Introduction: Chainmaille 101: Helm Chain and Varents

About: Hello, Maxumx here, 30yo jack of all trades and truly master of none as the saying gose. I'm primarily a 3d artist and chaimaille maniac. i like to work on projects larg and small. but foremost i like to share…

WARNING!!!! This is not your normal tutorial! I am going to cover one base weave and several of it variants. The weave I have chosen for this, is one that looks good done in almost any size. However if you're like me you’ll like to do it as small as you can.

We will start with Helm Chain and move on to cover two sheet forms and two chain variants of the Helm Chain. When you complete this tutorial you will have a better understanding (I hope) of how a simple weaves can get complicated and in how simple it is to do so.

OK let us begin with a explanation of the Helm Chain it self. Helm is a orbital weave that is nothing more than a 2in2 chain with 2 ring sizes. These ring sizes can be very unforgiving however. The smaller ring must be able to fit two wide inside of the larger ring. This can usually be accomplished by winding up a mandrel and then back down over the previous coil. Springback in most materials (say for soft metal like copper) will pull it self back enough to allow for this tolerance.

But enough of that lets Get weaving shall we!

General Key: (this goes for all my tutorials.)
Blue = inactive or completed weave/ring
Green = Active or handled Ring
Red = intersecting or weave through Ring
Yellow = Orbital/Captive Ring

Ring sizes: we are going to need three ring sizes for this tutorial
14g 3/8 ID
14g 3/16 ID
14g 11/64 ID

Helm Chain:

Only two ring sizes are needed here, lets use largest and the mid sized ones. We’ll save the small ones for later.

First we are going to close two large rings and weave them onto two mid sized ones forming a 2 in 2 chain like so.
Next we need to add the orbital ring, and something to hold it on there. Place the closed orbital ring over the two smaller rings and weave in two more larger rings holding the orbital ring in place.
Now this doesn't look like Helm Chain! Oh hang on. Open the two large rings on either end so that it now lays like pictured below.
Now that we have the starter done we have to change how we are working on it. So what we are going to do here is to put two of the mid sized rings through two of the newly moved larger ones.
Excellent, now weave in your next orbital around the two smaller rings and in between the larger ones. This can be a bit tricky but if you go in at a 45deg or so it slips in easier and is also easier to close.
Almost done now. Pick up two more larger rings and weave them thru the smaller two rings one on each side of the chain.
And as you can see at this point we are back at step 4. Continue and repeat as you like until it has the desired size.

Practice making Helm Chain for a time or so. Then when you are ready we can move on to the next step.

The Next Step: Sheet Forms

Helm has lots of open space in it allowing for many different types of connection to it from many forms of weaves. But to day we are only going to cover two of the possible versions that can be done.

Sheet Form #1: Conundrum

Conundrum sheet is a vary flexible sheet at its connection points. But is a bit stiff on the bias directions.

We will be using the same two ring sizes here as we did for the basic Helm Chain.

Step One: Make a few chains of Helm
Connecting the Helm Chain is not hard, open and insert the smaller sized ring through the orbital ring in both pieces of Helm.
Next we have to use the same orbital ring on the top but use a new one on the bottom. Like this.
And it the same over and over again till you run out of Helm to attach. Should look something like this when you get 4 or so rows put on.

Sheet Form #2: Conundrum 2

Unlike Conundrum, Conundrum 2 is a fair bit stiffer and almost solid in some directions and more hinge like on others.
Again you’ll need a few chunks of Helm Chain (yellow removed as they will no longer be orbital).
Now here is the hard part about this sheet form, you have to weave each smaller ring through 6 others, 3 from each strand of Helm.
Now you have to reverse the selection, weaving in to the same ones and a few new ones.
And as in the previous conundrum you simply follow that pattern all the way down. Finished section should look like this.
OK now that you have them down lets get something in here for the jewelry makers and what not. How about some Helm Chain Variations.

Chain Variations of Helm: Celtic Dawn

Celtic Dawn is very simple but very good looking version of Helm Chain. Is does use an additional ring size the smallest from my list above.
First thing we are going to want to do with this is get a bunch of rings woven on the edges, using the smallest rings weave 1 through 2 and 2 through 1. By that I mean weave two rings on the single orbital and 1 ring on the double connecting sections. Be sure to do this on both sides.
Next grabbing one ring from two surrounding orbital section and the single ring from the connecting section. Weave a small ring through the bunch forming the ^ shape on the top of each area, should look like this.

Repeat this on the reverse side and proceed down the chain.
Simple adjustment but most fetching!
Next we move on to the Ring eater weave of this tutorial.
Chain Variation #2: Rondo Maille

Rondo maille is the bastard son of Helm and Byzantine. And in being so is very ring intensive. But it looks SWEET.

With out further ado lets get going!

We are using the third ring size here as well.
Fist step is to weave two rings through the double connector rings like so.
Now we are making Byz so add two more small rings as such.
Now here we are going to play a little different card from your average Byz, fold over the rings as you would normally but add 3 rings to hold it in place instead of the normal 2 rings.
Make a few of these sections on each side of the Helm b4 moving on.
Grab the “/” out ring from one of the Byz sections and the “_” from the one next to it. And add through them two small rings on either side of the orbital in the middle. Note if the weave is not tight you don’t need to weave them to either side of the orbital.
Now continue this on all other parts of the weave and it will soon look like this.
OK that is it, I am done making this tutorial!!!!! Hope you like it and play nice with your new skills.