Chain making and chain mail jewelry are hotter then ever and growing in popularity due in part to the many ways of working and embellishing wire. Including beads to variations of the European 4-in-1, oriental 6-in-1, Byzantine and other standard chain mail patterns add color and sparkle as shown in this collection of twenty-seven projects. Whyte touches on the basic wire types, pliers and other tools, beads and how to properly open and close jump rings before diving into easy to understand, color-coded chain weaves.
The projects begin with a simple yet elegant, bead encrusted spiral necklace, lots of easy earrings, pendant bails, eyeglass chains and bracelets before tackling slightly more challenging weaves like the Zig Zag Bracelet or Flower Mail Choker. The Nautilus Necklace is the “eye candy” piece, more for the focal point bead then for the chain work involved so it is disappointing there was no source given for it.
A beautifully produced book geared to the beginner, the focus is on basic chain making rather then what most people think of as classic chain mail like hauberks or gauntlets. On the down side, only a passing mention was given to cutting your own rings, a necessity in creating affordable chains or mail while the critical importance of aspect ratios was ignored entirely. The sample this reviewer made of the Flower Mail Bracelet using the ring and bead sizes given, turned out too loose to properly hold its shape the way it is shown in the book. On the plus side, the step-by-step color-coded instructions provide beginning chain makers with a clear visual on the process and the excellent photography of the projects offer inspiration. Consider augmenting this with Great Wire Jewelry by Irene Peterson also published by Lark Books for a broader introduction to this engrossing craft.