We are back again with another wonderful feature of one of the great members of the ArtFire Chainmaille Guild. This week we meet Jessica C Jewelry and see how she tackles our questions. So over to Jessica.
1) How long have you been a Chainmailler?
I've been making chainmaille since the mid-90s. I went to a Renaissance Faire that was held in Raleigh and became intrigued with a man who was making chainmaille while he sat at his booth. I watched him for a while before my friends drug me away, but I was too interested to forget it. I hit the library the next day and found a few books with fairly decent pictures that I could work from. I taught myself European 4-1 from a black and white photo in one of those books. Since I mainly made cuffs and armor pieces, European 4-1 was really all I needed. It wasn't until around 2003 that I started digging online to find more patterns that I could scale down into jewelry. Armor is nice to have, but it took way to long to make it and I really couldn't show it off without giving myself a hernia trying to carry it (all was made from galvanized or stainless steel). I've been making mainly jewelry since 2003.
2) Why do you like Chainmaille?
I guess I like chainmaille because I love puzzles, and to me, putting together chainmaille is like putting together a 3-D puzzle. Each piece has to go in it's proper place or you just end up with a pile of jumble rings that don't make anything pretty.
3) What is your favourite type of ring?
Not sure if you mean size, metal, or shape, so I'll cover all. For size, I use all sizes: 14g rings up to 24g rings. I can't get any gauges smaller than 24 gauge to hold their shape. I use only round rings. I tried oval ones once, but they frustrated me to no end, so they still sit in their little bag in my studio. And for metals, I try to use as many different kinds as I can. I first used galvanized and stainless steel, so my hands are used to working with them. Now, I've added bright and anodized aluminum, bare and enameled copper, and silver to my repertoire. I've fiddled with niobium, but I don't really like it a lot, so I only use it when it is requested for hypo-allerginic reasons. Neoprene has been fun to work with, and I have some new items coming soon that use those interesting rings. Can't afford gold at the moment, so I haven't really every used any before.
4) What kind of items do you prefer to make?
I mostly make bracelets and earrings. I'm working on more necklaces to add to my storefront soon. And I have a hauberk that I have been working on for a LONG time. It's been in storage for a while because the person I was making it for decided after three months worth of work that he could not afford to pay for the finished piece, so he canceled the contract. I may finish it one day to sell, or maybe just to hang on my dummy as a display.
5) Which weave would you like to learn that you don't currently know?
Half-Persian 3-1. It vexes me. I can't get it started.
6) Which piece are you most proud of?
I don't think I'm really proud of any particular piece. The hauberk, when finished, will be something that I could take pride in, since it has an inlay and it's a piece that required a lot of time. But as for my jewelry pieces, I really don't have a particular one that I am most proud of.
7) What advice would you give to someone who was considering doing Chainmaille?
If you are just starting out, don't start small. Use slightly larger rings that you actually want to use eventually to give yourself time to learn weaves without frustrating yourself by pinging little rings across the room.
Thank you Jessica! Stop by Jessica C Jewelry on ArtFire to see more of her wonderful creations.