Meet a Chain Maille Genius

Oct 1, 2012

While I'm relatively new to the art of chain maille jewelry, I've been making my own lampwork glass beads for the last nine years. So when I was at Bead Fest Philadelphia last month with Jewelry Making Daily's Tammy Jones, I was a little confused when she told me about an artist she saw on the show floor who made glass chain maille.

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Kim's amazing chain maille balls look lovely when used in a larger piece of jewelry, or just as a single pendant.
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Each glass chain maille ball is constructed from dozens of tiny, individual glass rings.
At first, I thought she was talking about combining traditional metal jump rings with glass in a chain maille pattern. But, no, a quick look at the pictures Tammy had snapped with her camera showed me that these rings were made from solid glass, and that the artist, Kim Edwards, fused them together in the flame.

Even though I was supposed to be in classes all the next day, my morning class ended early enough that I had some time to spend walking the show floor, and sure enough, I found Kim Edwards at her booth, Lone Tree Studio.

Kim has been making lampwork glass beads since 2003. Her glass chain maille jewelry is created with borosilicate glass, which melts at a higher temperature than the softer Italian glass, and it cools more evenly, allowing Kim enough time to link and close her glass jump rings in the flame.

Each glass ring is made individually. Some are made open, with a gap, and some are made as a closed ring. After the rings have been annealed in the kiln, Kim begins the process of linking them together in the flame before the entire piece goes back into the kiln. What fascinated me the most was that Kim creates each glass chain maille ring without a mandrel. Each ring is just eyeballed for size, but her rings are amazingly consistent in both diameter and thickness!

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Indelible, created for the International Society of Glass Beadmaker's 2012 Japan exhibit.
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Closeup of the intricate round maille work done with thousands of individual glass rings.
Kim's glass chain maille necklace, Indelible, was made for the 2012 International Society of Glass Beadmaker's exhibit in Japan, and was inspired by traditional African beadwork. Three strands of hollow chain maille, also known as round maille, were connected to a three-strand necklace clasp.

Almost as amazing are Kim's chain maille beads. Each one is composed of dozens of tiny rings, forged and fused in the torch flame before being annealed.These lovely little glass beads are lightweight and can be incorporated into larger jewelry projects, or just hung from a chain as a pendant.

And while I don't think I'll ever make my own glass chain maille, seeing Kim's work has made me happy that I have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of making chain maille jewelry using the traditional metal jump rings. Kim's innovative and stunning glass chain maille has got me thinking about more ways to add some color to my own chain maille projects and has inspired me to keep practicing my chain maille weaves!

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Now, if you're inspired to work on your own chain maille skills after looking at all of this gorgeous chain maille made from glass, remember: using the metal jump rings is much easier. And anyone can do chain maille, especially if you have a copy of Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop by Karen Karon. Even if you're a complete beginner, you'll find all the basic information you need to get started making your own chain maille jewelry. Things like what to look for when buying metal jump rings, how to make your own jump rings, and fully illustrated instructions for dozens of chain maille weaves. Get your copy of Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop and get inspired by the ancient art of maille!

If you just can't wait to get started, Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop is also available as an instant download in the Beading Daily Shop. You can download the entire book in digital format onto your favorite desktop or laptop computer, print out the projects you want to make one at a time, and get started making chain maille jewelry in just a few minutes!

This is an especially good time to get Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop and to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness month at the same time. I'm pleased to let you know that over the next five days, from now through 11:59 PM MST on 10/5/2012, 30% of all Beading Daily Shop proceeds will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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