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Byzantine chain patterns


#1

Hi folks,

I’ve been researching various chain making and chainmaille patterns.
I am keen to have a go at making a Byzantine chain but have some
questions:

  1. When looking at chainmaille, it seems that the rings are
    unsoldered and I suppose for that application it doesn’t matter as
    any forces which may cause the rings to come apart ordinarily, will
    be spread over a larger area. But for the purposes of making chains
    for jewellery, it is obviously more desirable to have soldered links.
    Would you use some sort of mini torch with a “sharp” flame to
    accomplish this or are links in handmade chains fused or welded in
    some other way?

  2. I already have a very attractive, chunky and quite dense sterling
    silver Byzantine chain that I bought whilst at a biker rally (back
    in my more daring biker days). It has oval rather than circular jump
    rings. This may be one of my daft questions, but to make such a
    chain, would you start with oval rings or round rings and then
    gently stretch the whole chain carefully with annealing between
    steps?

  3. Also, the chain I have has a sort of square cross section and I
    wondered whether this and the oval links had perhaps been achieved
    by being pulled through a square holed draw plate after annealing?

Any advice from anyone who’s made such a chain or indeed anyone more
in the know than me would be greatly appreciated. I plan to attempt
at least one in sterling and eventually would love to make one in
gold when I can afford it and I’ve “mastered” the technique.

Thanks.

Helen
Preston, UK


#2

Helen, most chainmaille is unsoldered. You are correct about the
number of rings distributing the stress of the chain. I would shape
the rings before you weave them.

Leanne
Leanne Elliott Soden
http://www.piecesofclass.net


#3

Helen,

A small flame, carefully aimed, is what I use when soldering
individual links in an overall pattern. Too large a flame risks
flowing metal in the wrong places, or fusing adjacent links.

I’ve used the anneal-and-stretch method to oval out rings, but I’ve
heard of chains being either drawn though wooden drawplates or
rolled through rolling mills. A wire-making mill would create a
square cross section.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com


#4

Hi Loren,

A small flame, carefully aimed, is what I use when soldering
individual links in an overall pattern. Too large a flame risks
flowing metal in the wrong places, or fusing adjacent links. 

I’ve just bought a new oxy/propane set-up but I can use my old
handheld butane torch for chain links, it has a very controllable
flame.

I've used the anneal-and-stretch method to oval out rings, but
I've heard of chains being either drawn though wooden drawplates or
rolled through rolling mills. A wire-making mill would create a
square cross section. 

I can feel some experimenting coming on! There are so many different
types of chain methods, loop in loop, chainmaille, crotheted,
knitted, and I hadn’t even thought of knotted like the lovely ones
you make.

What would you advise regarding width of wire for making handmade
chains? Preferably in terms of millimeters, ie. 0.? mm. I don’t
understand the American wire gauges.

Thanks.
Helen
Preston, UK


#5

Hi Leanne,

most chainmaille is unsoldered. You are correct about the number of
rings distributing the stress of the chain. I would shape the rings
before you weave them. 

Thanks for your reply. I suppose using oval rings to start with is a
safer bet than trying to stretch it afterwards and risk breakage,
and it is just as easy to make oval jump rings as round - as long as
one can find a suitable oval mandrel round which to wind the wire.

Thanks again and by the way, your chains on your website are
beautiful. I love the look of handmade chains.

Helen
Preston, UK


#6
When looking at chainmaille, it seems that the rings are unsoldered
and I suppose for that application it doesn't matter as any forces
which may cause the rings to come apart ordinarily 

Helen, someone already replied that chainmail (chainmaille–) is
usually not soldered. I also dislike that, partly because the exposed
edges are bad for clothing. Whether you do or not, one thing is to
solder 1/2 of them to begin with. Almost all chains can be done with
an open loop-closed loop-open loop thing. That is at least 1/2 more
strong, and then you only have to solder the other 1/2 if at all. Th
other method is riveted links, but those are 1" links and the like,
not 2mm or 3mm like jewelry. If you do solder, do it row by row as
you assemble, don’t do the whole piece and then expect to solder
every ring.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#7
the chain I have has a sort of square cross section and I wondered
whether this and the oval links had perhaps been achieved by being
pulled through a square holed draw plate after annealing?

I’ve seen and admired that type of chain. At first, I assumed it was
drawn through a square-holed plate-- would definitely have to have
each link fused or soldered. I can see some potential problems with
drawing a Byzantine chain through a square-holed plate (or any
plate). With Byzantine, the weave is has the “caged” units joined by
links. Within those “caged” units, the jump rings are angled towards
each other. I wonder how easily this would draw because of that.
Seems like the rings that are angled towards the draw plate might
splay out and not pass through the plate. Perhaps those square
Byzantine chains are created by some other means?? I am also
interested in learning how to do this.


#8

Hello Helen,

Regarding hand made chains. I have made hundreds in my early years, I
started my work life in the trade making regalia, which of course
included many chain sections for Mayoral regalia. One of the longest
chains I made was for the “Doorkeeper’s Regalia” of the Houses of
parliament, these silver chains are each about 60 inches long with
oval links. The links were turned onto an oval spit, for oval link
chains the method is to file a brass oval spit, about four inches
long, or if making small link chains, oval nails from B&Q make
perfect spits.Then I would wind a layer of wet tissue paper around
the spit, like a bandage, on top of this paper I would wind the
annealed silver wire making about 5O links. The links are tight on
the spit so you then heat the whole lot, burning off the paper,
which loosens the length of links and they slide off the spit. After
turning the required amount of links you are left with lengths that
need cutting.After annealing each length, I used a piercing saw to
cut off each link. Then I would close 50% of the links and solder
them with hard solder, the next step was to join two soldered links
into a length of three and solder the centre joining link, then you
had to join two lengths of three into lengths of seven and so on
until you reach the required length. I hope this makes sense, as
this is how we made chains back in the 1960s. When you mentioned a
squaring off of the links, this is usually a machine made chain
which has been cut. It is sold as diamond cut trace chain by my
suppliers “Cookson” In my apprentice days I did try pulling a chain
through a drawplate, which was a disaster as unless every link is
perfectly soldered and perfectly annealed, the chain will either
break or stretch unevenly. I hope this all makes sense.

Regards James Miller


#9
When looking at chainmaille, it seems that the rings are unsoldered 

Chainmail as armour has always used rings which are rivetted closed
to prevent them being forced open by a sharp arrow point. See

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#10

Hi John,

Whether you do or not, one thing is to solder 1/2 of them to begin
with. 

Yes, this is what I’ve done when I’ve made simple chains so far. I
think the unsoldered links just look tatty and unfinished.

If you do solder, do it row by row as you assemble, don't do the
whole piece and then expect to solder every ring. 

I would be inclined to do just that (solder row by row that is). I
had the opposite advice from someone else this morning, but with a
Byzantine chain which is so dense, you wouldn’t be able to get at
them afterwards - unless the links were very loose and floppy - but
I prefer the dense look. The friend who gave me the opposite advice
re soldering did, however, advise the use of paste solder which
sounds like a very good idea to me. I spend forever retrieving bits
of solder that have jumped off a join when I start to heat it!

Thanks for the advice John. If you have any thoughts on the ideal
gauge of wire to make such a chain I’d appreciate it. My chain which
I bought looks as though it was made from 1.0mm although it could be
0.8 or 0.9mm.

Helen
Preston, UK


#11

Dear Ian,

Chainmail as armour has always used rings which are rivetted
closed to prevent them being forced open by a sharp arrow point.
See http://tinyurl.com/3dgm8g 

Ah of course. My research obviously didn’t reach that far back. The
sites I looked at were written by people who are in the battle re-
enactment business so everything I looked at was unsoldered. It was
really interesting to see the different patterns used though, and
noticed that some of them would translate nicely into the jewellery
world.

Helen


#12

Dear Julia,

Seems like the rings that are angled towards the draw plate might
splay out and not pass through the plate. Perhaps those square
Byzantine chains are created by some other means?? 

Yes, I thought that too. I also wondered whether it was thoroughly
annealed and then gently hammered to give it its flat faces. Would
that be a possibility? I had a close look at the one I bought and
there are some “drag” marks on some of the links, for about an inch,
which looks as though it may have been drawn through a draw plate.
Every link is definitely soldered and I would want to do that when I
make one. Terrie Masters advised using paste solder which sounds
like a really good idea (I am always having trouble with bits of
solder “jumping” off joints, thus making soldering last far longer
than it needs to). And John Donivan advised soldering half the links
closed first. The instructions I downloaded off the internet also
said the same. As for oval links, James Miller said it would be
easier to make them oval to start with, and gave the example of using
an oval nail from the hardware store to make a spit/mandrel for
making links. I’ve had some great advice on this one. Thanks to all
who have answered so far.

Helen
Preston, UK


#13
What would you advise regarding width of wire for making handmade
chains? Preferably in terms of millimeters, ie. 0.? mm. 

Helen, I posted various chain-mail websites lately - I can send them
again if you like. In almost all of them there is a formula for
calculating wire size for ring diameter and the density of the chain

  • they have a term for that which I don’t recall. Essentially it’s a
    way of figuring whether the links will be tight or loose or even go
    together by calculating which gauge to use for the size of ring.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14

Helen, I make both soldered and not soldered chain, but I’ve never h=
ad the desire to use oval inks. I suppose it has it’s own kind of
unique look, on the other hand, there are many ways to vary the
byzantine weave, using round links, with different metals and ring
sizes. One of my better sellers would be 18ga wire links (1.02mm),
with a 3.2mm ID. Makes a very nice, tight, but still very flexible
Byzantine chain. There is a site that deals with Maille, but also has
a huge library of tutorials for making different chain weaves. You’ll
find Byzantine, Persian and oriental weaves and an impressive amount
of variations.

http://www.mailleartisans.org

Be careful, it’s addicting…

Charlie-Charlie Wyckoff
Klamath Falls, Oregon
www.charlieschaincraft.com


#15
oval nails from B&Q 

James, thanks for the short article on chain making. What is B&Q,
and do you know if these oval nails are available in the U.S. ?

thank you Andy


#16

Dear John,

Yes, sorry. I too recall a term I came across when reading probably
the same sites. I’ve probably got them saved on my favourites. Some
ratio or other. I’ll look at them again. Thanks.

Helen


#17

Hi Andy,

What is B&Q, and do you know if these oval nails are available in
the U.S. ? 

Sorry, B&Q is a DIY superstore in the UK. You’ll obviously have the
equivalent in America. James was talking about ordinary nails with an
oval cross section, I’m not sure what they are used for but I’m sure
you too will have them.

Helen
Preston, UK


#18

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for the website, that is one I’ve not seen before. I have
saved loads of similar sites and have printed off instructions for
the weaves I like. I loved your site too. I particularly like your
bracelets (i think they’re bracelets) where you’ve got Byzantine
chain units separated by jump rings - they give a very unique and
interesting look.

I can imagine chain making is addictive. That’s one of the reasons I
want to get into it. I’m a knitter and crocheter (or was in a former
life) so I love doing that sort of thing, and I also hate hanging a
pendant I’ve made and that I’m really happy with, from a mass
produced chain. Handmade chains are so much more aesthetically
pleasing and add a perceived and real value to a piece.

Thanks for your help.

Helen
Preston, UK


#19

The 50+ year old Byz chain I have has soldered links and also is
soldered at the “folded back” rings. The chain has been either been
milled or drawn through a drawplate, as the edges of the slightly
oval links are “smudged” (for lack of a better description). The
Byzantine weave is a square-ish weave anyway so I don’t think it
would take much to emphasize this.

Depending on how heavy you want the chain 1.3 mm to.65 mm is a great
range of sizes for this weave. An 18 inch necklace worked in 1 mm
wire, 3.5 mm inner diameter round-wire-round rings uses approximately
1.5 ozt of sterling, more if worked in gold. Most of the time I work
it in 1 mm wire or.8 mm wire, although I have worked it in B&S 24
gauge wire. Beautiful, very delicate, and will make you cross-eyed. I
solder 1/3 of the links before assembly, 2/3 as I am assembling it. I
highly recommend the paste hard solder in a syringe for chain work,
especially for the smaller gauges. I do pick solder the larger
gauges, also.

I hope this helped. If I can be of further help, let me know.

Michelle
Decolletage Jewels
ChainWeavers.com


#20
In almost all of them there is a formula for calculating wire size
for ring diameter and the density of the chain - they have a term
for that which I don't recall. Essentially it's a way of figuring
whether the links will be tight or loose or even go together by
calculating which gauge to use for the size of ring. 

Aspect Ratio (AR) is the term. It is a handy little equation. If you
know that a weave will work with a given wire diameter and inner
diameter of a ring then, you can change the wire size and find the
ring size, as the aspect ratio is a constant. It works for round-wire
round-rings. Adjustments have to be made for rings made from square
wire, and I would assume for oval rings. I don’t work with oval
rings much so I don’t know what adjustments need to be made for
working with oval rings. Adjustments for square wire round-rings are
noted below.

~~ This next part is taken from the pdf file on my website, and
edited. ~~~

Aspect Ratio (AR) is how the diameter of wire in millimeters relates
to the internal diameter of the ring.

AR= internal diameter/ diameter (mm)

If I am making a Byzantine chain and the AR is 3.5 then I know I can
figure out what the inner diameter is for any wire gauge size I want
to use. This allows me the flexibility to change wire gauges and make
heavier or more delicate chains. so to make a Byzantine in various
gauges

3.5 = x/y where x is the diameter (ID) of the ring and y is the
diameter of the wire or 3.5 = ID/diameter

Rearrange the equation

AR*y=(x/y)*y (to cancel the y from the right side of the equation)

AR*y =x (and substitute 3.5 which is the aspect ratio for the
Byzantine)

3.5*y=x

or

AR(Diameter)= (ID/Diameter) Diameter
AR(Diameter)= ID

Ga AR* Diameter= ID (mm)
16 (1.3mm) 3.51.3= 4.55
18 (1.0 mm) 3.5
1.0= 3.5
20 (0.8 mm) 3.50.8= 2.8
22 (0.65 mm) 3.5
0.65= 2.275

I recommend rounding up to the next ring size that you have
available if the ID falls in between your mandrel sizes. However,
with the spring back in wire a 2.75 mm mandrel works well for 0.8 mm
round wire, and a 4.5 mm is perfect for 1.3 mm wire. Also keep in
mind that this equation is designed for round wire, round rings.
Square wire round rings need to be at least.25mm -0.5 mm larger than
the round wire round rings.

The.pdf file needs to be updated a bit but it is here if you want to
see http://www.chainweavers.com/aspectratio.pdf

Have a good day!
Michelle
Decolletage Jewels &
Chainweavers.com