Who I am
I’m Spider, the founder of Spiderchain Jewelry. I’m the designer, webmistress, accountant, shipping department, and janitor. I coil, cut, count, weave, choose, email, anodize, troubleshoot, and teach. I’m a fanatic when it comes to chainmail. If you see me at a party, I’ll be the one in the comfy chair with the chainmail kit, pliers in hand.
I also have one of those fiddly little nitpick perfectionist brains. That’s why I have so many ring sizes. Different weaves need different ring diameters and thicknesses, and when I’m designing a new piece I don’t want to compromise my vision because the perfect size isn’t available. And I don’t want my customers to have to compromise either.
How I learned to make chainmail
I’ve always made things with my hands. I stitched my first quilt when I was 8 years old and went from there. My mother is a seamstress who worked the Renaissance Faire while I was growing up and I saw lots of chainmail there – I was interested, but never thought I’d be able to make it myself. Over the years I thought about learning, but it wasn’t until 1997 that I saw Chainmail as Jewelry in the course catalog for our local art center. Half an hour into my first class I knew that I was hooked. Half an hour into my second class I’d absorbed everything the teacher knew, and that night I started scouring the Internet for anything I could find. My closet is now full of abandoned quilts, stained glass, and knitting projects that I haven’t touched since that fateful day.
The many phases of Spiderchain
I was working as an engineer and computer geek when I first learned to make chainmail. Naturally, I had a personal website, just for fun. I added chainmail to a corner of that site. And that corner grew, and grew, and… In 1999 I decided that it needed a site of its own – Spiderchain.com was born. At first, the content consisted of stainless steel jewelry, but as my designs grew more ambitious I ventured into sterling silver and it was love at first pliers!
Eventually my portfolio of precious-metal jewelry grew large enough that it needed a site of its own, and in 2001 I launched Silverweaver.com. At that time it was especially hard to find saw-cut precious metal rings in anything but dead soft wire, and as my own needs for rings grew I started winding my own. Other chainmaillers clearly had the same need, and over the past decade the sale of loose rings has gradually pushed the old stainless steel designs into retirement. Spiderchain.com is now entirely focused on loose rings in a variety of materials, sizes and gauges, while Silverweaver.com remains dedicated to my own designs and hand-crafted chainmail jewelry.
And now Spiderchain has grown so much that I can’t do it all myself any more.
* Elizabeth has been working at Spiderchain since September 2007. She has been a huge help to me. She keeps the inventory topped up (orders now ship much faster). She pays attention and can meet my obsessive quality standards (she doesn’t even think I’m crazy). And best of all, the anodizer really likes her and cooperates with her color requests!
* Marie comes a couple times a month to do my books. No more fighting with piles of papers. What bliss!
What’s next? I’m still growing the list of Spiderchain products. More ring sizes, more materials, more tools. And with my new helpers freeing up so much of my time – more jewelry! I guess that one word sums it up. More.