GeekCraft Expo RDU will be here before you know it--make sure to RSVP for our geeky craft fair, at the Durham Armory May 14, so you can shop amazing handmade pieces like chainmaille from Split Infinity Jewelry!
We spoke with Split Infinity's Erin Hathaway about the challenges of chainmaille and what she's bringing with her this year--read on for the inside scoop now!
GeekCraft Expo: How did you get started making chainmaille jewelry?
Split Infinity Jewelry: I attended a local craft Meet Up called Jack's Crafts and a now-friend led a session on making a chainmaille bracelet. The bracelet was all in silver, but I loved the way the design came together. As I was leaving the session, I overheard someone say, "You know these rings come in a rainbow of colors, right?" and it was all over for me. Within six months I had a table at my first show, because I had reached a point where I either had to stop making (as I had more than I could wear or give away) or start selling.
GCE: One thing that fascinates me about chainmaille is you use the simplest shapes to make the most complex pieces. How do you come up with your designs?
SIJ: Most of these designs go back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. They have been used in armor and jewelry for centuries. In addition, chainmaille has a very active community of makers online (especially on Facebook) and people are constantly coming up with new patterns to share or sell. One of the newest trends has been capturing crystals within chainmaille, which adds an extra sparkle to an already shiny piece. I even dabble in creating a few patterns of my own, which is really just having an idea, trying it with one size ring, switching to another size ring, rinse, repeat, until everything comes together. Currently, I sell two pieces that are my own design: the Scalemaille purses (otherwise known as Dragon or Mermaid Purses) and my Captured D20 pieces.
GCE: Is there anything you’ve tried to make and failed?
SIJ: Oh, and how. In some ways, chainmaille is very much a puzzle with an exact fit. But the reality is, no matter how carefully I follow the directions and close up my rings, sometimes rings just won't fit the way I want them to. Different ring suppliers sometimes use very slightly different measurements that mean a piece won't be as fluid as it should be.
Sometimes I try to incorporate beads into my pieces and that "6mm" round bead can be 5.8mm or 6.2mm, which can mess up a design. My favorite failure is a pattern called Jens Pind Linkage (JPL), an elegant chain that looks relatively simple. I've tried it at least once a year for the last five years and it still just doesn't click with me. I also have many half-finished projects around the house that I "took a break" from because they were frustrating or the rings just didn't seem to fit (some of those breaks are going on years, but one day I'll get back to them).
GCE: What are your favorite pieces to make?
SIJ: I'm a magpie at heart, so I love the shiny pieces that incorporate Swarovski crystals. I also really enjoy making Dodecahedrons, these fun little balls of chainmaille wrapped around a bead that I use for keychains, pendants, Christmas ornaments, cat toys, etc.
GCE: How long does it take to make a simple bracelet?
SIJ: My simplest bracelets are either a simple 3-in-3 chain or Shaggy Loops. I can usually put one of those together in 20-30 minutes. The good thing is that the patterns are so simple, I can craft those while I'm binge watching Netflix.
GCE: What are your favorite geeky characters?
SIJ: I love Kanji (Persona 4), Garrus (Mass Effect), Croaker (Black Company novels), Louise (Bob's Burgers), Hawkgirl (JL/JLU animated series), and Anya (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
This is a short list and absolutely incomplete (and will continue to evolve). I should also note I have two cats named Fizzgig and Gizmo (whom I debated calling Falkor), so even my pets get caught up in my geekiness.
GCE: How did people react to your jewelry at last year’s GeekCraft Expo RDU?
SIJ: GeekCraft Expo was one of my all-time favorite shows I've ever participated in. The people embraced their fandoms and created a culture where everyone was free to geek out and share what they loved. It made me ridiculously happy. I had great sales and met some fantastic people and I was so pleased at the diversity of the geek community, both in the people and the fandoms they embrace.
GCE: Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ll be bringing this year?
SIJ: I have some fantastic new scale pieces with etchings of some geeky favorites (comics, Star Wars, Doctor Who). I have made a ton of dice pendants and keychains in a bunch of pretty colors. Plus, a lot of rainbow pieces, shiny pieces, and sparkly pieces. If there's anything in particular you are looking for, give me a shout at email@example.com before the show and I'll make sure I have it on hand.
Thank you to Erin for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Come see her in person May 14: RSVP now for our free, family friendly show!