Entry in the NM State Fair Jewelry / Chain Maille Competition
In 2014, my girlfriend at the time and I visited the Creative Arts pavilion at the NM State Fair and checked out the bead work and jewelry competition. She is an amazing artist with bead weaving, as good as or better than anything we saw at the competition. I encouraged her to enter in the following year (this year, now).
And then I saw the chainmaille competition pieces. The blue ribbon winner was a pretty and sweet bracelet in the helm maille weave. It’s a nice design, but it’s definitely a beginner’s chain maille weave. I thought I would like to enter the competition, too.
I almost decided to not enter the State Fair jewelry competition this year. I live 3.5 hours away from the State Fair grounds, meaning a 7-hour drive round trip to drop of the bracelet. Then, another 7-hour drive to visit the fair and see the results (plus $10 parking fees, plus $10 fair entrance cost, plus fighting traffic for an hour just to get to the parking spot). Then another 7-hour drive to go back and pick up the bracelet after the fair ended. Driving, alone, would take more time than actually making the bracelet!
But I really wanted to enter! I decided to enter the competition for two reasons:
- I wanted to see what the judges would think of my bracelet. I wanted an outside, professional opinion.
- I wanted to show people that chain maille isn’t about wearing armor and running around the park and waving swords on a Saturday afternoon. Chain maille jewelry can be very beautiful.
Here’s the piece that I entered, a sterling silver Viperscale chain maille bracelet:
This bracelet is in the Viperscale chain maille weave. It is all sterling silver, using 18 gauge, 6 mm rings.
Viperscale is a hybrid of the Half Persian and the Dragonscale weaves. It requires weaving rings from the top and bottom, in a fairly complicated pattern, making it an advanced chain maille weave.
As with all my sterling silver bracelets, I make my own rings, the cut edges are slightly filed to prevent scratching, the rings are perfectly closed, and the bracelet is polished in my jewelry tumbler.
So, how did I do in the 2015 NM State Fair chainmaille competition? As you can see, I won the blue ribbon for first place!
Here’s what the display looked like in the Creative Arts Pavilion:
This display case and the ones behind it and to the left contain the jewelry and beadwork entries. There’s mine, right up front (in the yellow circle).
And next year?
Given that I got the first place blue ribbon this year, I will likely enter again next year. I already know what weave I will use for the jewelry, but I’m not telling. You’ll just have to wait and see!