Prolific Chainmaille Designer Has Discovered 100+ Patterns And Helps People All Over The World Learn To Make Maille

Meet Chainmaille Artisan Josh Diliberto And Find Out His Approach to Making New Designs

josh diliberto wearing handmade chainmaille vestScroll through the weave libraries of M.A.I.L. (Maille Artisans International League) and you’ll undoubtedly encounter many submissions from mithrilweaver: weave variation after weave variation, more than 100 weave submissions and 240+ gallery submissions in all. Josh is a well-known contributor to the Chain Maille group on Facebook and has fans and customers all over the world. I’ve received numerous requests to interview him, and I’m happy to bring you this article!

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

In this edition, you’ll meet artist, instructor and chainmaille supplier Josh Diliberto of McLean, Virginia. Enjoy!

moorish rose balls made of chainmailleThanks for taking some time to let us get to know you, Josh! First off – how do you pronounce your last name?

I pronounce my last name “dee-lee-bear-toe.” That is the Sicilian pronunciation. If you want to say it American, you would pronounce it just like it sounds.  It means “of the liberty” – Di-Liberto. Joshua in hebrew is pronounced “ee-yeshua” and means “savior.” So, put together, my fist and last name means “savior of the liberty.”  But… you can just call me Josh.

OK, Josh! How did you get into chainmaille?

I was inspired to try making chainmaille after watching the movie “Braveheart” in 1994. My mind loves patterns. After seeing chainmaille armor in that movie, I knew I had to try it. I’ve always enjoyed sewing and stitching and the idea of doing similar things with metal was just so appealing. (I think the first inspiration was at the age of 5 when doing paper ring 2-in-1 chain decorations for Christmas!)

I tried to make my first chainmaille item—a vest—in 1996 using nickel silver.  I wound the wire and cut it with a jeweler’s saw by hand. I wanted to use stainless, but I couldn’t cut it with the same hand saw.  I never liked the snipped or machine cut rings. My OCD has a hard time dealing with the look and feel of machine cut rings. The weave I used on my first vest was Japanese 4-in-1 Sheet.  I used 16swg 3/16″ rings.  Making this project put me into debt for the first time in my life at the age of 19.

When I was 20, I met a man named Michael DeVeny at the So-Cal Ren Faire. He was about 35 years old at the time and he really blew my mind. He probably had 50 weave samples on display and he had so many sculptures and designs to show me. I literally stayed at his booth for 4 hours talking to him. The amount of joy I got from that chance encounter was astounding and fueled my motivation throughout my career.

That’s terrific that you had an interaction like that to kickstart your chainmaille career. I’ve found that an inspirational experience when embarking upon a new path can really help someone persevere through future tough times.

Certainly. My 20’s were bleak for many reasons, mostly because I went from soul-sucking job to soul-sucking job.  All the while, I kept doing chainmaille on my own time as a hobby. I got into making chainmaille jewelry and made some new weaves at this time of my life (though no one knew about them). I worked alone, as in I didn’t meet with other chainmaillers. I had no mentor or teacher for 10 years. I sold some stuff to friends and family and at street market fairs, but never earned enough to live off of. I’m extremely introverted and I avoid most social events. The isolation led me to create new things instead of making already established weaves. The bad part was, I ended up remaking many weaves that were very common while thinking they were new. So, I remade the wheel hundreds of times. I wouldn’t say the time was wasted because it taught me how to make new weaves on my own and to appreciate the time spent. When someone figures something out on their own, there is an underlying value in how they came to learn. Not only is it leaned how to make the item, but the process by which the item is created is learned. The learning reward can be very large in some cases. In other cases, you spend days only leaning what not to do. Either way, there is learning.

I wholeheartedly agree! One of the first weaves I “made up” turned out to be Box, haha. But I still never forget how terrific it felt to discover it on my own.

So, what happened next in your chainmaille life?

In my 30’s I became a professional artist, quit my old day jobs, joined M.A.I.L., joined Facebook groups, and I became a merchant at Bristol Renaissance Faire. My venture into social media and being part of the chainmaille community has been very rewarding and positive. It added some balance to my life. I was too isolated in my 20’s to really make any kind of break through. I started to embrace the chainmaille hive mindset where we all inspire and feed off of each other’s creative energy. I’m convinced that I have created more quantity and quality work because I connected to others in our field. I try to have a very open and welcoming philosophy when it comes to intellectual property. I really don’t mind if people copy my work or make the same designs that I do. I give away free information often. In return, the chainmaille community has opened it’s arms to me. I feel very loved and secure in our community. It’s very special and important to me.

In my late 30’s and current early 40’s I ventured into selling supplies, tutorial, and kits. The main reason I wanted to get into these things was because I wanted to work from home. I no longer wanted to travel a lot doing renaissance fairs and selling only finished product. I was also concerned that my hands would someday give out and I would not be able to make chainmaille at high volumes anymore. The great thing about selling tutorials is that you only ever have to make the tutorial once and money continues to come in. Making tutorials doesn’t bring in huge money, but it’s a consistent flow that will always be there. The more tutorials I make, the more reward. I have about 45 tutorials for sale now.  Rings and kit sales bring in most of my income now. I don’t love making rings so much, but it keeps me active in the industry while I get to also stay home and help raise my daughter Karuna with my wife Brooke. Finish product sales to the public are still active and I also sell wholesale finished product to ren faire vendors.

I never thought I could make chainmaille a viable business.  I quit 3 times in my life and always returned.  Only now in my 40’s have i started to be able to make a good living off of chainmaille.  It’s been a really rough journey, but I’m glad that I persisted.

Obviously I can only speak for myself–but I’m sure many others will agree–I’m so glad you persisted, too! Your contributions to this craft are immeasurable. I’d love to know what inspires you.

Detail and quality interest me. I love drawing photorealistic drawings because of the detail oriented work. I love architecture too for the same reason. I’m really into quantum mechanics. There is this phenomenon where if you join enough small things together, new properties begin to emerge. For example, the property of one ring has certain properties, but If you start joining rings together, the new structure of connected rings begins to have new properties. The end result is so much more than just “x” number of rings. Weave properties like flexibility, strength, cross section, symmetry, and more begin to emerge. It’s fascinating to me. A chainmaille ring is like an atom. Atoms join together to make molecules. Molecules join to make physical substances in nature. The range of physical properties in our universe is incredible and yet everything is made up of only 92 different elements. That’s how chainmaille is. It all begins with a few different size torus shaped rings, and from those rings, tons of weaves and properties can result. Building a house, drawing a picture, writing a poem, weaving chainmaille, or anything creative in life is fun, for me, because of this phenomenon.

Oh man, I’m such a science nerd, I absolutely LOVE everything you just said. 😄

You’re quite prolific with discovering patterns. How do you come up with so many?

Coming up with new weaves and variants is what I love. I wish I could do more of that. How do I come up with them? It’s hard to explain. There are many ways that it seems to happen. One way it happens is when I need to make a project for a customer who wants specific attributes. The need sometimes becomes the driving force behind the creation. Another way is just to try established weaves and say “what if?”  What if I put this ring here instead? I swear every time I try an established weave, I end up making 3 variants that are new. Then those 3 variants end up having 3 variants too.  It just goes on and on. This is why I’m convinced that there are infinite possible weaves. I have thousands of ideas for weaves and I only ever get to try a few of them because of time constraints.  Many times, If I go 2 or more steps beyond the original weave, I will create a new weave that is not just a variant.  Out of 100 weaves that I create, only 10 of them are viable variants. Of those 10, only 1 will become an awesome new original weave. I have a box of “mistakes.” My mistakes box is 10 times larger than my weave library.

Ha! I completely understand! *looks over at own mistakes box* 😉

It’s also possible to make new weaves mathematically using a network of connection possibilities.  That is how my R.I.M. (Ring Interaction Model) was born.  It shows all the possible connections for each numbered ring system.  For example, how many possible different structures can 3 rings make?  The answer is 3.  There is Mobius (left and right handed), Straight 2 in 1 Chain, and Orbit.  With 4 rings, the possible number of structures jumps to 19.  Just by working out the possible ring interactions with 4 rings, I came up with 3 new weaves.  Imagine what would come of working out the 5th level.  I haven’t tried yet, but I’m thinking the 5th level would produce about 200 possible structures.

Josh-Diliberto-RINGINTERACTIONMODELPIC1Wow, that’s so cool. I love this rather cerebral approach to discovering new patterns.

What’s your “normal” workday like? Do you have strategies for making sure nothing gets dropped?

I think everyone has strengths. I’m absolutely addicted to creating. I only really care about money as far as it enables me to create more. I think one of my strengths lies in efficient system creation. I really enjoy organizing and finding ways to do things efficiently. I have work stations set up in my office and my garage. Each work station has specific designs to help aide ergonomics, creativity, quality, safety, motivation, and more. I move from station to station through out each day so I don’t get burned out on any one thing. I’m a huge planner. Every night before I sleep I plan out the next day in my head. I keep the expectations of that day small. So, when I complete all the tasks of that day, I always have extra time for me and my family.  Since I work at home, it’s really difficult to have work-life balance and separation. I have to communicate often with my family to let them know when I’m working so they don’t interrupt me constantly.

If I feel sad, unmotivated, sick, or hurt, I don’t work. Instead, I dive into those feelings to deal and cope with them. I found over and over again that when I try to push through work and ignore these feelings, the consequences of that are much more severe than if I had just taken a break. This positive atmosphere that I created in my work environment has really allowed me to increase my work load. I really don’t like to call what I do “work.” “Work” is such a loaded word with so many feelings behind it. I think of “work” similar to obligation or duty – something that is not really enjoyed or something we have to do for money. If I pressured myself everyday to make money, I would only be able to work for a couple of hours because my mind would be so full of negative voice. It’s that negative voice that drags people down and keeps them from loving what they do. But, the hard part is finding work that you can be positive about. I think it’s really hard to find a positive dynamic in a job when a person works for a company or boss. The natural hierarchy or order keeps the employee from rarely being able to find equality which is a basic requirement before a positive mindset can be attained.

I wake up at 3am most mornings full of energy.  I have no alarm clock.  Sometimes I work 10-hour days and other times I work 1-hour days.  It all depends on where I am that day and what I’m dealing with.  It’s nice to be able to stay home with my daughter when she is sick or go on a trip with my wife when she has a day off work. I also want to be clear that I am very fortunate to have support from my wife. The small success that I have is not just because of me and what I do.

What is your current goal?

My current goal is to become financially independent so I can focus all my energy on making new weaves and creating an online database of weaves that is higher quality and more comprehensive than the M.A.I.L. weave library.  So far, I have 300 weaves documented.  M.A.I.L. has over 1400 currently.  I discovered about 110 weaves so far.  I always try to say “discovered” instead of “created” because I get a greater sense of uncovering something that has always been there when I make a new weave.  It’s not so much me doing anything to create a new weave.  It’s much like a scientist discovers a new law of nature, a  new constant, or physical property of the universe..

That’s a really cool analogy!

What’s your favorite piece (or pieces) of jewelry (or an accessory) that you’ve created?

I think my favorite piece that I made was a functioning welded titanium bull whip.  It took me about 6 weeks to make and I earned a really nice commission from it.  I loved the challenge.  It was very difficult to design because a bull whip has to get slightly more flexible as it gets smaller down to the fall.  I had to use a different weave at each section and then joining them all together in a way that worked was very difficult.  It’s 6′ long and I used about 4000 rings in it!

Other than the bullwhip, what is something (either another piece, or a weave/technique, or an accomplishment, etc) that you are really proud to have done?

I think Elf Bridge Chain is my greatest intellectual accomplishment in the chainmaille industry.  It’s by far the best weave I’ve discovered and I love sharing it with the world.  It’s essentially the 6 in 1 version of Elf Weave.  It eluded so many people for so long because it’s counter intuitive.  The edge rings are 5 in 1 and the middle rings are 6 in 1.  It also works best with 2 ring sizes.  I don’t think anyone was expecting it to have those properties.  Consequently, I went on to apply my knowledge of Elf Bridge Chain to discover Elf Viaduct Chain which is the 8 in 1 version of Elf Weave.

Josh-Diliberto elf bridge chainBesides Elf Bridge Chain, I’m really proud of my JPL7 Alternate discovery.  I found a way to make JPL7 with smaller AR rings.  The weave is more efficient and stronger with a smaller cross section.  It’s my stance that my JPL7 alternate is the true JPL7, but I was unable to convince others in our community.

What’s your favorite tool?

There are so many tools I can’t live without.  A very import one is my modified Ringinator from Martin.  It’s just so important to be able to cut any size ring I need.  To discover new weaves, I have to have every possible ring size.

LOL, yeeessss!!! All the sizes!

So, this is not maille-related at all, but I’m curious to know why your website is all in caps. Is it an architecture thing? I know multiple architects/design folk who hand write in all caps and am  wondering if there’s a correlation?

Yes, once upon a time I wanted to get into architecture, but I didn’t like all the building codes. I took many classes in high school and I was taught to write in all caps. I’m also well known for writing in all lower case too. I used to tell my English teachers that all the letters are equal and none of them is more important than another. It’s a sound philosophy, but it still didn’t go over very well, especially in college. (I dropped out of college after my second year.)

Ha! Challenging institutional tenets often doesn’t go over very well, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. 😉

Here’s a very specific, burning question from a fan: “Is it possible to make your karma weave with double capture rings instead of just one? But still keep it flexible and small?”

It’s possible that Karma could be made with 2 capture rings in each section. I’ve not tried, but the result would be larger if it was possible.

OK, onto some quick questions:

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

I listen to audio books while doing chainmaille and sometimes I’ll watch a show.

What are your favorite artists (chainmaille or otherwise)?

I admire any artist that works in detail. Chuck Close and Alex Grey come to mind. I would like to connect with Michael DeVeny again. I’ve been unable to get a hold of him. He’s very much off the grid.

What would your superpower be and why?

I would love to mind control people like professor X. But how would I be able to do that in a moral way?

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

Experience everything. Be diverse. Better to be slightly good at everything than to be great at one thing. The worst piece of advice: Quit.

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

I’m really into Buddhism.

Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your work!

profile on M.A.I.L. – mithrilweaver 

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Josh! I really enjoyed learning about your approach to maille and life in general. I wish you continued success with your business!

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: and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed and any questions you have for them. ‘Til next time, happy crafting!

He’s Made A Living Making & Selling Chainmaille for More Than Forty Years

Meet Chainmaille Artisan Lord Randolph of ChainMaille Fashions

Lord-RandolphScrolling through the ChainMaille Fashions page on Facebook, and the ChainMaille Fashions website, it is amazing to see the sheer amount and variety of pieces Lord Randolph and his team have created over the years. You’ll find an incredible archive of hundreds upon hundreds–thousands, really–of photos of chainmaille clothing and accessories, each a little different and always sized to fit the client just right. One constant: so many happy faces of people clearly loving what they are wearing. As one fan wrote on Facebook,”Randolph, you & your team have the ability to make ordinary people feel & become extraordinary!”

Every month in our Meet the Artist series, we chat with a different chainmaille artist to find out more about their process, history, 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 Lord Randolph Markham. Together with Jane Markham, Jo Woolam, and their team, they are ChainMaille Fashions. They’ve vended at multiple Renaissance Fairs across the US for the past four decades, so you may have even seen their work in person.

Enjoy getting to know Lord Randolph below!


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

In 1975, I was unemployed scratching out a living making candles and I did a show that was a fundraiser for KPFK community-sponsored radio. The Society For Creative Anachronism (SCA) were doing demonstrations and one of them let me wear a shirt of maille. I was hooked. I ordered one from him and paid $100 deposit. A year later when he still had not started it and did not have money to return my deposit, I took his pliers and his small supply of rings and started one myself. It was the last piece I ever made in rust-able metal.

The photo below is not that first shirt, but one of the earliest pieces you made, back in 1978. I love that you’ve got such a great photo archive of your work!


I know your wife also makes maille … did you two meet at the Renaissance Fair? Has maille always been a part of your lives together?

We met before chainmaille. I had taken a position as navigator and crew on am brand new motor/sail boat from Vancouver to Jamaica by way of the Panama Canal and we stopped in Ft Lauderdale to refinish the teak before we delivered it. I met Jane there.

How did you get started vending at the Renaissance Faire?

Jane had been cutting coins for a wholesaler when we met but I knew the craft circuit from candle making. The KPFK show we did was the first thing we did together and Pegasus Coin and Candle. We had applied to the Southern Fair but were rejected until we applied as ChainMaille. We started at the Texas fair in year 4 and added Minnesota Renaissance Fair and Southern Fair the next year.


What’s the hardest aspect about being an artist at the Renaissance Faire? What’s the best?

Hardest: dealing with management (they are all kind of dysfunctional).

Dealing with patrons can be the best especially for me. Dressing people bonds us quickly.


Haha, I’ll bet! How many states have you traveled to with your wares?

California, Arizona, Tennessee, Maine, New York, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois.


What’s your best/favorite chainmaille-related memory?

Too many and I don’t talk about anything that happens in the dressing room … but here’s one that sticks out and is sharable. Twenty-five years ago at Bristol, I had a group of 5 coeds who came together regularly to dress. A few years later they all graduated the same time and then married about the same time so you can guess what else they all did about the same time. They were all dressed in chainmaille so we agreed to let them come use the AC in the dressing room when it was time to nurse. They always chatted together like I was not in the room and I know way more about nursing than any man should!

How did the “Lord” part of Lord Randolph come to be?

My SCA persona Lord Randolph the Devious.


Lord Randolph 1980 and 2014

You’ve been making chainmaille a long time. Could you offer your thoughts on how the industry has evolved over the years?

There was no industry when I started. Only Whiting & Davis making stuff for butchers and lumberjacks. So everything has changed.


What inspires you?

My clients. Most of my ideas are developed because they were asked for and I have always thought if one person wants it and if they are 1 in a million, then there are 8,000 others that would want it also.


What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created?

The stuff I like the most is not sharable, not advertised or pushed in any way but I get asked for strange stuff all the time.

Well, this piece isn’t strange, but I for one love this … Baby’s First Chainmaille! 😄


How many hours a day do you weave?

Now or in the beginning? Early on, Jane and I would work a few hours in the morning watching the morning shows. The middle of the day was for working on books or booths then 4 or 5 hours in the evening watch TV and knitting.


What is your current goal?

Semi-retirement! I have sold Minnesota Renaissance Faire and am trying to sell Bristol. At 70 years old, I have no mortgage and enough solar, so don’t have an electric bill, which means I can do quite nicely with just 2 shows. For the Texas Faire, I have a HUGE fan base who I tap to do repairs and cleanup of my building two weeks before opening, they also unload and distribute my inventory. Arizona is not a big show but February and March are nice there; the booth is low maintenance and the show is an easy 10 am to 6 pm. Sustainable for an old man.

Hmm, I think I’m gonna have to head out and visit the Arizona show to see your wares in person! I saw your shoppe at Bristol, but it’s been years.


What is one tool that you cannot live without?

There are several, my pliers, my truck and my partners top the list.

Lord Randolph, Jane Markham and Jo Woolam of Chainmaille Fashions.

Lord Randolph, Jane Markham and Jo Woolam of Chainmaille Fashions.

What general advice would you give to someone who wants to make a living in the Ren Faire scene?

Start with local craft shows and listen to the feedback. To start you need a niche. When you have been doing it as long as I have … well, I very rarely make anything new because I can’t even replace what I sell right now! Part of why I need to sell Bristol.



woman-in-mailleOK, onto some quick questions: What do you do when you aren’t making chainmaille?

Garden and play Everquest but we are “in production” year round.

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

Music when working on something that requires focus and audio books for mindless repetition

What would your superpower be and why?

I can talk strangers out of their blouses in a minute or two 😉.

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

Never be the first to release a hug.

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

I think I will leave them surprised.

Also, I think it’s worth noting that you probably have some of the earliest photos of cats in chainmaille and dogs in maille on the entire internet:


Before we let you go, please tell us where we can find your chainmaille.

Chainmaille Fashions website:
Faires: Bristol Faire (Wisconsin), Texas Renaissance Festival and Arizona Renaissance Festival


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Lord Randolph! We wish you much continued success and are so thankful for your decades of inspiring people to embrace chainmaille.

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: and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed. ‘Til next time, happy crafting!

48 Beautiful Ombre Ideas For Colorful Jewelry Making

Be Inspired By These 3-Tone Color Fades Of Chainmaille Jump Rings

As most of you know, I love creating ombres with the chainmaille pieces in my Rebeca Mojica Jewelry line.

I finally created a sample sheet of many ombre possibilities to inspire me and help customers decide on colors for their personalized pieces. I printed the chart to leave it near my workstation, because I love looking at color and contemplating the possibilities!  I thought it might be inspirational for other artisans, too, so here ya go:


Here’s the “water” ombre in action in my Tapered Mobius Necklace:

chainmail necklace in purple blue and turquoise on display form

In chainmaille, the ombres work particularly well with mobiused pieces, because you can transition the color very gradually by changing the color makeup of each adjacent mobius unit. (If you’d like to know how to make the necklace, you can purchase the Tapered Mobius tutorial in the Blue Buddha Etsy Shop.)

Here are a few other examples of some of my most popular ombre pieces of jewelry:

flame colored scalemaille necklacePurchase Elemental Leaves necklace tutorial.


5-flower-ROCKFree downloadable tutorial for Flowers Bracelet (which is easily adapted into the earring pattern shown here).


Free downloadable tutorial for Shaggy Scales. (Both of the previous 2 earrings shown are Shaggy Scales, just with the scales in different orientations.)

chainmaille necklace with scale in turquoise, green and brownPurchase tutorial for Knotted Triangle Necklace With Scale.


Follow Rebeca Mojica Jewelry on Facebook or @rebecamojicajewelry on Instagram to see other colorful (and non-colorful) chainmaille jewelry pieces.




Chainmaille Artisan Lisa Ellis Will Mesmerize You With Her Intricate and Colorful Jewelry Designs

Meet The Founder Of The Armorer’s Wife & Creator Of Many 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!

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: and let me know if there’s anyone you want to see interviewed. ‘Til next time, happy weaving!

Artist Tony Moeller Creates Amazing Portraits And Landscapes From Tiny Metal Rings

Meet The Chainmaille 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!

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:
Facebook page:
Patreon Page:
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: