Victoria Lansford

 

 

Chains

Many years ago, when I first started selling my work, I began describing it as "completely handwrought," but then one day I looked at the typical, commercial, machine made chains I'd bought for my pendants and realized I was not being true to my vision. These handwrought chains are labors of love, my meditations in action, but well worth all the effort.

Ancient Mediterranean Chain Patterns

The first chains I learned to make are often called Roman, loop in loop or foxtail chains, although ancient Egyptians, Sumerians and Etruscans made loop in loop chains first, to be followed by the Greeks. For some unknown reason, the Romans got credit. In these ancient methods, each individual link is fused and formed from fine silver (99.9% pure silver) or 22K gold and then woven together. A bracelet of the most basic pattern may have as few as 25 links, a complex necklace as many as 900. Pictured below are the patterns I use most often.

1-Direction Single-Weave

1-Direction Double-Weave 2-Directional Double-Weave 3-Directional Single-Weave

 

Original Chain Patterns, Including Cross Link, Vertebrate, Undulating Mesh, and Side Weave Mesh Patterns

Back in 1997, I began experimenting with my own chain patterns. I've created several, but my most favorite are the Vertebrate and the Side Weave Mesh. Both were inspired by the traditional Roman Side Weave. I wanted to create the look of that pattern in a more three dimensional and mesh (think chain maille) designs. The Vertebrate pattern is formed without the use of any hand tools. The individual links look like larks head knots, and when woven together, create a raised braid on the top. I gave the pattern it's name because the back reminds me of inside shape of a spine. In creating the side weave mesh, I was trying to design a wide braid pattern, which seemed unsuccessful at first until I turned it over and found that what I intended to be the back was far more interesting.

Vertebrate Undulating Mesh Side Weave Mesh Cross Link

 

Woven (Crochet) Chains

These chains differ completely from the others in that they are woven from a continuous wire. They are sometimes called crochet chains but are actually knitted tubes. Around the time I first learned to do them, my mother had given me some tiny freshwater pearls. With no desire to set or string them, I got the idea to incorporate them into the body of the woven chains. I weave each loop and add each pearl (or occasionally gem bead) one at a time to create spiral patterns.

Silver Woven Chain (detail)
Gold Woven Chain (detail) Woven Necklace, Bracelet, & Earrings Woven Pearl Necklace

Metal Techniques of Bronze Age Masters: All Chained Up (in paperback)

All Chained Up, paperback

An instructional book of ancient original and Roman fused chains

This book from Victoria Lansford's internationally acclaimed instructional series provides clear and concise instructions for eight fused chain patterns, with endless variations. With more than 150 full-color process photographs, the easy to follow instructions will have even the novice metalsmith weaving and creating ancient and modern design chains. Over 50 photographs of artwork incorporating all of the chains will further inspire you to advance your own creations.

4 Ancient Mediterranean chain patterns 1-Direction Single-Weave 1-Direction Double-Weave 2-Directional Double-Weave 3-Directional Single-Weave 4 Contemporary chain patters, created by Victoria Lansford Undulating Mesh Vertebrate Side Weave Mesh Crossed Link Victoria's instructional series Metal Techniques of Bronze Age Masters, including Russian Filigree (DVD, 2006) and Rings (DVD, 2008) has sold throughout the world. The series is part of her continuing commitment to make the techniques of ancient artists accessible to modern metalsmiths.

 

Book excerpt 1Book excerpt 2Book excerpt 3

 

 

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©2014, Victoria Lansford

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