Introduction: Chainmaille Bracelet
This instructable will make a chainmaille bracelet, both a simplified form and a more complicated one. We'll start with the tools necessary and the basics of working with jump rings, then get into the pattern. If you're already familiar with working with jump rings, head over to step 3 to start the chain.
(Apologies if the orange background is too bright, but it helped to show the details of the rings. Whatever surface you work on, it's helpful to be different than the material you are working with, and to have edges, so nothing rolls away.)
Step 1: Materials & Tools
You'll need a pair of needle nosed pliers and a pair of bent nosed pliers (or just two pair of needle nosed).
If you're going to be working with jump rings a lot, you could use one pair of needle nosed and a jump ring tool, but I often find myself grabbing the bent nosed even when using the tool. The ring tool goes over your thumb (or whatever finger works best for you) and provides leverage for opening and closing. It has different slots for different gauges (thicknesses) of rings. Essentially, you use it just like pictured, only with your thumb in there.
Jump rings! There are lots of instructions around the internet on how to make your own, but I got a set of different colored and different sized ones from Amazon.
For the pattern in this instructable, you'll need (A) small rings, (B) rings just big enough to fit completely around the small rings, and (C) rings slightly bigger than that. I used different colors for ease of seeing the process.
Step 2: Working With Jump Rings
Jump rings are basically a circle of metal that has a slit in it, so it's not really a solid circle.
To OPEN a ring:
Twist (like ripping a paper, but gently), don't pull (like unplugging an extension cord).
To CLOSE a ring:
Twist back. When twisting, you can apply a little pressure to increase or decrease the size of the circle. This is handy if you make your own rings and there's too much of a gap, or if you buy them and they have too much overlap.
If you've never worked with jump rings before, practice on all your sizes without doing any weaving, just to get the hang of it. Most metal rings are pretty forgiving, but I have broken rings being too enthusiastic.
It is also helpful at this point if you close up all the (A) rings. You'll mostly be just sliding them onto other open rings, so it's easier to make sure they're all neat and closed now.
Bonus: most jewelry has jump rings involved, so if you ever have an earring come apart or a necklace chain break, now you have some basic skills to attempt to fix it.
Step 3: The Basic Chain
We'll start with a simple 2x2 chain.
Start with one C ring. Open it, slide on four A rings, and close it again.
Add a second C ring, through all four A rings, but not through the first C ring.
Your third C ring will go through two of the A rings, and add two more. A fourth C goes exactly through the same As as the third.
Continue on, two Cs through two previous As and adding two new As. See the pictures to get an image of this.
Continue until the bracelet is long enough. You'll want enough room so it doesn't cut off circulation, but not so much it will fall off. Really, this will depend on the preferences of the intended wearer.
Step 4: Adding the Helm's Weave
Now it's time for the B rings. This part is a little bit fiddly, but be patient and you'll get the hang of it.
Open the first B ring. It's going to go BETWEEN a pair of Cs, around a pair of As, between the next two Cs, and then close. Again, the pictures will help.
As you go, it may be helpful to drape the bracelet between two fingers to hold it in place.
Again, this is a little tricky, but keep going and don't give up!
Step 5: Advancing...
You could end here, by adding a simple lobster clasp to one end and ONE A to the end (the clasp will attach to the single ring).
OR... you could keep going!
First, make a second helm's weave chain the same length as the first.
Then, use As to connect the two chains together at the Cs. (In the pictures, I switched to thicker rings in different colors, but you can achieve the same thing with two As, and I'll refer to them as the connecting As.)
Step 6: Connecting Helm's Weave
Now that you've practiced the helm's weave with the two chains, and have connected them, it's time for an even trickier and fiddlier helm's weave.
Using Bs (remember, this is the ring that fits completed around but not too loosely the connecting As), go between a pair of Cs, around the connecting As, between the other Cs, and close.
As you go, you'll notice the bracelet is becoming less and less flexible. The Bs stabilize the chainmaille. This might mean you end up wanting it longer or shorter.
To finish, you can either add a lobster claw, or other type of claps. The picture has a three-ringed clasp that I bought at a craft store.
Step 7: More Fun!
Now that you know some chainmaille basics, you can make earrings or other things.
Pictured is a set of somewhat matching earrings that I made. First, I laid out the jumps rings needed, then connected them up. Be careful with earrings, though, because chainmaille can get a bit heavy, and if your ears aren't used to it, you don't want to overdo it.