Meet Chainmaille Artisan Lisa Ellis

Founder Of The Armorer’s Wife & Creator Of Many Mesmerizing Chainmaille Designs

Disclosure: Some of the links to products below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps me create content like this for you, and I thank you for your support.

Every month in our Meet the Artist series, we chat with a different chainmaille artist to find out more about their process, inspiration and goals. We also try to uncover one or two things you might not know about the artist, even if you’re already familiar with their work.

In this edition, you’ll meet artist Lisa Ellis from Leander, Texas. I’ve always been in awe of her Moorish Rose creations, so excuse me while I fangirl for a few moments here and there. :-)

Enjoy, and please post your comments below!


headshot of Lisa Ellis, chainmaille artisan

Thanks for taking some time to chat with us, Lisa! When and why did you start making chainmaille?

Six years ago I went to my first renaissance faire, and it was there that I discovered chainmaille. I had only seen it in history books before, and I was just fascinated by it. I had to know how it was made. My first project was a Helm bracelet, and it was terrible! I wasn’t giving up, though. I knew already that chainmaille was for me. I liked how it looked and how it felt. I liked that it was hard for me, that it made me think. So I kept at it. I discovered the M.A.I.L. database. Woah! So much to learn! I keep challenging myself to learn new weaves, and I’ve discovered that I really, really love sheet patterns.

Black square of moorish rose with colorful diamond shaped inlay

When I think of your work, the first thing that pops into my head is Moorish Rose. How did you become so fascinated with this insane weave?

aluminum moorish rose basket with colorful moorish rose balls by lisa ellisIt‘s funny, because up until recently I’ve felt that my head pieces defined me more than the Moorish Rose. I guess that’s changing, especially if I can get my Moorish Rose inlay to work! (More about that in a few moments…)

I love Moorish Rose because it’s a sheet, it’s swirly, and it’s mesmerizing! And I like that by adding contractions it can be shaped into things like bowls and truncated dodecahedrons. I’m always looking for new ways to use it. My favorite Moorish Rose project so far has been a kind of helm/coif hybrid. It’s an unusual piece, but interesting I think.

Recently I’m discovering the vast opportunities for color manipulation in Moorish Rose, not just mobius to mobius, but within the mobiuses themselves. I’m very excited about the design possibilities.

What general advice would you give to someone who wants to learn Moorish Rose? Asking for a friend.

Be persistent. It’s a rare person who can pick it up on their first try. I’ve made a YouTube tutorial for Moorish Rose that may be helpful to you. I think seeing how the weave works in 3D is really useful. If that tutorial doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, try another. I’ve heard that Joshua Diliberto has a good one. The weave is so pretty, and so satisfying to make, your success will be worth the effort.

pink, purple, turquoise moorish rose cuff with black edging

OK, you’ve motivated me to give this weave another try! Confession: I gave it a go for a few hours, many years ago, created a spectacularly tangled pile of rings, and never picked it up again. 😂

What’s your favorite alternate name for Moorish Rose?

Haha! I know the popular name going around these days is butthole weave, but I think that name is far too undignified for such a lovely pattern. (Though it may seem entirely fitting when you are learning it.)

It is most certainly fitting. 😜

Colorful Moorish Rose Chainmaille Coasters and MugWhen I posted on Facebook that I was seeking questions for you, the accompanying photo showed your Moorish Rose coasters plus a chainmaille mug. So of course the burning question that just about everyone had: Is there a tutorial for the coasters?

I didn’t know people were interested in this, so not at the moment. I think maybe in July I can set about making one.

If you do create a tutorial, you’ll sell tons! Be sure to let me know and I’ll post to the Blue Buddha page on Facebook.

What inspires you?
Creative people of all types, whether their interests lie in art, science, architecture. The field doesn’t matter. It’s their enthusiasm, their willingness to take a chance with a new idea. Creative people encourage me to push myself, to think out of my box, and to be my best.

How do you come up with new designs? When you have an idea for a new design, do you pattern it out on paper first, or just dive in and make a design from there?
Oh, I just dive in. For example, I wanted to make a coif out of Hoodoo Hex. I’d never made a coif, had no idea how to make one, but I went for it anyway. I just started weaving. 17,000 rings later, I’d finished, and it’s now one of my favorite pieces.

aluminum Hoodoo Hex chainmail coif by Lisa Ellis on mannequinMy work pretty much always starts with me picking up my rings and playing. There’s one exception, and that’s the Infinity Rose. The idea for the base weave popped into my head while I was getting TENS therapy at my chiropractor’s office. It’s weird how that works.

copper chainmaille handflower with aluminum and green stone decoration

How many hours a day do you weave?

This varies a lot, depending on what I’m working on. When I’m really excited about something it can be 10-12 hours a day for weeks. Other times 4 or 5 hours. This Winter I took a three month break from weaving completely. I definitely wasn’t planning on quitting, I just needed to recharge. Now I’m in the super excited stage again. Once my latest orders of rings get here I anticipate some intense weaving.

rear view of chainmaille and pearl headpiece

 

What is your current goal?

OMG! I’m glad you asked. I’m planning a Moorish Rose inlay! I’ve chosen Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I think the movement of the weave could work nicely with the visual motion of the painting. It may be an impossible undertaking, but I’m going to give it my best shot. The finished inlay (if I can do it) will measure 33’ x 41,” and I expect to use almost 50,000 rings.

What is one tool that you cannot live without?

hand with tronex snub nose pliersNo doubt about it, it’s my Tronex snub nose pliers. I use them for almost every project. If I need to, for smaller work I’ll use a pair of Tronex oblique nose in my left hand, but the snub nose accomplish nearly everything I need. If I’m in a pinch for teensy work, I’ll use my Xuron chisel nose.

 

And….probably the most unusual question that has ever come inand, haha, I figure there’s an inside joke hereIf I wanted to buy a creepy mannequin, which store should I burn to the ground?

I suspect that Stephen secretly loves my mannequins. In fact, if any of you have any extra mannequins lying around, I suggest mailing them to him immediately!

Ha! 
moorish rose chainmaille coif by Lisa Ellis

OK, onto some quick questions: What do you do when you aren’t making chainmaille?

My husband and I love attending renaissance fairs. We’re lucky that we’ve got three within a couple hour drive of our home. This year we’ve started camping out, and are loving meeting some of the other rennies.

We love to travel too. Now that our kids are grown, we’re trying to check some items off of our bucket list. So far we’ve been to the United Kingdom and Greece. This year we’re headed to the Baltics. I’m so very grateful we have this opportunity.

My guilty (not so guilty) pleasure is RPG video games. Mass Effect, Skyrim and Arc are my favorites.

colorful Infinity Rose Fidget toy and bracelets in chainmaille moorish rose basket

Do you listen to music/podcasts/tv/etc while mailling? If so, what are your favorites?

I know it sounds boring, but usually I have the news running quietly in the background, but sometimes I put in a movie. I love, love, love really bad Sci-Fi movies. Tremors and Mega Pirahna are two of my favorites.3D chainmaille shapes

What are your favorite artists/artisans (chainmaille or otherwise)

?

My father will always be my favorite artist. I loved his wood sculptures best, and as a kid I would watch him work for hours. He also painted and sketched, and he had some mad airbrush skills. I’m sure we were the only family in Pennsylvania with a full rendition of the Battlestar Galactica gracing the side of their Blazer!

Some of my favorite chainmaille artists are Simon Menz, Kirk Nelson (Brilliant Twisted Skulls), Tony Moeller, Nathan Asselin, Deborah Wilson Taylor, Daniel J G Miller, Kristina Griffin, Stephen Hoffman, Joshua Diliberto…. I could add so many more.

 

What would your superpower be and why?

The power to heal people. I hate to see people suffering.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?



It may not be the best piece of advice, but my favorite is when my Dad used to tell me “just don’t get caught” with a smile on his face when I was a teen. ROFL!

aluminum necklace with colorful stones in What's Up Buttercup weave by Lisa Ellis
What’s one thing Blue Buddha readers might be surprised to know about you?




I met my husband in the mosh pit at a Violent Femmes concert! I can’t believe it’s been 33 years. I love him so much.

Anything else?

I’d just like to say how grateful I am to be a part of the chainmaille community. Chainmaille people are just about the nicest people I’ve ever met. Thank you, Rebeca, for the opportunity to share a little about myself. You are an inspiration to me, and one of my idols. I think the first chainmaille book I ever bought was one of yours, so I have much to thank you for.

Awww, that’s so kind of you to say. I am equally in awe of your work!

Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your chainmaille.
Etsy shop with finished jewelry: TheArmorersWife
Moorish Rose project on Facebook: Lisa Ellis Starry Night Chainmaille Project
Tutorials: Lisa Ellis: Chainmaille Tutorials by The Armorer’s Wife
Instagram: @thearmorerswife
YouTube: Lisa Ellis

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Lisa! We wish you much continued success and we are soooo excited to see how your Starry Night Chainmaille project turns out!

And thank you to everyone who’s read this interview to the end. While you’re here, be sure to check out the previous “Meet an Artist” posts: http://www.bluebuddhaboutique.com/blog/category/ask-an-artist-series/ and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed. ‘Til next time, happy weaving!

Meet Chainmaille Artist Tony Moeller

Chain Mail Inlay Artisan From Georgia

I’m happy to revive our Meet the Artist series, in which Blue Buddha Boutique chats with chainmaille artists to find out more about their process, inspiration and goals. We also try to uncover one or two things you might not know about the artist, even if you’re already familiar with their work.

In this edition, you’ll meet Tony Moeller of Conyers, Georgia. I was excited to chat with him because for a long time, way in the back of my head, I’d envisioned making a chainmaille portrait inlay since it wasn’t something I’d often seen. But I always got overwhelmed just thinking about it. And right when I started to seriously think about tackling such a project, I came across Tony’s work. My jaw dropped and I threw in the towel–literally: I had a hand towel hanging over my shoulder and I threw it to the floor in amazement! Here was someone who was prolifically making portrait inlays, and impressive ones at that. So, maybe someday I’ll follow the tips he outlines below and will tackle my own inlay…but for now, I’m content to drool over his amazing work, and I hope you like it too. 😊

Enjoy, and please post your comments below!

artist tony moeller holding framed chainmaille tiger inlay

 

Thanks for taking some time to chat with us, Tony! Please tell us: what inspires you?

For the most part, I love everything pop culture related so a lot of my pieces have something to do with that, but recently I’ve been wanting to explore more things from nature. I love colors, all of them so I love finding an image that takes advantage of that.

cherry blossom tree in bloom made of chainmaille
What has been your biggest accomplishment?

The fact that someone living on another continent, whom I’ve never met in person, owns one of my portraits is just staggering to me. When I first started I was just hoping people would like them, I never expected anyone to really want to buy any of my pieces and to then sell one overseas… wow! I was not really prepared for that.

Speaking of when you first started — when and why did you start making chainmaille?
It’s sort of a long story. A couple of years ago I was in the dealer’s room at Dragon*Con (a huge sci-fi/pop culture convention in Atlanta) and I came upon a vendor that was selling these incredibly beautiful rings and was even making them into jewelry and I knew I wanted to do something with that! I was going to originally make full sized cosplay outfits using chainmaille and sell them but then I remembered I had no clue what I was doing…

sonic the hedgehog in chainmailleI couldn’t get the idea of the cosplay outfit out of my head but it was going to be too much of an investment without a real guarantee that I would even have any way of selling them at all. A coworker suggested making something small, like a pendant for a necklace and I loved this idea! I asked what his favorite character was and he immediately said Sonic the Hedgehog. I figured I’d just make Sonic to start and give it to him as a thank you for the idea. Boom! Easy! Done!  Well, first I had to learn how to … you know… make chainmaille. Anyway, I studied Sonic and realized that there weren’t that many colors so I could order only what I needed and go from there. I’ve always been pretty good with using Perler Beads so I made a quick pattern and honestly just assumed it work as an analogue for the rings on a one to one ratio. I started with Euro 4 in 1 and while you can see the image, it wasn’t really what I was hoping for. After that I changed to E6-1 and haven’t done anything else since.

Now that you’ve been making chainmaille for a while, what is one tool that you cannot live without?
Here is a picture of my pliers… I just get the cheapest ones available from TRL. Since I only use 18swg 1/4″ aluminum rings, I don’t need any of the heavier duty pliers. But I did try to open and close them by hand and after about the 15th or 16th ring life sort of sucked. Not recommended…red pliers on a cat with a chainmaille project in the background



Wait, tell me about the cat!
That is Calliope. She doesn’t always come in and sit with me while I’m working but she is just gorgeous and will happily help my legs fall asleep anytime I’m willing to let her sit on them.

How do you get all the different variations of color for your work? I’m assuming you are using anodized aluminum, but if not, what metal are you using?
johnny depp chainmaille inly by tony moellerThis is one of the biggest challenges with using the rings as a medium for art. I have 22 colors. I can’t mix them to create different shades. Want to make a portrait? There are only 3 shades of brown. Most of my portraits use only 5 colors: silver (bright aluminum), champagne, light brown (saw cut bronze from The Ring Lord, aka TRL), dark brown (machine cut bronze from TRL, there is a difference in color), and black. That’s it. I’ve just learned some tricks about utilizing some light pink or pale yellow (my FAVORITE color from TRL) and blending them in with the browns to create what appears to be a new color. It has to do with how close they are to each other and your brain interpreting the image. I got lucky when I made the Johnny Depp portrait and found out that it works since that one had a lot of already blended sections in the pattern I was using (I pixelated an image in Microsoft Paint and it just worked out that way). While it isn’t necessarily a secret, I don’t tend to showcase what I’m doing so that I can keep it all for myself for as long possible. 😉

How do you decide how many colors to use? For example, if you take a picture and zoom in to see the pixels, there will be way more colors than are available in rings. So how do you narrow down how many colors to use?
I try to stick to the original as much as I can, but I will make some color change decisions on the fly. Most of the time I only work it out as I go because I don’t always know if I’ll want it to be a lighter color or a darker color until I see it next to the area I’m working on. It just comes down to what I think of as my artistic license. There are definitely times when I have a ton of colors out and I’m using almost all of them. Just use your best judgement. There really doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong to it, just do what you like.

couple-in-chainmailleAny particular suppliers you like because of the large selection of colors?
The Ring Lord is where I get the bulk of my various colors but I do use Chainmail Joe for my red, black, and silver (bright aluminum). I tend to use more of those colors and he has them in half pound sizes for an amazing price. But I will buy from any supplier if it’s a new color to add to my extremely limited palette.

What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?



I struggled for the longest time with circles. They seem like they shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but every time I made something circular, it came out egg shaped when hanging. It took about a year for me to find the right formula because I ran across a Batman logo shirt that was made to look pijokerxelated. I thought that it might be pretty close to what I needed and used that as a guide and it worked! Perfect circle! I only had to make a small tweak to it to make it look just right but without that I might still be struggling with it.

 What is your current goal?
 I would love to do this for a living. Buy more stuff! 😃

What general advice would you give to someone who wants to make an inlay?
Think in 8-bit! It’s basically an 8-bit imagery system so use that. Perler beads, pixelated images, cross-stitch patterns all work perfectly for this. I’m always available for questions as well. I’ve had many people ask for my advice or even specific questions and I’ve tried to do my best at helping them. I love seeing the final inlays when I was able to help out a little bit. It inspires me to want to do more as well.
Ha! I may take you up on that! 😈 I’m impressed that you can create such recognizable images using so few jump rings (I mean, relatively speaking, of course. You manage to create detail without resorting to micromaille and tens upon tens of thousands of rings.). The POW/MIA flag is one of my favorites, and a great example of what I mean:
veteran holding POW MIA art made of chainmaille


OK, onto some quick questions: What do you do when you aren’t making chainmaille?
I am the warehouse manager at Starbase Atlanta, a geeky online store. I’m also a “father” of 4 dogs, 5 cats, and 5 rabbits (plus 2 rescue rabbits currently) and a husband.

OMG, so many animals! 🐶🐶🐶🐶🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐰🐰🐰🐰🐰🐇🐇 I loooove it! 😍

Do you listen to music/podcasts/tv/etc while mailling? If so, what are your favorites?
Mostly I will watch something on Netflix since I do all of my mailling at my computer desk. When I do listen to music instead it will almost always be something by either Pearl Jam, Snow Patrol, or Barenaked Ladies.

What are your favorite artists/artisans (chainmaille or otherwise)

?
Chainmaille: August Grappin has made some beautiful pieces, anything by Steampunk Garage, and I am generally in awe of anyone that does micromaille in any form.Non maille: Jasmine Becket-Griffith is the most talented painter I have ever seen!
What would your superpower be and why?
I would want it to be instant teleportation so I don’t have to drive everywhere. Or, 30 more minutes of sleep everyday? Sign me up!
tesla-in-chainmail



What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?


Don’t give up on your dreams. They may not seem attainable right now, but if you work towards them everyday, one day they will be.

What’s one thing Blue Buddha readers might be surprised to know about you?



Um… I dunno. I can sing? I guess that can be a surprise? I was in choir from 2nd grade on through all of high school. Also, I clearly am not good with ad-libs?

starry night chainmaille inlay by tony moeller

Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your work!
Most of my work can be bought from:
Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TonysRingArt
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Tonys-Ring-Art-1526837590897431/
Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2405242
Or you can contact me directly through Facebook.
Thanks so much for the questions!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Tony! We wish you much continued success.

While you’re here, be sure to check out previous “Meet an Artist” posts: http://www.bluebuddhaboutique.com/blog/category/ask-an-artist-series/

Eye Exercises to Relieve Eye Strain and Fatigue

Protect yer peepers from Computer Vision Syndrome (and from too much crafting)!

Recently I’ve seen several articles about Computer Vision Syndrome: eye and vision problems resulting from long time periods spent staring at a computer, mobile phone, tablet, e-reader and other digital screens.

closeup brown eyes with minimal makeupThough in my case–and possibly yours–the C may as well stand for Crafting! I’m sort of joking, because looking at a flat, back-lit screen is different from looking at hands moving around using tools. But I’m not joking when I admit that I have an easier time turning off social media and putting away my phone/computer than I do trying to stop weaving when I’m in the middle of a project. (“Hello, my name is Rebeca and I’m a chainmaille addict…”)

Symptoms of CVS include eye fatigue, blurred vision, neck pain, headaches and more. Those symptoms are similar to what happens if I craft without stopping to take care of my eyes and upper body. With CVS, lack of adequate sleep (due to staring at a digital screen into the late evening hours) leaves the eye muscles unable to recover from strain. Hmm, that also sounds familiar, because I’m probably not the only chainmailler who’s stayed up just a little too late, trying to finish “one more ring … oh, well, actually just one more row…OK, now it’s just one more row … ”

The American Optometric Association’s website lists tips for protecting your eyes and treating Computer Vision Syndrome. Do check it out.

If you have eye strain, whether it is more due to crafting or the digital screen (or, most likely a combination of both!), remember to check out the Blue Buddha video on eye yoga. These are real techniques for strengthening and relaxing your eye muscles. These tips are great for crafters who experience eye strain or worsening vision, and great preventative exercises to keep your eyes healthy and strong as long as possible. Have you tried eye yoga? Let me know in the comments!

Ask An Artist Returns! Submit your Questions for Tony Moeller

This chainmaille artisan is a prolific portrait maker, and here’s your chance to ask him about his work!

artist tony moeller holding framed chainmaille tiger inlayTime to meet another fantastic chainmaille artist who has agreed to let us pick their brain for our “Ask an Artist” blog series!

Tony Moeller is an incredibly talented artist in Georgia. He’s captivated me with his gift for making portrait inlays out of chainmaille. Yep, each of the lovely pieces of artwork you see here is made one ring at a time!  See some of his work below, and let me know what sorts of questions you’d love to ask him.

 

starry night chainmaille inlay by tony moeller cherry blossom inlay made of chainmaille chainmaille inlay of happy couple

While many of his art pieces are about 8-12 inches across, he also creates plenty of smaller pieces:

veteran holding POW MIA art made of chainmaille
And, Tony is no stranger to a furry supervisor who likes to be close to the action!

red pliers on a cat with a chainmaille project in the background

It’s your turn to pick Tony’s brain. Submit your questions from now until Friday, April 13th! Here’s how to get your question to Tony:

1. Write it in the comments section at the end of this blog entry
2. Post it to our wall on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BlueBuddhaBoutique
3. Email it to [email protected]

 

heath ledger as the joker made out of chainmailleConnect with Tony:

Facebook page: Tony’s Ring Art
Patreon: Tony Moeller
Etsy Shop: TonysRingArt

National Craft Month Giveaway – Around the World With 80 Artists

Enter For Your Chance To Win This Book Of DIY Projects From Around The Globe

UPDATE April 1 – Congratulations, Breanna O of IL – you won! Thank you everyone who entered; I really enjoyed reading all of your responses. :-)

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions expressed are my own.

Around The World With 80 Artists header over watercolor map of earthAround the World With 80 Artists by Mahe Zehra HusainMarch is National Craft Month! To celebrate, I’m giving away a stunning crafts book featuring dozens upon dozens of step-by-step crafts projects to get your creative juices flowing. Eighty artists from 22 different countries contributed to Around The World With 80 Artists: DIY Projects From Around The Globe. The 220-page book features a huge variety of projects: coloring pages, mandala making, watercolor techniques, origami, mixed media, monoprinting and more! You’ll even find a few of the artists’ favorite recipes scattered throughout the book.

The book was created by Mahe Zehra Husain. She writes, “This book was compiled at a time when narratives of hate, intolerance and destruction pervade the airwaves. Even minor differences have acquired the power to ignite raging fires, and far too many people have become distrustful of anything they find unfamiliar. Around the World with 80 Artists is a message of hope in these testing times, a testament to the richness and strength that lies in diversity… [This book is] an exuberant celebration of creativity – in all the various forms and styles it adopts around the globe.”

around-the-world-various-projectsTwenty percent of the proceeds go to The Malala Fund to help educate girls who might not otherwise have a chance at an education.

The colorful table of contents showcases all the projects in this book:

Table of Contents for Around the World With 80 Artists - DIY Crafts ProjectsYou can purchase your copy of Around the World with 80 Artists on Amazon or directly from the author from her website MZCreates.

Visit MZCreates.com/around-the-world for free downloads of templates and printables from the book.

For Your Chance To Win

As I was one of the first people to help crowdfund this book, I received 2 copies. I’m keeping one copy to enjoy with my mom, and giving the other to a lucky Blue Buddha fan!

Two ways to win:

1 – Leave a comment on this blog post by Friday, March 30. I’d love to get to know you better, so tell me something about yourself! If you’re a chainmailler, I’d love to know your favorite weaves or how you got started. If you do other crafts – what do you make? What are your favorite colors? Why do you craft? Essentially, just tell me something crafts/chainmaille related about yourself! :-)

2 – For a BONUS chance to win: If you purchase anything in the Blue Buddha Boutique Etsy shop from now until Friday, March 30, write “Around the World” in the message to seller section when you checkout, and I’ll add an entry in your name.

Good luck!

Rules & fine print:

1 – You must be 18 or older to enter.

2 – The book can be shipped within the US, all territories included. (If you’re in another country, you can still enter if you have a US address the book can be shipped to, or if you’re willing to pay for 100% of all associated shipping/customs/duties costs to get the book to your country.)

3 – Everyone has 1 or 2 chances to win (depending on if you comment on the blog, or make a purchase with a comment on Etsy, or both). Note to tricksters: Even if you write lots of separate comments, or place multiple Etsy orders for single PDFs and include the message to seller each time – only ONE of each of those will count. Nice try, though. 😉

4 – Be sure to double-check your email address, as that is the method by which I’ll contact the winner! (And then remember to check that email. The notification will come from [email protected])

5 – Contest ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, Friday March 30, 2018. Entries received after that time are ineligible to win.

6 – Winner will be randomly selected on Saturday, March 31, 2018 and notified by end of day Monday, April 2. If winner does not respond by Friday, April 6, winner forfeits the prize and another winner will be selected on Saturday, April 7.