Chainmaille: From Armour to Art

The idea for this project came while I was working on a final project for my Image Communications (photography) class.  I decided to take commercial photographs of my chainmaille jewelry and as I was photographing my pieces, I began to think about chainmaille armour and how interesting it is that we’ve co-opted one art form into another.  So I decided to explore that idea with a video and viola! – the idea for my final project was born. My intent was to make a very short documentary that introduces people to the ways in which jewelry artists are using not only ancient chainmaille techniques, but newly invented weaves and patterns to make really cool jewelry. What I didn’t get into much in this video is all the other ways chainmaille is used today:

  • Iron chainmaille scrubbers for cast iron pans
  • Pierce-resistant chainmaille gloves are used by butchers and craftsmen
  • Chainmaille is used to make shark diving suits
  • Highway retaining walls are created using massive links in a 4-in-1 pattern

And, of course, there are artists and craftsmen (and women) who are still using the basic 4-in-1 chainmaille pattern to create lightweight armour for various reasons. I didn’t go into too much historical detail because I wanted this project to focus on the jewelry and not chainmaille history.  But if you’re interested in this history, there are plenty of websites devoted to it. Here are a few I found interesting:

All the jewelry pieces in this video were made by me over the past few years (one piece was made specifically for this video), and I took all of the photographs in this video, either on trips overseas (the images at the beginning) or during Spring term 2015 as part of this and other projects. The chainmaille sleeve and shirt on this video were not done by me. These items were on display in the Lane Community College Art Museum early in Spring term 2015.  I do not know who the artist is (I wish I did so I could credit them), but I really like their work. (If you are the artist or know who the artist or artists are, please notify me and I’ll update this post to give them their due credit).

The music and sound effects are courtesy of freesound.org. Clips used:

I hope you enjoy this little introduction into a craft I really love.

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