Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seller Spotlight: Maille Mystique | The Fashion Dungjen

The first time I head of chainmaille I spent at least 15 minutes looking at the word, trying to figure out what it meant and how the heck you pronounce it. Though I’m not sure I pronounce it correctly yet, I at least know what it is.

Chainmaille is the art of weaving and linking jump rings together. The actual process and art of chainmaille dates back to medieval times when it was used for armor; now it’s used by jewelry designers to create fabulous earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Lucky for us, one of those artists happens to be pretty close.

Debra Dale, a Northern Kentucky-based jewelry designer, set up her, Maille Mystique, store in 2006 and again in 2007 after taking a break from online.

Debra has been a business woman for many years; she earned a bulk of her experience as co-owner of a doll business with her best friend. After 10 years of dolls, the company downsized and Debra was forced to learn a new trade.

It was as simple as an Internet search that she learned of her next great love: chainmaille.

From there, she says, the rest is history.

“I taught chainmaille for a bit at a bead store in the area but gave up after I discovered teaching was not my forte,” Debra said.

Drawing inspiration from online tutorials and designer forums, she finds patterns or a design she believes are aesthetically pleasing and puts her own personality into the work by tweaking the design.

What is most surprising is the science behind chainmaille design and construction.

“Everything in chainmaille is about AR – or Aspect Ratio,” Debra said. “Every weave has an ‘OK’ aspect ratio, a ‘will not work’ aspect ratio and a ‘perfect’ aspect ratio. That’s what I like to work on finding. It is figured by the diameter of the wire and the inner diameter of the ring.”

Finding the perfect aspect ratio is imperative for a durable piece of jewelry. Without it, the pieces are highly susceptible to breaking due to a lack of movement and flexibility.

To find Debra’s pieces you’ll have to venture to her site.

“I was offered a place to sell my jewelry here but they were interested more in “assembly line” type selling and that isn’t my idea of quality or enjoyment,” Debra said. “I do what I do because I love it.”

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