I have been captivated by ring weaving (also known as chainmail, chainmaille, etc) for a long time. It's a method of creating textiles from metal. They're strong enough to protect you in a sword fight, (which I know is a daily problem for most of us,) but more importantly, they're also soft, drapey and easy to wear.
I ordered chain and jumprings from one of my favorite jewelry suppliers a while ago. The jumprings didn't fit the chain, though the description of sizes would make you think they would. Either way, I ended up with a whole lot of dark brass jump rings that didn't fit any of the chain I was using. I had been thinking about this project for a long time because I love shirt collar styled necklaces but I really wanted to make something better than what I could buy at Forever 21. I am so glad I tried this, I love how it looks, but I'm even more attached to the way it feels when I wear it!
The materials and equipment list for this project is short:
- pliers - you'll want at least two pairs, one needlenose and one roundnose is a nice choice
- jumprings (about 1700-1800 for this project) - these are 5mm rings made from 1mm wire, the rings you use make a huge difference in the finished look
- a clasp - make sure it hooks into one of the rings you're using, or find a ring that it will hook into
Start off by measuring yourself to determine the length you want the finished necklace to be. Subtract the size of the clasp, then divide the number in half. You'll be making two pieces this size.
My rings came not quite closed. Because this is how almost every jumpring I've ever used it, my directions are written assuming your rings are the same. Close four rings, open one wide enough to put other rings into it. Always twist rings open and closed.
Place the four closed rings into the open ring. Close that ring neatly. Any scratchy edges will be scratchy when you wear the necklace.
Arrange the rings like this - the ring you just closed is in the center.
Close two more rings and open one.
Hook the open ring through TWO of the rings form the first cluster. You want it to look just like the picture. If it's not right, pull the ring back out and keep trying! When you have it, add the two other rings and close this ring.
It should look like this.
Repeat the same process - open one ring, and close two.
Hook the open ring through two rings in the last cluster, then add the other two rings before closing.
Your chain should be identical to this so far.
At this point I closed up a whole bunch of rings for efficiency. Keep making this chain until it is the length you determined in the first step (finished length minus clasp divided by 2)
This is your foundation chain. You'll now add rows to it until the necklace is as wide as you want it to be.
Open a ring. Hook it through two rings of the foundation chain. Close it.
Open a ring, hook it through two rings. This time, it should share a foundation chain ring with the last ring you added. So basically, re-use one foundation chain ring, and use one fresh ring.
Keep doing that - hooking through one shared and one not-shared ring in the foundation chain until you get to the end. This is not the fastest way to build up chainmaille, but it is a good way to ensure that you'll have neatly tapered ends.
This is the foundation chain with one row of rings added to it.
Start the next row like the last, adding one ring through two of the previous row.
Keep going as before - one shared ring, one unshared ring - until you get to the end.
Repeat this row adding pattern until the piece is the width you want your finished collar to be.
Make a second foundation chain. Line it up with the first piece, and be sure to start adding additional rows on the opposite side as you did with the first piece. Woven chain has a nap. Making your pieces symmetrical will make the finished necklace look a little bit nicer.
When both pieces are done, align two ends as shown.
Link the ends together. I added one ring at the top line, then three rings as a chain a little lower.
Before adding the clasp check the fit. You may need to add a couple rows to to the end of each piece depending on the drape and curve of your pieces.
When you like the fit, add the clasp to one side and a jumpring to the other.
Wear your necklace!