Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chain Maille Tips & Tricks: The Death Grip

You're sitting, hunched over, pliers grasped, struggling to close your jump rings when you realize that your back hurts, you're getting bleary eyed, your wrists and hands are killing you and your lovely rings are completely marred up. What the Hell is going on?

Beware The Death Grip!!

When you're first getting started making chain maille, there is the tendency to hold onto your pliers for dear life for fear your rings will go flying across the room. It happens, trust me: been there, done that.

The first thing you have to do is relax.

Find a pair of pliers that are comfortable in your hands and that you feel comfortable with. I highly recommend using a pair with a box joint or spring - this will help you easily and effortlessly work with your tools.

Know that every metal you work with will be different and it might take you some time to get used to each of them. As a beginner, work in bright aluminum or copper. They aren't terribly expensive metals, so if you mark them up as you're getting used to mailling and your pliers, it's not much of a waste. They are also very malleable metals, so you won't have to work as hard to get them closed. Keep in mind that because they are malleable (soft) that means they will mar easily in comparison to, say, stainless steel. This, however, will help teach you just how strong (or light) a grip you really need.

Sit in a comfortable position where you can easily see your work with good lighting and relax your hands. You want your grip only to be firm enough to keep the ring in your pliers. Let your tools do the work - you will exert less energy, not get tired as fast, and be able to work longer.

It will take some practice to get used to how much pressure you really need, so be patient and feel it out. You'll get it.


Anonymous said...

omg, i get that!
I am just now learning maille on my own and my level of skill at this point is the clover, only (sighs). I have made a few out of all 16g Steel rings and found myself in dire need of some tylenol. Thanks for the tips!

Athena's Armoury said...

I started in stainless, too. I thought it was such an amazing metal until I realized how difficult it was to work with. I still love stainless, but would never recommend it to a beginner. As a beginner, you're focusing on figuring out the weaves and working on your closures. You shouldn't have to worry about wrestling with the stainless on top of that, too. Go get yourself some copper or BA and have fun!!

jewelstreet said...

Oh, I know the Death Grip all too well! Good tips.