Graymalkin's Wireworks

Unique, Handmade Jewellery

        What Goes on in My Workshop

 

 

Chainmaille. 

And a lot of it.  But what is it?  Chainmaille, or simply maille (French for 'mesh') is a fabric or chain made of metal rings interlocked in a repeating pattern. It is most commonly recognized as the armour worn by soldiers and knights during the Middle Ages. Chainmaille is believed to have been invented by Gallic tribes living in what is now Switzerland and was first used extensively by the Romans.  Later, it was used as armour throughout Eurasia where two distinct styles developed in Europe proper as well as in Japan.  While some of the weaves I use originated in ancient times most of the patterns that I sell  were invented much later, particularly in the last few decades.  Maille Artisans has an excellent weave library and numerous pictures to look through.

 

Viking Knit Wire Weaving.

Viking Knit wire weaving is a style of chain that was commonly made by viking artisans during the pre-Christian Viking period. Examples of this style are found in the graves and hoards of viking nobles. Viking knit is made by threading wire around a dowel or rod over and over again through previous loops and then drawing down the chain to make it smoother and more flexible.  I can make viking knit jewelery out of all of the metals listed below. 

 

Silversmithing.

In addition to chainmaille and wire weaving I also manipulate metal using fire, soldering alloys and various specialty tools.  The ring section in my gallery contains several examples of jewelery making techniques that go beyond linking rings and weaving wire.  These are the skills that I am developing in earnest at this point in my career. As I get more experienced and adventurous newer and more intricate items will appear on this site.

 

Metals that I work with:

 

Aluminum and Anodized Aluminum

Aluminum is light and not as strong as steel or bronze but stronger than copper. I use aluminum that has been diamond drawn for my jewelery and it is a bright grey silver colour and does not tarnish. I can also acquire aluminum that has been anodized. Anodized aluminum has been coloured by chemical treatment that produces a thick layer of coloured metal on the surface. Aluminum can be given a wide variety of colours and is a good choice if you would like 'standard' colours (red, blue yellow etc.). The colouring is resistant to abrasion but will wear over time.

Blackened mild steel

It has the same properties as mild steel except that the outer layer has been chemically treated and oxidized to form a layer of black magnetite. It looks pretty good but has the same corrosion issues and the magnetite will eventually wear off.

Brass

Strong, bright yellow and heavy. This is a good metal to combine with bronze or stainless steel. It is less resistant to corrosion than copper or bronze but otherwise it behaves the same and is easily cleaned.

Bronze

Metal of the classical age! This metal is an alloy of copper and tin and is much stronger than copper.  It is light orange with a gold undertone. The colour pairs well with stainless steel, brass, copper and nickel silver. This metal has the same corrosion properties as copper.

Copper

Almost all of the copper I use is recycled.  Our society produces quite a lot of waste copper in the form of electrical wire and pipes.  If one knows where to look copper is available in large amounts for free.  Copper is bright orange but will quickly tarnish and turn the skin green. My Grandfather uses a copper bracelet to ease his arthritis and he swears by it. I can get copper wire in a variety of thicknesses but it is very soft and so I do not recommend ordering chainmaille that uses fine gauge copper.  If you don't like the tarnish a quick bath in lemon juice usually restores the un-tarnished colour.   

Fine silver and sterling silver

I use both commercially pure silver (99.9% pure) and sterling silver (92.5% pure).  Fine silver is idea where durability is less of an issue.  It is softer than sterling but takes much longer to tarnish.  Sterling silver is harder and offers more possibilities for design but tarnishes quickly.  Sterling silver and fine silver both cost roughly $25 (CAD) for an ounce of wire,  which makes anything made with silver fairly expensive.   The inexpensive silver jewelry one often sees in boutiques is so cheap because it is made in developing countries like Mexico where craftspeople are paid little for their labour.

Mild steel

This metal is ideal if you want a piece of armor that looks genuinely medieval.  i would only recommend it for armour and be aware that it will rust if not properly taken care of.

Nickel silver

Also called German silver. It is a nickel alloy that is silver in colour with a distinct gold undertone. It tarnishes slowly and becomes darker in colour. It is quite strong but is also quite heavy. It looks good when paired with bronze, Stainless Steel and Brass.

Niobium

This is a dark gray metal that is hypoallergenic and moderately strong (comparable to silver). It is less than half the price of fine silver and, like titanium, can be anodized to produce a variety of vibrant colours. It is a good alternative to Titanium.

Stainless steel

Strong and corrosion resistant with a shiny metallic grey. This metal is ideal for everything that I currently make. I use it extensively in my jewelery and it is the best metal for belts since it can usually take the tension without seriously deforming. Standard stainless steel is not hypoallergenic and so if you have metal allergies you'll need to consider other materials for jewelery.

Surgical stainless steel

This has the same properties as normal stainless steel except that it is even more resistant to corrosion. I also can acquire nickel-free surgical stainless steel. Right now I can only get this metal in 20 ga (1 mm thick) and so I am using it exclusively for jewelery.

Titanium

This metal is becoming increasingly popular for jewelery. It has three big advantages over other metals. It is very light (almost half the density of steel) and very comfortable to wear, it is hypoallergenic and it is very strong. It's price is moderate for jewelery. It is about half the price of silver but several times the price of base metals. Titanium can also be anodized. The colours are usually very bright pastel and neon colours. If you like vibrant intermediate colours (magenta, teal etc.) this is a good choice.

 

 



 

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