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Graduation / Graduated Maille
Article © MAIL User: Chainmailbasket_com

What Is Graduated Maille?

Graduation is a process by which graduated maille is made. Graduated maille is that which is produced using multiple ring sizes in a manner that causes the weave(s) used to gradually increase or decrease in size and/or density. Most weaves can be graduated. Ring sizes in this article are listed by wire diameter, then mandrel diameter (metric conversions provided), followed by inner diameter, then AR. A conversion chart for wire diameters is provided at the end of the article.

Ring Sizes/Graduation Methods

Graduated maille requires rings of different sizes. There are two distinct features of a ring's size: its inner diameter, and its wire diameter. These, along with the resulting aspect ratio (AR) are important considerations in graduation.

There are a few different methods of graduating maille. One is use rings of increasing inner diameter, while maintaining the same wire size. This causes an overall weave density change. The weave thins out as the rings increase in size, but decrease in AR. A second method is to use rings of increasing inner and wire diameter. This helps to maintain the AR, keeping it closer to a specific value. The overall density of the weave will remain more consistent in these cases, it will just become thicker.

Two simple examples of stainless steel-woven, graduated European 4 in 1 (E4-1) are presented. The first maintains wire diameter and only increases in inner diameter between rows, the second increases both the inner and wire diameter. Notice the difference in density.

Image: grad_e4-1a.jpgRings used:

  • .032" 3/32" (.102" ID, AR of 3.2)
  • .032" 1/8" (.140" ID, AR of 4.4)
  • .032" 5/32" (.175" ID, AR of 5.5)
  • .032" 3/16" (.208" ID, AR of 6.5)
  • .032" 7/32" (.244" ID, AR of 7.6)
Image: grad_e4-1b.jpgRings used:

  • .025" (.63mm) 3/32" (2.38mm) (.108" ID, AR of 4.3)
  • .032" (.81mm) 1/8" (3.175mm) (.140" ID, AR of 4.4)
  • .040" (1.0mm) 5/32" (3.97mm) (.176" ID, AR of 4.4)
  • .048" (1.2mm) 3/16" (4.76mm) (.207" ID, AR of 4.3)
  • .062" (1.6mm) 7/32" (5.56mm) (.241" ID, AR of 3.9)


Increasing the number of rows before increasing your ring diameter will make for more gradual graduation. By no means should you limit yourself to only one of these two ideas. Combining them gives you more control over the amount of graduation.

Certain weaves that have ring groupings of variable numbers of rings can be graduated by modifying this parameter. Byzantine can be made with different numbers of connector rings between its sections. Captive, and quasi-Captive weaves can have increasing numbers of rings in each cage. This increases the required AR, which usually makes it more ideal to maintain the wire diameter in these cases.

A few examples are presented. Each of Captive Inverted Round (CIR) and Bore Worm were made with captives ranging from 1 through 5, 2 cells between graduations. Notice the bigger AR spread in CIR. In the case of Byzantine, I used close to the weave entry description's recommended ARs per number of connectors.

Image: grad_byz.jpg Byzantine

  • .047" 9/64" (mm) (.156" ID, AR of 3.3)
  • .047" 19/128" (3.77mm) (.166" ID, AR of 3.5)
  • .047" 3/16" (4.76mm) (.206" ID, AR of 4.4)
  • .047" 27/128" (5.36mm) (.234" ID, AR of 5.0)
Image: grad_cir.jpg Captive Inverted Round

  • .062" 9/32" (7.14mm) (.306" ID, AR of 4.9)
  • .062" 21/64" (8.33mm) (.363" ID, AR of 5.9)
  • .062" 3/8" (9.525mm) (.411" ID, AR of 6.6)
  • .063" 7/16" (11.1mm) (.494" ID, AR of 7.8)
  • .063" 31/64" (12.3mm) (.547" ID, AR of 8.7)
Image: grad_bw.jpg Bore Worm

  • .062" 19/64" (7.54mm) (.325" ID, AR of 5.2)
  • .062" 5/16" (7.94mm) (.339" ID, AR of 5.5)
  • .062" 11/32" (8.73mm) (.379" ID, AR of 6.1)
  • .062" 25/64" (9.92mm) (.432" ID, AR of 7.0)
  • .063" 7/16" (11.1mm) (.494" ID, AR of 7.8)



Choosing Ring Sizes/Limitations

Since graduated maille requires multiple ring sizes, you are limited by what ring stock you have on hand. If you buy rings, you will be limited to the sizes available through ring suppliers. It's better to make your own rings as it gives you more control over the possible sizes you can make.

A good understanding of Aspect Ratio (AR) is essential. Choosing ring sizes for specific weaves requires knowledge of how AR affects weave behaviour. It's a matter of choosing those close to the AR most ideal for the specific application.

This article uses a lot of very specific ring sizes. Don't be intimidated by this. Use what you have. The first step is establishing a complete list of what ring sizes you have (or are capable of producing) in each wire diameter. From there you can determine which ring sizes will work with which weaves. If you need help choosing ring sizes for a specific weave, don't be afraid to ask in the Weaves Discussion Forum.


More Examples

Directional sheet weaves, such as the European x in y progressions contain rows and columns of different grain. This opens them up to two simple graduation types. The examples first presented in this article demonstrated a row graduation, but what happens if you graduate by column? This is a closeup of the inside of Basket 39, which uses several different ring sizes to graduate the E4-1. I also used this type of E4-1 graduation in Basket 29.

Image: grad_39.jpg



Unit graduation is possible by using scaled up (or scaled down) sets of ring sizes. The following Triangle pendant was made by lorraine, who was nice enough to allow me its inclusion in this article.

Image: grad_triangles_by_lorraine.jpeg
Lorraine used the following ring sizes (all AWG):

  • Small triangle 20g/4.25mm, 22g/3.5, 2.5, and 2.25mm.
  • Medium 18g/5.25mm, 20g/4.25, 3.0, and 2.75mm.
  • Large 16g/6.75mm, 18g/5.75, 3.75, and 3.5mm.


More examples of graduated maille can be found in the graduated section of the gallery.


Structural Considerations

Making tight pieces of graduated maille is possible by utilizing rings close to the weave's minimum AR. It's sometimes advisable to hover a little bit above the minimum possible AR between increases in wire diameter to accommodate the transition.

This Full Persian 6 in 1 sample was made with stainless steel rings with ARs ranging from 4.7 - 5.2. The minimum for this weave is 4.8, however, the rings in the first cell were able to be pushed below this since they connect to only four rings each instead of six.

Image: grad_tight_fp.jpg
Rings used:

  • .025" (.63mm) 13/128" (2.58mm) (.117" ID, AR of 4.7)
  • .028" (+.003) (.71mm) 1/8" (3.175mm) (.134" ID, AR of 4.8)
  • .032" (+.004) (.81mm) 9/64" (3.57mm) (.158" ID, AR of 4.9)
  • .035" (+.003) (.89mm) 19/128" (3.77mm) (.170" ID, AR of 4.9)
  • .040" (+.005) (1.0mm) 11/64" (4.37mm) (.196" ID, AR of 4.9)
  • .048" (+.008) (1.2mm) 7/32" (5.56mm) (.243" ID, AR of 5.1)
  • .062" (+.014) (1.6mm) 19/64" (7.54mm) (.325" ID, AR of 5.2)


The wire diameter increments become spread apart further as this chain gets larger. This has entirely to do with my wire size availability. This sample gets quite a bit larger in the last segment, and the last few cells called for a slightly higher AR.

This sculpture was produced of 24 graduated, four-cell Box Chains in stainless steel, brass, copper, and bright aluminum. Its ARs were kept between 3.8 and 4.0. The minimum for Box is 3.8

Image: grad_tight_box.jpg
Rings used:

  • .045" (1.1mm) 5/32" (3.97mm) (.179" ID, AR of 4.0)
  • .062" (1.6mm) 7/32" (5.56mm) (.243" ID, AR of 3.9)
  • .086" (2.2mm) 5/16" (7.94mm) (.330" ID, AR of 3.8)
  • .094" (2.4mm) 11/32" (8.73mm) (.374" ID, AR of 4.0)




Wire Sizes

Wire diameters referenced in this article are converted in the following chart.

inchmmgauge (+/-.002")
.094"2.4mm13SWG
.086"2.2mm
.0802.0mm14SWG
.062" / .063"1.6mm16SWG
.048"1.2mm18SWG
.045"1.1mm17AWG
.040"1.0mm19SWG / 18AWG
.035".89mm20SWG / 19AWG
.032".81mm21SWG / 20AWG
.028".71mm22SWG / 21AWG
.025".635mm23SWG / 22AWG

Original URL: http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=665