It all began with a client named Robin. She found my jewelry early on through my website and purchased a few things from me. Due to health and pregnancy issues, I spent a long time not working very hard on my online business. When I was ready to come back at it full-steam again, I emailed Robin and was thrilled to find that she remembered my jewelry. Then she reminded me of something I'd started working on years earlier -- a request of Robin's for a chain maille purse.
An evening bag really, nothing huge. Unlike the jewelry I created, which is mostly sterling silver, this purse was made of bright aluminum rings. Woven of European 4-in-1, in 18 gauge rings that are my Size 3's. Frankly, it is about as tight a weave as you can go with Euro 4-in-1. I pulled that old project out and looked at it. In the box was about 3" of the body of the purse already woven, as well as several pictures I'd drawn (badly) of the basic idea. I was instantly inspired to pick it up and work on it, so I did.
Robin and I email often back and forth -- she's a great lady with a fabulous personality. I often laugh while reading her emails. We emailed back and forth diligently as I hunted down the rest of the wire I would need, coiled and cut it, then began weaving again. In the next two weeks, I would learn to make brackets out of brass wire to hang the sheet from my lamp. I would learn to spend an entire night coiling, then cutting rings rather than doing it in small batches. I would learn to sit for two hours straight, doing nothing but opening rings. I would learn that a chain maille purse, even one woven in aluminum rings, is HEAVY! I blew through two belts on my tumbler before realizing I needed a larger capacity model.
The more I wove, the happier I became. The purse was just beautiful. Once I'd finished the main body of the purse, the sheet went into the tumbler. I hunted down more wire, coiled and cut it into rings for the strap, which is 38" of double rope in my size 9 rings. Once that was finished, the strap had to tumble for a day or two before I put the whole thing together. Figuring out how to join the sides and strap together was a learning experience, to say the least.
Then it was done and I could lay it on the table and look at it. No, I'd definitely never seen anything like it before. I was so proud that I'd made it with my own two hands out of nothing but bright aluminum wire.
The funny thing is that during the process, I posted progress pictures of the purse online on my Facebook page. Almost immediately, I was getting emails and messages asking how to get "one of those purses." It had never even occurred to me that I would make more than one purse, but the orders started to happen and I wasn't even finished with the first! Chain maille purses, who knew?
Robin loves her purse. My husband says that if she ever gets in trouble while wearing the purse, she will only need to swing it by the strap to knock someone out cold. (Did I mention it's heavy?) Nothing makes me happier than knowing that Robin will forever be the owner of Maille Bag #001. Her one little request has changed my business, in a wonderful way, forever. Thank you Robin, for everything!