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What is Chain Maille?

By Jackie Lacy

During January, students participate in various projects. One of the projects offered this year is Chain Maille. A common question is ‘What’s chain maille? Are the students writing letters and waiting for a bunch of letters back?’.

Maille means links, mesh, or netting. The Chain Maille students are learning the ancient art of linking metal rings together. They are creating jewelry and other small pieces using various weaves.

This class gives our students an appreciation for the long, hard work that must have gone into creating chain maille armor. The second year students are learning the European and Japanese weaves used to create armor. The first year students learn the basics of chain maille and 4 different weaves.

After learning a weave, they are given the freedom to design and create a piece of their choice. Often they create earrings and bracelets. But some have decided to create a more challenging piece such as a hacky sack or a crown.

There is great satisfaction in being creative and learning a new skill. Once you get the hang of a weave, the rhythm and repetition can be relaxing. Like learning any new skill, it requires practice and perseverance. There is value in taking a deep breath, stepping away for a minute to clear your mind and rest your eyes. As a class, the students help and encourage one another. Together they share their ideas, struggles and victories.

Some students have loved chain maille so much that they have asked where to buy supplies and get started on their own. They have decided that they want to pursue chain maille as a hobby.

When I was introduced to chain maille, I thought I would make a necklace and that would be the end. But to my surprise I fell in love with it and decided to keep learning and growing in my skills. To me this class shows the power in trying new things. You just never know where it will take you.

It brings me great joy to teach the JRHS students chain maille. They get so excited! I love seeing what they create with their new knowledge.

“This year I have enjoyed advancing my skills in chain maille and I always like getting to know the people in the class and growing relationships with them and talking while we work on our projects.” Erin, Sophomore student.

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