A professional Larry Malone is a daytime chemist and appreciates metals like silver and copper at the molecular level. But he is also a self-taught jeweler who transforms these metals into chain mail bracelets and chains that drape like second skins. “It’s just a form of weaving with metal,” he says. “But it has a decent effect. It has something to do with the feeling, when done right. “
Malone’s talent grew out of tragedy. His daughter-in-law died early and she left a kit of pearls. He thought it was a shame to get rid of it so he started tinkering with it and found a hobby.
What started with pearls gradually turned into metalwork. “It was more fun because I got to play with a torch,” he says. Now the Mishawaka jeweler is selling his pieces online with the help of his wife. Prices range from $ 15 to $ 130.
To make chain mail, Malone first chooses a pattern and style. “Will it be flat chain mail?” he says. “Byzantine? Dragon scale? Or there is one called the Viper Scale that is really cool. “
To form each tiny, overlapping ring, he wraps wire around a rod called a mandrel. Next, he heats the wire with a torch. It has to be scorching hot but not melted, which is a delicate balance. The metal becomes stronger as it cools. It takes at least a few hundred rings to make a bracelet and several weeks to join them together. Malone manipulates the rings with curved needle-nose pliers. Finally, he adds a cap and places the piece – along with stainless steel pellets, soap, and water – in a beaker overnight to polish it. It comes out silky and is ready to wear with a little polishing. But by then, Malone is already working on something new.
“As long as I have eyes and hands to keep going, I will,” he says. “For me, pleasure only does this stuff. If someone else is wearing it and enjoying it, that’s even better. “