Beadmaille, by Cindy Thomas Pankopf is a stand out book on the subject of beaded chain mail. There are other maille books that use beads as an integral part of the jewelry design, but this one uses bead weaving.
Since I haven't seen much use of seed beads in chain mail, this book excited me with it's use of seed bead weaving methods. The seed beads are used to connect rings, form structure, add bright color and they are just as important as the mail knitting is to the designs.
The designs are innovative and different. Instead of being something just to wear to Renaissance Faires or with costumes, they are every day wearable. They are artistic and colorful. The basic techniques the author uses to weave the beads and rings together can inspire other designs. Indeed, like traditional chain mail techniques, a lot of the stitch styles can be used to build larger more dramatic pieces.
The introduction covers both basic beading stitches and how to make the rings for chain mail. So if your strength is seed bead weaving, you can just quickly go over that section, and pay more attention to how to wind and cut rings. If your strength is chain mail, you can pay more attention to how to do the bead weaves. It also covers the tools and supplies you'll need.
The projects themselves are wonderful. Some of them don't use hand cut rings, but instead use easy to find findings like hammered rings which are connected by bead weaving. The combination of metal and glass creates wonderful possibilities of variation by the metal type or color of beads you use.
My favorite projects are the Cleopatra Necklace which combines right angle weave in 3 dimensions with hammered rings and basic chain making techniques to make a bib necklace that makes a great statement, the Triad ring which combines peyote stitch with chain mail for a simple and lovely little ring and the thick star patterned Two-Tone Double Wide Cuff which combines jump rings in 2 colors with seed beads for a substantial heavy piece that will garner comments.
There are 23 projects, and they cover many techniques and use a few different stitches. Some of the designs, as presented, aren't to my tastes, but those are inspiring because I can see how I'd like them with smaller seed beads or different colors.
If you're a chain mail artist who wants to add seed beads to your pieces, or a seed bead artist who is fascinated by chain mail, this book is a great start to learning how to combine both techniques.
You can get this book directly from the publisher, Lark Crafts or by clicking the Amazon.com affiliate link below.
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Lark Crafts provided this review copy of Beadmaille to me free of charge.
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