Roman-style chain for a Knight

Goal: Make a chain for my friend, Sir Istvan, that has that bulky An Tir look but without neck-crippling weight.

His face immediately after being presented with the finished chain. I guess he liked it because he put it on with his old one! 🙂

Inspiration: Roman loop-in-loop chains

Earrings, 2-3rd century, gold and garnet, Christie’s, Sale 2770, Lot 5628146.

Note this is a DOUBLED loop-in-loop. Each link goes through two below it instead of one.  I considered this style, but it would have been more than twice as heavy, since I would have needed longer links. I used 12 gauge brass wire.

Right: Chain for a small oil lamp. I took this photo at the traveling Pompeii exhibit (chain made 79 CE or earlier) when it was in Seattle.

This simple SINGLE version is made by

  • Making a jig (two nails in a tabletop) and bending wire around it in a coil.
  • Cutting the coil to create identical rings.
  • Soldering the links. The join needs to be very strong to withstand the bending in the next step.
  • Bending into horseshoe shape.
  • Linking the individual loops.
  • Joining the ends of the chain.
  • Polishing.

I wanted a continuous chain, so I created the last connecting loop by bending the wire in place and soldering it closed. Note that meant I had to cut that link differently, so the join was accessible after the bend. I used a wet paper towel to protect the previous solder joins during this procedure. The last step was polishing.

Soldered links, not yet bent or polished.

What would I do differently: In a perfect world, I’d have used gold. The cost of gold (currently $1547/ounce) prevented that. Also, I would have liked my solders and polishing to be more perfect. I am bouncing between borrowed studios right now (thanks to Fjorlief and Cathyn for their generosity!), and using equipment I’m not familiar with added a layer of difficulty. I can clearly see the difference in the joins done with the different torches, and will probably remake this once I get my home studio completed. I’d love to use period methods, but lack the literal slave labor and time that makes that accessible.

About Sharon Rose, LAc, MSAOM

Acupuncturist, medical massage therapist, historian, scientist, road-tripper, geek, LARP & board gamer, food fan, Roman fanatic, belly-laugher.
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