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Loop-in-Loop Chains
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Word count/read time: 731 words; 3 minutes

Here is my webpage for loop-in-loop products.

HISTORY - Also called Roman Chain, Etruscan, Foxtail, and more, many cultures have made them since the inception of civilization. Predating chainmaille and Viking Knits by thousands of years, they are pretty much the oldest jewelry chains. The intricate construction makes it hard to believe they're handmade.

CLASSIFICATION - They are classified by the number of sides, referring to how many directions the links orient themselves, and how many loops, meaning how many previous links each new link passes through. It gives rise to one-sided single loop (1S-1L) and four-sided quintuple loop (4S-5L). Going higher than four sides or loops creates a HUGE cross-section as it turns into a rigid structure that is difficult to finish off.

PROCESS - It starts with saw-cut rings that are welded/soldered closed. They are elongated into rounded rectangles, squeezed in the middle like a bowtie, and bent into a modified 'U' shape. They are inserted into the chain, wrangled into place, pulled tight, and trued. All this forging makes them incredibly strong. Picks, spreaders, jigs, mandrels, magnifiers, a vulgar appreciation for jumbo micromaille, and asinine aspect ratios are typical fare. They are the most labor-intensive chains, exponentially slower than chainmaille.

WEAVES - Exquisite. Distinctive. Elegant. Most can be woven multiple ways for different looks and behaviors. Chains can be fluid enough to flow like liquid silk or rigid enough to be used as sculpture. There is a wide range of wire diameters and jump ring sizes. It produces something intriguing and fascinating. Viking Knit chains are sometimes mistaken for them. Loop-in-loops are more pleasing, symmetrical, and well-constructed but require advanced skills.

MATERIALS - This is jewelry so it's precious metals all the way! Fine silver is the premier choice. It is ductile, malleable, the shiniest metal, and quickly flame-fused in open air. Sterling silver is fine. Gold makes a stunning chain! Round wire is the most common. Square wire will restrict some movement though it has a more distinctive look.

PRECISION - Loop-in-loops are among the most difficult chains no matter what. The links are bent and shaped repeatedly before weaving so they have to be perfect clones during every step. Small errors compound quickly. Consistency becomes a huge concern because one errant link can deform an entire section. The weaver's skill is nowhere more visible than in a raw loop-in-loop chain.

Unfortunately, relying on a piece of equipment and a healthy dose of luck is asking for trouble.
It has to be flawless everything to start with. There is no "organic" weave whose meandering, crooked nature is acclaimed as a desirable design element. Poor workmanship is not glorious. Without any way to ensure uniformity within a chain, will a chain made today look or act the same as one from a year ago? Consistency has never been so important.

DRAWPLATE - It is where the magic and misery happen, crushing and elongating the links. The drawplate will homogenize weaves somewhat, becoming smoother and more uniform as the strands squeeze together. Unfortunately, relying on a piece of equipment and a healthy dose of luck is asking for trouble.

A loop-in-loop can be woven in just about any desired style and appearance so it's best to avoid the iffiness of the drawplate altogether. Thus, a sloppy or loose weave is 100% by choice of the weaver. If you need a drawplate to fix your inconsistent and poorly made weaves then try Viking Knit chains instead.

I spend so much time ensuring all the links are consistent and well-made, bent and shaped with jigs to eliminate discrepancies, and placed meticulously and symmetrically in the weave that I cringe at the thought of all my hard work being undone or modified by a process I can't control. I have the final say how it looks, not a piece of wood with holes in it.

ENDCAPS & CLASPS - Traditional methods use a bulky, long sleeve that is inserted over the ends and soldered on or mechanically affixed. Some make their own, others buy them pre-made. I use jump rings and creative weaving for a low-profile clasp area with minimal "non-chain" sections. The nakedness is divine. Endcaps, however, are coming soon.

SUMMARY - These chains are worthy of any precious metal when done properly. Their only purpose is jewelry yet they make a sinisterly strong weave. It takes hours of precision labor for simple designs, days for advanced patterns. They are the apex chain with a staggering variety.

Posted by M: November 14, 2020

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