Islay's chain maille in pieces as she continues to work on a steel-ringed vest.

Islay is the Fraser Valley MakerSpace’s resident chain maille maker. She’s worked on some incredible pieces, but her latest project has probably caught the eye of more than one patron of the ‘Space. We’ve all become mesmerized by her technique and patience for working through a project for a former colleague. Islay’s chain maille jewelry seems like a walk in the park compared to the amor she’s been working for the last few months, or at least since late February.

Islay’s chain maille has inspired a few new projects by other makers, but months of hard work is finally paying off as the steel suit of armor is coming together. Mere construction of the collar has taken over 100 man hours, broken up into two hour stints.

Jason, modeling the beginning of Islay's chain maille armor suit

The collar alone has taken almost a month an a half, but steel rings are much harder to work with as the material is more rigid than

other popular chain maille materials. Her poor hands are tired at the end, but the satisfaction of seeing this project come to life has been worth it.

According to Islay, while “aluminum does allow for increased creativity” because of the material’s flexible nature, steel has allowed for a “holly crap, I made this” feeling that is not easily replicated. Her advice to anyone attempting a similar project is patience because constructing anything from steel rings takes dedication and commitment to the final product.

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There have been many moments she’s questioned why she chose steel, but is reminded of the beauty of the suit when she lays the pieces out together. There are a lot of sore hands in between too, so bandaids might also be a good idea for anyone attempting such a project.

Islay’s chain maille has inspired other makers to learn more about chain maille and what it takes to learn the basics. These flowers were made by a complete novice who has no experience making jewelry of any kind. Islay’s a pretty darn good teacher and she’s incredibly patient, too!