We're just over a week away from GeekCraft Expo Midwest, our free, family-friendly handmade craft show at the Madison Masonic Center March 25 and 26! We've got tons of fantastic Wisconsin-area crafters bringing amazing pieces that will delight you--here's a preview from Seven Stars Chainmaille.
Lauren Sternad chatted with us to talk about her unique chainmaille jewelry, what she likes best about geek culture, and more!
GeekCraft Expo: Before I saw your chainmaille jewelry, I never knew it could be so colorful! Was that your vision from the start?
Seven Stars Chainmaille: When I first started making chainmaille I had no idea of the variety of colors or materials it was possible to use. I assumed that since I was working in metal I was pretty much limited to metallic colors. Then I discovered anodized aluminum, and I totally fell in love with the bright and colorful pieces I could make with it! I definitely felt like I found my niche in my craft.
GCE: How long have you been creating chainmaille jewelry?
SSC: I started learning the basics in my Art Metals class during my senior year of high school. I loved making other kinds of metal jewelry (soldered, cast, etc.) and since I was also interested in medieval history and fantasy, learning how to make chainmaille seemed like a great thing. And the great thing about chainmaille is that it doesn’t require a soldering torch or centrifugal casting machine, so I could continue making it in dorm rooms in college and apartments after that. It’s a lot of fun to create and it can also very relaxing to do, almost like knitting. I’ve been making chainmaille for over a decade now, and I’m still learning new weaves and improving my techniques.
GCE: What is the most challenging part of designing your pieces?
SSC: I find that figuring out which ring sizes and wire gauges work best with various weaves to be one of the trickier aspects of designing a piece. Some weaves need very specific aspect ratios to work, and others can be made in a wider variety of ring size and wire gauge combinations. All these combinations give the weaves a different look and feel. And then there’s figuring out the colors . . .
GCE: What’s your best seller?
SSC: My best seller is actually a Byzantine weave bracelet in gunmetal colored square aluminum rings. It looks like a fairly simple piece, but the angles of the wire and the particular shine and color make it subtly special. Or my keychains that look like little winged golden snitches, those are quite popular (and very cute!) as well.
GCE: What is your favorite part of geek culture?
SSC: I love the enthusiasm and excitement that I think is at the core of geek culture. No matter what it is you’re geeky about, whether it’s a show or book or science or sports. And we use that enthusiasm to make the world a better place in so many different ways.
GCE: What was your favorite part of last year’s GeekCraft Expo Midwest?
SSC: Last year’s GeekCraft Expo was actually my very first craft show, so I really loved being able to see customer’s reactions to my work. That’s something you miss when you only sell online. It was great to connect with customers and other sellers who are interested in the same geeky things as I am.
GCE: What types of pieces are you bringing to GeekCraft Expo Midwest this year?
SSC: I’m bringing a little of everything this year: keychain and bracelets, necklaces and pendents, and a few more elaborate and intricate pieces. I’ve got lots of fandom-inspired pieces including Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, and even a few sports teams. The great thing about chainmaille is it can span from the medieval to pop culture, so I’m bringing a bit of everything.
Our thanks to Lauren for answering all our questions! You can see her and many other awesome crafters at GeekCraft Expo Midwest: RSVP now. Plus, make sure to stop by our kick-off party March 24 at The Bodgery with beer, snacks, and prizes!