Friday, July 13, 2012

Wristwear of the Month: Chainmail

As a designer, I spend time searching for new materials and keep tabs on the pulse of wristwear.  As a consequence, I come across some pretty cool stuff occasionally. At Riceling, my main focus is design for men – a challenging task. In this series, I highlight the best designs of others that I think match the goals set here at Riceling.

The inaugural entry is Anne Shirley’s chainmaille bracelet for men.

Most of us probably think of think of medieval knights jousting, castles, and motes when we hear the word chainmail.  Of course that’s expected; mail has probably been used most as armor.  But there are modern applications for the techniques of mailsmithing – one is the byzantine weave chain.  Most of us don’t fight using swards or dive with sharks, but that shouldn’t stop us from investing in some quality chainmail.

There are several specific, yet subtle, things that make this bracelet especially masculine: finish, material, manufacturing technique, and fastener.

Anne uses liver of sulfur to achieve a fabulous dark brown patina on the copper.  As it wears, in a few weeks it will look like something you’ve been wearing all your life.  That’s important, because most men like things that are casual, and things that look natural. The finish on the copper completes this look.

Copper itself is a working metal.  It’s relatively inexpensive, and it is hard to maintain in a lustrous finish.  The patina mentioned above would naturally occur given enough time.  All that means it is not associated with fancy jewelry. But that’s good in this case because this bracelet is meant to look worn, and it is meant to be worn… all the time. I mean why not? it’s indestructible.  Of course, if you must, you can order it in sterling silver (that might actually be pretty cool). But you better have money, and lots of it!

Anne has used a manufacturing technique that is timeless: forging.  Imagine a brawny cave man pounding on a red hot piece of metal.  Ok… that’s probably not what’s going on in Anne’s studio, but the technique is very similar.  She has hammered the metal by hand to give it that rustic look. This looks like you purchased it on the muddy streets of some prehistoric city. Yeah, that’s what a man would wear.

The hand-forged toggle/clasp is also timeless.  Before cool new technology like zippers and snaps, people used buttons.  This is essentially the same thing – ancient, simple, and awesome.

So, this piece of man jewelry is perfect because you can wear it on the trail, in the gym, or at a nice restaurant in your suit. It just shows there’s a bit of ancient adventurer in each of us.

If you feel extra tough she also makes a couple heavier versions.


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