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Book Review- Unconventional Chain Mail Jewelry
I always find contemporary chain mail exciting. It's one of those techniques that it's very easy to get caught in a rut making the same style things over and over again. The best contemporary chain mail books are the ones that inspire new ideas. This one is an excellent example. Laura Poplin combines techniques and materials with classic chain mail weaves to come up with jewelry projects that are absolutely contemporary and wearable at the office.
The introduction covers the materials and basic techniques like soldering a hoop, using a dapping block for doming metal disks, basic leatherwork skills and how to color metal. Because of the use leather, beads and metal shapes, a lot of the pieces work up fairly quickly for chain mail. For people who dislike the S word, most of the projects don't use solder, and those that do can be modified for wire wrapping instead.
If you're interested in metal working, she uses cut, textured and domed metal pieces in a lot of the projects like the one pictured on the cover. The S curves of chain mail around pierced domed and hammered disks is part of the Ume suite which includes earrings and a bracelet.
The projects are separated by chain mail weave types, and each chapter begins with an introduction to that weave.
Euro 4 in 1 Weave is the first chapter. The beaded and spiraled Champs-Élysées earrings are one of my favorite projects in that chapter. The shape is interesting and fun with lots of movement and a splash of color added by the beads. They would look gorgeous with a cocktail dress, or with jeans and a favorite t-shirt. The Lille Bracelet is one that could be modified for a man easily, it combines metal shapes, chain mail and leather for an edgy casual fashion look.
Oops weave, or unbalanced 4 in 1 is the next chapter, it's shown using colored rings to make it very clear how to weave it. My favorite project in this chapter is the first one, the Autoire Earrings, she shows them in blue dyed leather, but you could also stamp leather with a rubber stamp for a more personalized pair of earrings.
Complicated and visually stunning Byzantine weave comes next. If you've ever woven chain mail, this may have been one of the most challenging of the standard weaves to learn, but it makes gorgeous chains. The chain is used most effectively in the De-Luz baroque pearl lariat. If the necklace, as shown, is too bold, you could easily use the same technique with smaller faceted crystals for a different look.
Chrysanthemum weave, a 4 in 1 variation that makes round rosette shapes comes next. Th Joie De Vivre pendant dangles one in a ring with stamped metal charms hanging from it for a nice affirmation necklace.
Lastly comes Japanese weave. I mentioned the Ume suite earlier, I also love the rich and bold looking Keitaro choker, which combines metal shapes with the weave using different ring sizes to make a collar necklace with enough shaping to drape beautifully. It could easily be a signature piece.
Great contemporary projects and good instructions for using leather and metal in your chain mail pieces make this an inspiring and interesting book for beginner to intermediate chain mail weavers.
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Kalmbach Books provided this review copy of Unconventional Chain Mail Jewelry to me free of charge.
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