Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Unconventional Chain Mail Jewelry

What I love most about Unconventional Chain Mail Jewelry by Laura Poplin is that it is different than any other chainmaille book I have seen in a long time. Or perhaps ever. Poplin takes five basic weaves and constructs the weaves in new and unusual ways, combining with metal and/or leather. This means her chainmaille looks nothing like anybody else's. This gets my wheels turning on how I can do the same thing with different weaves, or using materials and shapes that I prefer to work with. It's actually very exciting. So while this book teaches specific projects, it also increases the creative thought process and to think outside the box with chainmaille. I can hardly wait to try adding metal bits to my maille.

The nuts and bolts: The first 30 pages or so are dedicated to "the basics": chainmaille basics, metalwork basics, wirework and beading basics, and leatherwork basics. I am actually tempted to go out and buy what I need to try my hand at dying leather using the simple instructions included here.

The next 70 or so pages contain 21 projects using the Euro 4-in-1, the "Oops" (which I've never heard of before), Byzantine, Chrysanthemum, and Japanese weaves. Personally, I love about half the projects. A few were so so. And some I really just don't care for. However, that is a personal aesthetics thing. I like my chainmaille to look structural and to keep its shape. Some of these projects the chainmaille hangs kind of floppy looking so you can barely see what the weave looks like and that doesn't appeal to me...mainly because if I am going to do the work involved with weaving 100's of jump rings, I want to see that work. If it's hanging all floppy like, might as well use regular chain.

Photos are gorgeous and easy to see the steps.

Editing Pet peeve: It really annoys me when the term chain mail is used and not chainmaille. Chain mail is that annoying letter people send on to 8 of their friends for fear something horrible will happen if they break the chain. Based on the consistency to use "chain mail" in the books I've received from Kalmbach over the last couple years, it's probably an editorial decision.

Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Kalmbach for my review. No other goods or fees were received. The opinion expressed is my own honest opinion.

-Jen Cameron
Glass Addictions


  1. Thanks for the review! I agree with you about the Chain Mail reference. As a former English teacher I just cannot buy a book that has that glaring error on the cover! But I do like the pretty necklace on the front which makes it worth looking into. Enjoy the day. Erin

  2. Argh no! That's just plain wrong...mail is mail and maille is something else altogether! That said I like the premise of this book - I've only done a little 'chain maille' myself and usually make it quite chunky and incorporate beads for interest. I don't buy many project books but might have a look at this as the basics would be useful. Thanks for the review Jen.

  3. In the UK, chainmail is armour :)
    The other thing is chain letters.

    Also, a quote
    "Chainmail vs Chain Mail vs Chain Maille
    The name comes from the French word maille, derived from the Latin macula, which means mesh of net. The most common spelling for the chain is chain mail, but sheets are still referred to as maille. Many artists feel that the spelling chain maille or simply maille (even though it is a modern name for it) is truer to the origins of the art and helps distinguish it from chain mail letters. Some believe that since mail or maille literally means a sheet of chain adding chain to the word is redundant. All variations are basically accepted as a matter of common usage."

  4. I agree with all the comments re the spelling transgression, but then being Canadian I am constantly being told that I've spelt things wrong, when the are actually correct! Kalmbach should have their knuckles rapped!

    THe picture on the front cover is very pretty... I wonder if it would actually hang properly?

    Thanks for the review!

  5. I saw this book some time ago, and the spelling error also bothered me.
    Sad that there is increasing disregard for proper word usage. Shame on you Kalmbach (and the author)!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.