Obviously, trying to construct an entire mail armor suit is a bit too ambitious of a project for a beginner to attempt.
Chances are that mistakes will be made, discourage will be encountered, disillusion will settle in, and the project will never be completed.
However, beginners must start somewhere, right?
What are the best chain mail projects for beginners? Simple jewelry items, such as bracelets, anklets, earrings, and necklaces, are ideal chain mail projects for beginners. The best beginner projects will teach basic weaves and techniques while keeping the project stimulating and enjoyable.
It’s perfectly natural for a beginner to want to dive right into complex projects, but that’s usually not a wise choice.
To foster an enduring love of chain mail, you need to master some basics before moving to more difficult endeavors. No worries though.
You’re about to discover several fun, creative projects perfect for newbies that will challenge but not defeat you.
Chain Mail Projects for Beginners
For those of you with zero experience working with chain mail, you’ll want to start with a simple project that can be easily completed in a reasonable amount of time.
Save the complicated weaves for later when you’ve gained a little more knowledge and practice. For now, stick to a project that calls for a very basic weave, like the European 4-in-1, Byzantine, or half Persian 3-in-1.
(I go into more detail about basic weaves for beginners in this article.)
Now, you might be thinking that there’s probably not much that you can make with a simple, beginner’s weave pattern, but that’s actually far from the truth.
There are a ton of really neat jewelry items, accessories, and artistic creations that only utilize simple-to-master chain mail weaves.
We’ll look at some fantastic ideas for initial projects in just a second, but for now, rest assured that starting with the basics is the best approach when just getting into the chain mail craft.
Advantages of keeping things simple at first include:
- You’ll gain knowledge, experience, needed skills, and confidence.
- Many of the basic weaves are fundamental to more intricate weaves and must be mastered first.
- You’ll become familiar with the repetition that is a critical aspect of chain mail.
- Your fingers will begin to develop muscle memory, making future work easier and faster.
- Easy projects can be completed in just a few hours (learn more in my article here).
Regardless of which project idea you decide to try first, you’ll want to keep several things in mind as you work.
First, know that chain mail is all about repeating a given pattern.
As you become more familiar with the steps to a particular weave, you’ll likely discover that it is possible to use shortcuts in some weaves, such as making multiple sets of rings in advance, and then joining them together.
Tricks like this will make a noticeable difference in your speed, so don’t despair if at first it seems like a small project takes forever to complete. You will get better and faster with time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to know how to properly open and close jump rings.
If you don’t do it the right way, you’ll permanently ruin the rings’ shape. I explain how to open and close rings correctly in this article.
Chain Mail Jewelry
Making various jewelry items is probably the most popular form of modern chain mail today. With just the simplest of weaves, you can create beautiful:
- Bracelets and anklets.
What’s nice about making chain mail jewelry is that once you master a basic aspect, you can use it in many different applications.
For example, Rena at Jewelry Making Journal has an excellent tutorial for making a simple chain that, by adding length or switching ring sizes, can be used to create earrings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, key chains, and even belts.
When you’re comfortable with a pattern, you can elaborate the design easily by incorporating beads, charms, dangles, and colored rings to make unique jewelry you’ll be proud to wear or give away as gifts.
If you already know that jewelry will be the main focus of your hobby, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Chain Maille Jewelry Workshop by Karen Karon.
This book will lead you through the basics and teach you more involved designs as you gain necessary skills.
It’s a must-have for those serious about making custom chain mail jewelry!
If you’re super creative and already have a guide book or favorite tutorial video, you may decide to create your own bracelet design using one of the beginner weaves.
For most beginners though, a bracelet kit is really the way to go.
Tip: To transform a bracelet into an anklet, just add an additional section or two to the bracelet pattern until it fits comfortably on your ankle.
The Rainbow Byzantine Bracelet Kit by Weave Got Maille is perfect for beginners.
Although the design looks quite complicated, the Byzantine weave is actually really easy to learn.
As it is a very common pattern, you’ll do well to fully master this weave before moving on to more complex designs.
The Double Orbital Barrel Bracelet Kit is another ideal beginner project.
This classy silver and gold bracelet should only take two or three hours to complete, though the design is fancy enough that your friends won’t believe that you made it yourself.
Because of the short overall length, you’ll find that earrings can be made in just a matter of minutes after you gather your supplies and set up your workspace.
Doubtful? Watch this short video to see how easy it really is.
After you have made several pairs of simple earrings, there’s little doubt that you’ll be designing your own creations in no time.
As with the bracelets, you can add color, beads, and small charms and dangles to spice up a simple pattern with your own creative flair.
Shynek’s Earring Making Kit comes with 360 earring hooks, 340 earring backs, tweezers, a handy jump ring opening tool, and 1,800 jump rings in two sizes and four different colors.
Although no instructions are included, a quick online search will soon get your creative juices flowing.
The European 4-in-1, barrel, or shaggy loops are great weaves for fun, dangling earrings.
Once you’ve mastered bracelets and earrings, necklaces will naturally follow. You can use chain mail weaves to make the chain, a cute pendant, or both.
Due to the additional length, necklaces will usually take longer to complete, but they are fun and rewarding to make.
The Ombre Color Wheel Necklace Kit makes creating a cheerful, colorful necklace a piece of cake.
Your finished creation will be a 36 inch, continuous loop necklace of gradient color rosettes joined by silver rings that is sure to wow anyone.
Another necklace kit suitable for beginners is the Whirlybird with Swarovski Crystal Kit.
This kit includes all the jump rings you need, a royal blue satin cord, a bail to hold your pendant, a gorgeous blue crystal, a bead mat, and full instructions.
Chain Mail Dreamcatchers
According to folklore, dreamcatchers allow good dreams to filter through while trapping nightmares.
They were traditionally hung above children’s beds, but now dreamcatchers are popular artistic decor for the home.
While you may be familiar with traditional dreamcatchers, you may not have realized that you can make your own custom version of these charms out of chain mail.
What makes this project ideal for beginners is that larger jump rings can be used, so there is no need to struggle holding onto and manipulating tiny rings.
This project is also a fantastic opportunity to experiment with brightly colored jump rings if you choose to create your own design.