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How I Make Chainmaille
Article © MAIL User: sakredchao

Unwinding Stranded Wire
Image: unwind1.jpg
This is an optional process. I happened to be making something out of wire that I got from my wonderful cousin Meg, and it needed to be taken apart to be used. I spin both strands simultaneously and independently. This is a lot more fluid (and faster) than untwisting it without spinning the wires. Everything must be able to move around unhindered for this to work.

Winding Springs
Image: wind3.jpgImage: wind2.jpg
I handwind all of my springs on bent rods. I anchor the end of the rod on my leg, and I spin the rod with both hands, increasing my winding speed. I push the wire into the ring behind it with my
thumb during the winding. I can wind a perfect spring with my eyes closed like this.

Cutting Rings
Image: cut1.jpg
I use 'prosnip 103' compound leverage avation snips to cut most of my rings. (Klein d2000-28, a hack saw, or a jewelers saw for the rest). You can see how I hold the spring. I hold the ring that I am cutting to keep it from moving around so that the snips can make a clean cut. The rings fall into the hand holding the spring. I empty my hand every 15 rings or so. The snips, because they use a scissor action, push one end of the ring out a little.

I form every ring into as perfect circle as I can before putting it into the work.

Weaving Maille
Image: weave1.jpg
I hold one of my pliers inverted and one the standard way. This makes it easier for me to control the ring, and get a perfect closure. You can also see how I use closed rings. I am starting a sheet of doubled Japanese 6 in 1 here. Here I have put in 8 open rings and 42 closed rings.

The Sweatshop
Image: sweatshp.jpg
This is the sweatshop that i run in my basement. If you look really hard you may see the electric hamster prod and the iron maiden. I only use these when the kids become lazy about their closures.
hehehe.. This is actually a teaching session in New Jersey. A fine time if I do say so myself. When I left they were still weaving, and the adults had spent over $100 getting them set up to produce.

I use 20 gauges of wire, 16 ring sizes, and 11 wire types.

That's over 3500 ring combinations, of which maybe only 1500-2000 are practically usable.

On average a ring will take me about 1 minute to wind, form and weave into the work.

For smaller rings this time may be as long as 2 minutes per ring.

That is 30 to 60 rings per hour, many projects require thousands of rings. fnord

I would like to thank my friend Erin for taking these pictures for me. It was a unique opportunity to have myself photographed while working.

I hope these pictures are helpful to people.
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