The downside of chainmaille

I love chainmaille. The flexibility and movement it allows. The nearly endless possibility for different patterns. From my first attempts at using it to accent my silver work to my time making chainmaille armor to my current work with sculptural chainmaille for jewelry I just love chainmaille. It keeps my hands busy and my mind focused. I can work for hours so focused that my Tourette Syndrome is almost non existent while I work.

Those hours are also the downside. Weaving tiny jumprings together one by one takes a lot of time, a single earring could be made out of hundreds of rings a bracelet or necklace could have thousands. The rings I use are too small to be commercially available so I start with spools of wire make my own jump rings and weave them together ring by ring. Some of my simplest designs will take only an hour to make a pair of earrings but I get bored making them. The things I like to make are more complex, take more thought to make the design work and a lot more time to make. A LOT more time.

Typically I get an idea and just let it sit in my mind awhile until I know exactly what I want to do. I may draw it out on paper to guide me while I work. Sometimes something that works on paper doesn’t work in chain and I’ll have to take it apart and rework it til it does just what I want. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and the project ends up on my “wall of shame” to be revisited in the future. Other times I end up with something I love but I have no idea how long it actually takes to make so I have to time myself making a second one to figure out how much I should sell it for.

My current project spent a lot of time on the “wall of shame” in fact I think the original has been there about three years now. In making the original it was coming together looking great but I had so much time invested in it I knew it would never work out. I didn’t even bother to finish it, just hung it on the “wall of shame” and walked away. I’ve revisited it several times and now have two pieces that I absolutely love, but while the time has come down since that first attempt it’s still a lot of time to make one necklace or bracelet and really my chosen material is nothing but colored copper. How much is someone going to want to pay for copper jewelry? I put both pieces aside and worked on other projects until recently with a friends encouragement (pestering) I decided to finally do a time trial. It can’t really take as long as I expected… I thought it would be somewhere over thirty hours. Currently my timer reads 35:36 and the end is nowhere near in sight.

There is just no way I’ll be able to sell this for enough to make it worth my time. Over the past three years I’ve put hundreds of hours into this one design and in the end I probably won’t be making anymore than the three I’ll have once I finish this time trial. It was a great idea but I just couldn’t make it work. Maybe I will list it on Etsy and just see what happens. If it doesn’t sell all I’ve lost is my time and I am proud of what I’ve made.


About kateevans68

I'm me. What more do you need to know
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3 Responses to The downside of chainmaille

  1. Mary says:

    just beautiful !

  2. Beautiful! My son learned to make chainmaille for a Renaissance Fair in Jr. High. A lengthy but rewarding task. Your work is outstanding. What is your wall of shame? Making jewelry is much more satisfying when one makes it for oneself. I found I never made enough to recoop time spent, but it was reward enough that another person found it beautiful enough to want to pay to own it or better yet, give it as a gift. The most rewarding was making rosaries making my own jump rings the same way you describe here. And easy to lose oneself in it, a meditation of sorts.

    • kateevans68 says:

      My wall of shame is a pin board where I hang all the pieces that were good in theory but just didn’t work out and some things that I just want to be able to come back to. Chainmaille is a sort of meditation, when I’m doing it my Tourette’s just disappears. Someone once told me I shouldn’t worry about making money at it because I’m saving money for therapy…

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