old and a staple of weavers everywhere.  Alixandra uses beads, charms, semi-precious gemstones and a variety of other materials in her maille creations to make them her own, and give the traditional a contemporary and unique update.  Currently she is working on an original variation of a weave that she hopes to feature in the up coming e-book.  The photos, instructions and text materials are the sole property of Alixandra owner and designer of The Alchemists Vessel and may not be used, copied, distributed or otherwise implemented without the express written consent of The Alchemists Vessel.  The jewelry designs in this book are for the express use of the reader, they may not be reproduced in quantity or variation of pattern, color or material, for sale, profit or fundraising by individuals or corporations.

Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.  Questions are always welcome.

Contact the Designer directly: 

*By reading this blog or attempting any of the projects within, you do so at your own risk.  The instructions and written warnings in this book are meant for your safety.  The Alchemists Vessel takes no responsibility for any type of injury, poked eyes, scraped hands, or aching fingers incurred while reading or attempting a project.