Free Project: Chain Maille Necklace

Beading Dangerously

The Beadwork challenge kit for the April/May issue didn't look dangerous. Provided by Bead It!, the kit contained garnets, seed beads, metal rounds, pearls, rondelles, fire-polished rounds, and a clasp. Not a subtle, dainty clasp either–this silver and garnet box clasp was a "Me! Me! Look at me!" type of closure. Doesn't sound dangerous, does it? The problem was that I was in the middle of another beading project when it arrived. I set the box clasp from the kit next to some chain maille earrings I was creating as a gift for a friend. Good-bye earrings, hello necklace!

The Initial Sketch

Anybody else out there sketch out his or her jewelry designs? (Please share–I feel like I'm the only one!) As you can see, I don't strive to make a beautiful drawing, just something that is clear enough so that I have a record of my idea. My drawings can sometimes be messy, so I often label pieces, like I did with this one, just so I remember what all those little scribbles are. This sketch is close to actual size–I often have a single notebook page filled with variations on a theme.

The Final Design

I ultimately decided to use the bold clasp as the focal point. As you can see from the sketch, I originally thought I'd have fewer chain maille components (the original earrings I was making) and that I'd use chain for the back of the necklace. The front of the necklace turned out a little differently too–this original one looks a little bit more like a bolo tie! Part of the change came about because I decided to give myself an additional challenge (apparently one challenge wasn't enough!)–I wanted to use at least one bead of every type in the kit in my project, which meant adding some strung pieces in place of the chain I originally envisioned.

Free Project: Rambling Rose Necklace

A Reader's Challenge

Beading Daily reader Melodie Lente used the same kit of beads as I did to create a bracelet that brought back wonderful memories of her mother. (See a photo of her bracelet in the April/May 2008 issue of Beadwork.) This was the first time in Beadwork history that a reader participated in the challenge! Melodie's name was chosen randomly from the more than 400 entries.

Melodie learned to bead while on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in southern Colorado when she was 10 years old. Bead embroidery was her first (and still favorite) technique, though she has taught herself many others. Melodie finds beading "a time to let the cares of the day slilp away and return to that calm, centered place."

At left is a bead embroidered mask by Melodie Lente.

It's Your Turn

Now it's your turn! Beadwork magazine will select one lucky reader to work on the next challenge project. If your name is chosen at random, you will be mailed one of the upcoming kits and have about three weeks to complete your project. Due to heavy international shipping costs, this challenge is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. Sign up by May 12th!

Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have questions or comments for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please post them here on the website. Thanks!

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog, Chain Maille
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

4 thoughts on “Free Project: Chain Maille Necklace

  1. I sketch my pieces all the time, specially if the piece is a special request. sometimes is just a bunch of different color blobs to mark each different bead. it never comes exactly what i sketch but to me is better than a bead board. you are not the only one.

    Comment by: LOIDA H | April 11, 2008

    I also sketch my ideas – they don’t always make it to being actually beaded, but I know that someday I’ll have the perfect sketch (somewhere in my horde of paper).

    Comment by: Heather R | April 11, 2008

    I’ll sketch if I know it will be a bit before I can get to it and don’t want to lose the idea. Sometimes to try to work out how to go about it or how I want to attach a piece. I don’t generally draw to scale, but I know others who do 🙂

    Comment by: Dana H | April 11, 2008

    Your sketches look just like mine! I love blank books. I’ve got one and a half full of projects. Unfortunately I have way more ideas and beads than time. So, in the hopes that the time will come, I keep drawing.

    Comment by: Mary H | April 11, 2008

    I love to sketch… It’s like beading without beads… Fantastic when inspiration gets me on a railway trip or in any other place. But I do not always sketch.. no.. I like to let the needle go its own way too.

    Comment by: | April 11, 2008

    I usually sketch my 2-D patterns if I haven’t made them in the past (a model is better than a sketch!). It’s harder to sketch 3-D patterns. It’s also good to sketch colour variations to see if they will go together. Now a comment about Michelle’s necklace… it’s cute, but challenging is not the first word that comes to mind to describe it.

    Comment by: Allegra C | April 11, 2008

    I also sketch some of my projects especially when I am traveling or cannot be in my bead room. My ideas are more than my fingers can find the time to create. but they keep coming…Happy beading 🙂 Melinda J ~ MP Designs Jewelry

    Comment by: Melinda J | April 12, 2008

    I do this all the time and have for years. It really helps me get ideas out and keeps me organized:

    Comment by: Tammy P | April 12, 2008

    i’ll never sketch any designs on papers, they are all in my head. Shirley-L

    Comment by: | April 13, 2008

    Sketching a pattern or design is always helpful. I try to make up about four designs using some part of the pattern. It helps to be creative and comeup with new combinations that I had not thought of before.

    Comment by: jan M | April 14, 2008

    I sketch my designs AFTER I make them. That way, I can figure the cost and keep a record of what I have done to recreate later, after I have sold the item. Wih well over 150 original designs to date, I can’t even keep the most popular ones in my head any more and my photography is worse than awful!

    Comment by: Lisa F | April 15, 2008

    I began sketching within the past 5 years, mainly before I took digital photos of my work so I’d have a record of what I’d done. Almost anything can be a “sketch pad” including the note book I was using in a photographic lighting class. The young woman sitting ahead of me had an amazing pair of shoulder duster earring on and I couldn’t help skteching out the details with a few notes on components and color. I’ll probably do a variation to add to my product line.

    Comment by: Mary S | April 16, 2008

    Hi, thanks for great patterns,and ideas. I keep my pattern that i print off computer in a 3 ring binder inside plactic sheet covers, my 4 year old grandaughter likes to do beading and other crafts, and she can look at my patterns and they stay neat and tidy.

    Comment by: angela K | April 17, 2008

    I was trained to be an architect, but end up being an interior decorator and jewellery designer. Thus, sketching become like daily habit for me, especially when I’m travelling and being surrounded by inspring things. I have lots of 2 blank books for sketching , the small size moleskin sketchbook I use only when I’m travelling.Even I dont make all sketches into real jewellery, but they supply me all year round inspirations.

    Comment by: zulfa s | April 18, 2008

  2. I sketch in my ‘beading notepad’ but also write foot notes as my drawing is terrible. It actually helps me a lot as I don’t start on some of the designs until much later. I’ve got several that I have not started on as I’m learning new techniques at the moment.